What To Wear To a Beach Wedding: A Complete Guide

Beach weddings are exciting, romantic, and more popular than ever. But if you’ve never been to one, you may be scratching your head, wondering what to wear. The first thing to know is that not all beach weddings are alike.  By studying the style of the wedding invitation, as well as where the reception is going to be held, you can start to get some clues for how to dress.

Dressing For a Beach Wedding: 3 Types

Casual Beach Wedding

A casual beach wedding is the most relaxed, low-key type of beach wedding. It takes place during the day on the sand, and the reception is held outside on a patio or at a local restaurant.

Pretty sundresses and beachy maxi dresses are the most popular things to wear, but if you prefer pants, you can wear linen pants with a colorful top. A cute jumpsuit is also appropriate casual beach wedding guest attire for women.

Men should wear khakis or linen pants and a short-sleeve shirt.

Semi-Formal Beach Wedding

A semi-formal beach wedding is more upscale and elegant. It takes place in the late afternoon/evening in a beautifully decorated area on the beach. The ceremony is followed by cocktails on a patio, and the reception is often inside a hotel. A semi-formal beach wedding calls for colorful, beachy cocktail wear, dressy summer tea dresses (midi length), and maxis. Think resort chic.

Men should wear khakis or linen pants and a light sports jacket with no tie.

Formal Beach Wedding

Formal beach weddings are few and far between. They take place in the evening and are glamorous and sophisticated. For a formal beach wedding, you should wear a long gown. Men need to wear a suit.

Whatever type of beach wedding you’re invited to, they all have one thing in common – a relaxed, beachy summer vibe.

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding – 10 Tips


1. Choose Cool, Lightweight Fabrics

Naturally, the weather plays a big part in what to wear to a beach wedding. Even though you’re by the water, it’s likely going to be very hot. Lightweight materials that breathe and don’t stick to your skin are ideal. For example, cotton, linen, and plant-based fabrics are perfect for a casual beach wedding because they will keep you fresh.

For a dressier oceanside ceremony, floaty chiffon, organza, silk, and polyester blends are breezy and beautiful.


Wedding Guest - Destination Orange Floral Midi


2.  Don’t Be Afraid of Bright Colors

Wedding Guest Beach Wedding - White FLoral SLeeveless

Bright colors are fun and upbeat for a beach wedding, and they don’t absorb the heat, so they’re much cooler to wear than dark colors like black, navy, brown, gray, and olive.

Seaside hues like blue, green, turquoise, pink, sand, and coral mirror the surroundings and fit the vibe of a beach wedding. Tropical island brights like parrot green, banana yellow, fiery red, and sunset orange also look fabulous in exotic settings.


Prints welcome

As for prints – have fun! Water/ocean-inspired prints and lush florals look especially good. If the bride has a color palette she would like guests to adhere to, consider her color palette, and look for shades that flatter your skin tone. Some brides want all their guests to wear white, which can be fun to shop for.

Sundress with details

keyhole neckline, eyelet

Beach wedding guest dress-Lavender


A simple, unfussy sundress is often very appropriate for a casual beach wedding, but make sure it is not too bare, and it has something special about it, like this purple eyelet one. You don’t want anything that looks more like a beach coverup.


3. Flowy Dresses are Breezy and Beautiful


Since you are in a breezy tropical environment, it makes sense to wear something more natural and flowy. Look for dresses with movement. For example, wrap dresses, dresses with tiers, and ruffles are pretty too.

Not too short high low gives you an effect


5. Maxi Dresses are Perfect For Beach Weddings



A short dress can blow in the wind. Long, flowing maxi dresses are perfect for seaside weddings, and these days there are so many to choose from.

Spaghetti straps, strapless, one-shoulder, or off-the-shoulder are super romantic.

A halter-style maxi is beachy and a little sexy too! Off shoulder, boho styles fit the carefree feel of the beach. Another option – is the high-low maxi. It’s longer in the back than the front to show off your beautiful tanned legs!

If you have always wanted a reason to wear a long, beautiful summer maxi, this is it.



6. Have Fun with Accessories

Wedding Guest Dresses - Destination Wedding - Pink Spaghetti strap

A beach wedding is about adventure, so bring out the buried treasure! Big colorful beads, shells, gold trinkets, raffia, wood, turquoise, and coral jewelry; all goes so well with the seaside theme.


7.  Jumpsuits are Popular

If you are not a dress gal and prefer pants, think about a jumpsuit. Long or cropped, a flowy jumpsuit makes a modern beach wedding guest outfit.

8.  Low Sandals Make the Most Sense

Dresses to Wear to a Beach wedding as a guest - coral tunic dress

Closed toes shoes are too heavy and serious for a beach wedding. Instead, choose dressy sandals. (Make sure you have a good pedicure!)If the happy couple plans to take their vows right on the beach, don’t wear sandals with a high heels because they’ll just sink into the sand.

If the invitation says bare feet are o.k., but you prefer to wear shoes, go for flat, glamorous sandals with a sexy touch of bling. Here are some examples below.

Some beach ceremonies take place on the grass on a hotel patio, and if that is the case, then you can also wear wedges or even block heels because they are more comfortable to balance on than a high heel, and they won’t get stuck in any cracks.

One type of footwear you should avoid is flip-flops, or worse, Birkenstocks! They’re just too casual, even for a laid-back beach wedding.


9. Don’t Forget a Wrap

Have you ever noticed that it can get quite breezy at the beach? Don’t let the wind spoil the day for you.

A light wrap comes in very handy and will protect your arms from the sun if the ceremony takes longer than you thought. It also comes ideal in the evening when things cool down.


10. A Hat is a Good Idea

If you are concerned about getting too much sun or you just want something a touch dramatic in such a romantic setting, then a big sunhat is acceptable. But make sure it is secured well just in case it tries to blow away in the middle of the ceremony. And don’t forget the sunglasses – a necessity to be sure!


11. Keep Hair and Makeup Soft

Beach weddings = Natural, so be sure that your make-up and make-up don’t look too done. Keep it soft and loose in keeping with your outfit, and expect your hair to get blown around a bit.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!  More Beauty at the Beach tips here.


More Beach Wedding Guest Dresses Here

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15 thoughts on “What To Wear To a Beach Wedding: A Complete Guide

  1. Good morning Deborah, I am the bride’s grandmother, and I am 75 years young! I have no idea what to wear for a beach wedding! Can you help? Thanks

  2. Loved the Bohemian off-shoulder dress for a beach wedding. Where could I locate a dress like this?

  3. Hello, how are you doing? :-) I love that lovely floral dress you have pictured above. Thanks, heaps for your excellent articles! :-)

  4. What do I wear to an early afternoon, casual wedding at a resort in northwest Idaho in June? I am 55, 5’5″, 148 LBS. The weather is supposed to be 6o high and 30 low. I am from Virginia, and it’s hot and humid here.

  5. Help! What if you don’t wear sleeveless dresses? What about a shrug? I don’t know if that is too youthful for me, I don’t want to look too young, yet a stylish dress with a sleeve is so hard to find.

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Yes, a shrug is acceptable… or with a Pashmina. A 3/4 sleeve dress is good, or an off-the-shoulder dress; they can keep you cool while still covering!

  6. Unless you are a Demi Moore over 40, I suggest a more conservative option for a wedding. In these photos, the models are most likely late 20’s mid 30’s. There are some lovely dresses out there that are more “flow-ey,” and don’t forget your dress shrug. The indoors will be chilly, and one must have buffed arms or a shrug. Too, remember the leg make-up. The average woman over 40 should not wear above-the-knee dresses with bows. There are those exceptions with firm bodies, knees, and botox, of course…

  7. I love the new look of your site!! Very eye-catching. Congratulations on your selection. You did a great job.

  8. I am so glad that you covered this topic. Last year I had an August wedding and spent days trying to find something that felt right. I never did and wore a navy blue linen dress that did not feel festive. I have another wedding in late July, and I know what to look for with your perfect guidelines. I will send you a pix of my final choice. N now you can explain what business casual is for women our age?

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