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What to Wear to a Beach Wedding: From Super Casual to Formal

Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Orange County / Betsnewman So, you've received an invitation to a beach wedding, and now you're wondering what to wear. When it comes to beach weddings, it's not always as casual as...

Bride and bridesmaids on beach Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Orange County / Betsnewman

So, you've received an invitation to a beach wedding, and now you're wondering what to wear. When it comes to beach weddings, it's not always as casual as you might think. While some couples opt for a laidback, barefoot-in-the-sand affair, others plan semi-formal or even formal events on the coast.

If you're attending a summer wedding on the beach this year, here's a guide to what to wear for every dress code, from super casual to super formal!

Choose Your Outfit Based on the Dress Code

Bride and bridesmaids Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Los Angeles / BE Studios

When it comes to choosing what to wear to a beach wedding, the most important rule is to follow the dress code specified on the invitation. While there are many dress codes, the invitation will likely fall into one of three main categories:

  1. Formal Beach Wedding: This type of wedding is held in an indoor/outdoor venue that has a beachy vibe while still maintaining an elegant and chic atmosphere.

  2. Semi-Formal Beach Wedding: A semi-formal event could include an outdoor ceremony with an air-conditioned reception indoors.

  3. Casual Beach Wedding: A casual beach wedding might take place entirely on the sand, providing a laidback atmosphere with a tiki bar and Adirondack chairs for lounging.

Dress to match the level of formality indicated by the venue. Simply follow the dress code on the invitation, and you can't go wrong! If you're still unsure of what to wear, you can always refer to our complete guide to wedding attire: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Codes.

Formal Beach Wedding Attire

If the invitation calls for a formal dress code, you have a couple of options. When it comes to "formal," it doesn't necessarily mean you need to wear a beaded evening gown or a tuxedo. The aim is to look and feel special for this occasion.

For women, opt for a sophisticated and polished look. Don't be afraid to experiment with lighter colors such as sand, light blue, or light gray. This is a great opportunity to wear a dress or outfit that suits the beach setting.

Men can also embrace lighter-colored suits. Think outside of the traditional black, navy, and dark gray, and consider sandy tones, light blue, or light gray. For more information on formal wedding attire, check out our post on The Levels of Formal Wedding Attire.

Semi-Formal Beach Wedding Attire

At a semi-formal event, you don't need to go all out with a full-length gown or a suit and tie. A knee-length, tea-length, or midi dress is a perfect choice for women. Men can opt for a button-down shirt with dress pants, with or without a tie, to meet the formality of the dress code. Adding a sport coat or blazer can enhance the look, but it's not necessary, especially if it's a hot day in a tropical climate.

Semi-formal attire allows for some flexibility, so don't be afraid to add playful touches with tropical accents and beach-inspired accessories.

Casual Beach Wedding Attire

Unless the couple specifically requests casual attire, avoid showing up in a swimsuit, shorts, flip-flops, or a casual short-sleeved shirt. Casual doesn't mean sloppy, so opt for a printed sundress, a breezy chiffon maxi dress, or a comfortable romper or jumpsuit instead.

For men, a collared shirt is a must, even for casual events. A button-down shirt without a tie or a short sleeve polo shirt are perfect choices. Pair it with a nice pair of chinos, and you're set. Remember, the goal is to look like you're going somewhere special, not like you're heading to the beach for a day of lounging.

More Tips for Choosing the Perfect Beach Wedding Outfit

Bride and bridesmaids Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Sacramento / Bohemia Photography

Here are a few additional tips to help you pick out the perfect outfit for a beach wedding:

Pay Attention to Colors and Fabrics

Choose colors and fabrics that are suitable for the weather, season, and location. Lightweight fabrics like seersucker, linen, and chiffon are perfect for warm weather. Chiffon dresses offer movement and breathability. For men, consider linen suits or shirts paired with lightweight pants for maximum comfort in the heat. Don't be afraid to embrace fun warm-weather colors and patterns, such as pastels, bright colors, or tropical floral prints.

Choose the Right Footwear

Leave the stilettos at home! Instead of skinny heels, opt for flat, dressy sandals, wedges, or chunky heels that provide more stability on the sand. For men, dress shoes are suitable for formal events, while loafers or boat shoes are stylish alternatives for semi-formal or casual occasions.

Research the Venue in Advance

Before you start shopping for a beach wedding outfit, do a little research on the venue. Check out photos online to get a feel for the formality of the location. The couple's wedding website may also provide additional details about the ceremony and reception space. The more you know about where you're going, the easier it will be to find the perfect outfit for the occasion.

In conclusion, beach weddings can vary from super casual to ultra-formal, so always heed the dress code specified on the invitation. Whether the celebration takes place on the sand or indoors with a beach view, you can be sure that you're in for a lovely day with a beautiful backdrop to enjoy!