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What to Wear to a Beach Wedding as a Guest

what to wear to a beach wedding as a guest

I don’t know about you but I went through a phase when it seemed like I had a wedding to attend every other weekend. While exhausting, this is such a special time in your life—there’s nothing better than celebrating your friends and family in an over-the-top way. Add in an open bar and a reason to get dressed up and I’m there.

Every wedding definitely has a unique feel. And this obviously depends a lot on the venue and time of year it’s being held. While each is special in its own right, getting a wedding invitation for a beach occasion might just take the cake. There’s something about a destination wedding that feels particularly romantic and picturesque. Plus, any chance I get to book a beach getaway is more than welcome.

After the initial excitement of attending a beach wedding wears off, you might be left with some stress about what to wear.

At first, it might seem easier to dress for a beach event as opposed to a more formal wedding, but there are so many factors you have to consider for this specific venue— the logistics of wearing heels that won’t sink into the sand, picking a dress that’s appropriate for warm weather, adhering to the dress code without spending a fortune….the list goes on.

The good news is that I’ve spent a (slightly) ridiculous amount of time putting together this beach wedding guest dress guide so that you don’t have to quit your full-time job. Here, you’ll find loads of inspiration on wear to a beach wedding as a guest, whether it’s a black tie occasion or flip flops are encouraged as your shoe of choice.

Beach Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

It seems like the dress code for a beach wedding can often be unclear. Should you go with something short? Are you expected to show up in a more formal gown?

If it’s not indicated on the save the date or invitation, I’d say your best bet is to wear a dress that’s made with light and breathable fabric. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable (aka hot and sweaty) while attending such a special event.

Colorful patterns, flowy silhouettes, and more vibrant prints are also generally OK for beach weddings. These looks all complement the relaxed ambiance of the beach, so it’s only practical and on-theme to dress the part.

colorful and flowy maxi dress to wear to a beach wedding

While we’ve established that beach wedding outfits are less formal and more laid back compared to traditional wedding guest attire, here are some specific pieces to consider when choosing your outfit.

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding as a Guest

An obvious go-to outfit for a beach wedding is a flowy maxi dress. There aren’t really many rules with this one, so go with whatever print or color you like best. I’d just suggest that you wear something with short sleeves so you don’t overheat.

I love that looser-fitting dresses offer a more casual vibe (which is ideal for a sandy venue). But if you’re looking for something more upscale, look for options with ruffles or a tiered silhouette.

ruffled flowy maxi dress outfit on the beach

It can be confusing when you see “beach casual” written on a wedding invite. But don’t worry, I got you covered. This essentially means that a simple sundress, cute two-piece set, a jumpsuit, or a maxi skirt would work. Think elevated cover-up dresses or pieces you’d wear to a nice dinner in Hawaii (specific, I know.)

Accessorize with a straw clutch and dainty gold jewelry to really play up the details.

two piece wedding outfit idea for a beach venue

Typically, wedding guest attire consists of semi-formal or cocktail dress looks. And that still might be the case with the beach wedding you’re attending. If so, opt for pieces that err on the more timeless side of things—midi dresses, strapless picks, and tea-length finds would all work.

Fabrics also play a big role in the overall feel of your look, so if you’re dressing for a fancier venue, pick higher quality materials, like satin or chiffon (as opposed to cotton or linen).

Whether you’re heading to a casual beach wedding or something more upscale, a spaghetti strap dress is a fool-proof choice to wear as a guest. The style is not only practical for warm and potentially humid weather. But it also feels so on-theme for an oceanside atmosphere.

Be sure to bring a shall or wrap along with you if the destination you’re going to tends to cool off at night—better safe than sorry!

colorful spaghetti strap dress for a beach wedding

There’s something about off-the-shoulder dresses that is universally flattering, and I am here for it. The fit offers a classy and sexy vibe that is fitting for an outdoor wedding.

Look for one that fits well in the shoulders (not too loose and not too tight). So you don’t have to be bothered with pulling your dress up while you’re on the dance floor.

Oh, and if you’re ordering online, consider buying a few options so you don’t run into a last-minute wardrobe crisis.

Another great option for a summer wedding of any kind: Strapless dresses. This style is not hard to find between the spring and the fall. So there should be plenty of cute options to choose from. Again, I’d suggest brining along a wrap or shall since it typically gets cold on the beach after the sun sets.

With strapless dresses, it’s really fun to play up your accessory game. Add a pair of dangly earrings or a statement necklace to complete your look.

If the big day you’re attending has more of a party vibe than traditional wedding feel, this is the perfect opportunity to wear something fun and colorful. Light blue, vibrant green, and sunny yellow hues all feel beach-appropriate and complement the bright summer season.

Short dresses are also great if you’re worried about the warm temperature or the humidity. Pair any of the picks below with acrylic or nude heels and you’ll be set to dance the night away.

I feel like wrap style dresses can sometimes feel like a bit of a snooze (they almost give off an old lady vibe.) However, there is something to be said about prioritizing comfort, and wrap dresses just so happen to be one of the most comfy picks on this list.

To avoid having your look fall short, pick a wrap dress that has a fun pattern, interesting color combos, or a unique texture (like ruffles or embellishments).

floral wrap style dress with a raffia purse and straw hat

Worried about your dress dragging on the sand? This is where midi length options come in handy. They’re great whether you’re looking for formal beach wedding attire or something more relaxed. Another perk is that midi dresses can be worn for so many occasions, so you’re sure to get good wear out of any of these picks.

If you don’t want to be too predictable with a Hawaiian print dress, opt for something floral instead. Flowery prints are a go-to for summer events of any kind, and these are another wardrobe staple that can be worn time and time again.

If you land on something with a busier pattern, keep things balanced by wearing dainty, minimalist jewelry and a simple clutch.

v-neck floral maxi dress with a gold clutch

Because I’m blessed in the chest, it can be a challenge to find a properly fitting v-neck dress. This can be frustrating because I loveeee the style and think it’s so chic to wear to a beach event. If you’re in the same boat, look for dresses that have more of a slight “v” design rather than a deep, plunging neckline.

Also, you can often find v-neck style dresses that have a halter fit (like the one I’m wearing below.) I’ve found these to be more supportive and to offer higher coverage.

Halter Dresses

Show off your shoulders and stay cool with a sleek and sophisticated halter dress—short, midi, or long. Halter style dresses have a particularly “beachy” and vacation-worthy feel to them. So I feel like this is actually one of the best outfit options.

Pair one with wedges, espadrilles, or flats so you are comfortable throughout the celebration.

I hope this post helped you figure out what to wear to a beach wedding as a guest. I know it can be overwhelming, but as you can see, there really are a lot of options.

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