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If you were invited to a beach wedding this year, consider yourself lucky. There's something about the salty air and the crashing ocean waves that feels a little extra special. As a wedding guest, though, you might feel a bit lost on what to wear. Logistically, heels don't really work in the sand, and a sweeping formal gown might feel out of place. But at the same time, you may feel too casual in a printed sundress.
The first step to figuring out what to wear as a guest is to understand the dress code. Beach weddings are typically casual, so in most cases, wearing a fun print, a bright color, and a shorter hemline will do. If the wedding is more formal, opt for a slightly longer dress or a jumpsuit, and look for solid, lighter colors.
While black might be a dress color staple for most weddings, try to avoid it for seaside nuptials. Instead, go for vibrant colors like pink, coral, turquoise, or purple. In terms of fabric, look for pieces that are breathable and light, especially if it's a hot summer day. Linen and cotton are great options, and you'll want to avoid fabrics like satin and velvet, which will look and feel too heavy.
To help start your search, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite looks for beach wedding guests. Take a look below!
Best Lace: Astr The Label Joyce Corset Back Lace Midi Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Tea-length | Material: Polyester, rayon
Sweet and feminine, we absolutely love the blush color and lace design on this midi dress from Astr The Label. The sexier details, like the corset top and the criss-cross back, will also help you stand out in a sea of wedding guests.
Best Off-the-Shoulder: Amazing Moment Mint Green Floral Print Off-the-Shoulder Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester, rayon
This flowy maxi dress is versatile enough to be dressed up for a wedding, then worn more casually on a regular summer day. The mint green hue is also perfect for most seaside "I do's."
Best for a Destination Wedding: Farm Rio Halter Maxi Dress
Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: Tea-length | Material: Viscose
If you're headed to a destination wedding, this unique maxi is perfect. Vibrant colors, an interesting pattern, and a halter neckline makes this Farm Rio gown equal parts trendy and tropical.
Best Bodycon: Dress The Population Martine Stretch Crepe One-Shoulder Dress
Size Range: XXS-XXL | Length: Knee-length | Material: Polyester, spandex
The electric blue color of this dress could not be more fitting for a seaside ceremony. We love the tight crepe fit and the flattering ruching in the front.
Best for a Formal Beach Wedding: Moments Of Bliss Forest Green Backless Mermaid Maxi Dress
Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester, spandex
Beach weddings tend to be more casual by nature, but that doesn't mean they can't be formal. For an event that calls for a more dressed up look, opt for this maxi. The color is beautiful, the mermaid-style skirt is glamorous, and the open back is a nice touch.
Best Pleated Dress: ASOS Design Tall Pleated Textured Midi Dress
Size Range: 0-16 | Length: Tea-length | Material: Polyester, chiffon
This rose-colored pleated midi dress is both romantic and dreamy, and would look great on and off the dance floor. The Jacquard spot pattern also makes it a fun and flirty look.
Best Jumpsuit: Lulu's Thinking Out Loud Hunter Green Backless Jumpsuit
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester, spandex
Mix comfort and style with a sleek jumpsuit in a deep green hue. A plunging neckline, a criss-cross back, and a streamlined fit provide a formal flair to this solid-colored jumpsuit.
Best Floral Pattern: BHLDN Jules Beaded Maxi Dress
Size Range: 0-16 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Nylon mesh, crepe
The empire waist and flowing skirt of this maxi dress give off a bohemian feel that seems right for the beach. The floral beading is a beautiful detail, and while it comes in a few different colors, the berry is a gorgeous choice.
Best Maxi: Birdy Grey Gene Dress Curve
Size Range: XS-3X | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester, spandex
Simple and sophisticated, this maxi dress comes in a color appropriately called "sea glass." Between the criss-cross back, the halter neckline, and the slit, it would be a great choice for formal and semi-formal dress codes.
Most Daring: Party for Two Hot Pink Asymmetrical Bodycon Mini Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Mini | Material: Polyester, spandex
If you're looking to make a bold statement, opt for this daring mini dress from Lulus. The hot pink shade will definitely get you noticed, and will look great against a sunset backdrop.
Best for a Casual Beach Wedding: Lulu's Joyful Red Orange Multi Stripe Tie-Back Mini Dress
Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: Mini | Material: Polyester
The back of this dress is the real star of the show, and the multicolor straps give this look a nautical feel. We love this dress for a casual wedding or any laid-back affair.
Most Chic: Free People Printed Soa Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Ankle-length | Material: Cotton, cupro, lyocell
Stylish and sophisticated, this silky dress features a shapeless silhouette and a one-shoulder bow-tie strap. The print is beautiful, and the bohemian style works for the beach even if it is black.
Most Simple: City Chic Trendy Plus Size Nouveau Flutter Dress
Size Range: 12W-14W | Length: Tea-length | Material: Linen, viscose, cotton
If you want to keep things simple and easy, opt for this wrap-style dress which is versatile and undeniably cute. The linen and cotton will also keep you perfectly breezy.
Most Fun Colors: Love and Blooms Navy Blue Floral Print Off-the-Shoulder Dress
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester
If there were ever an occasion to wear a blue and lavender dress, it would be a beach wedding. The off-the-shoulder look and subtle shimmer throughout make this Love and Blooms maxi a true dream.
Best Strapless: Wayf Angelique Strapless Tulip Gown
Size Range: XXS-XXL | Length: Tea-length | Material: Polyester, spandex
The peachy color (called grapefruit) makes this dress look like it was made for a summer night or day. The tulip skirt keeps the silhouette from being too simple, but otherwise, it definitely has a more minimalist feel.
Cutest Mini: Brighter Side Light Green Floral Satin Jacquard Mini Dressdr
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Mini | Material: Polyester, rayon
This youthful dress comes in a unique lime green shade, embroidered with a pretty floral print. However, what we love the most is the comfortable and versatile shape..
What to Look for in a Beach Wedding Guest Dress
When searching for the perfect dress to wear to a beach wedding, find a look that feels a bit more casual than what you might wear to a formal or semi-formal affair. If the wedding is taking place when during extra warm temperatures, opt for a dress that's light, airy, and comfortable, especially if the ceremony and/or reception are taking place outside. While you can definitely go for a more casual option, still keep the dress code in mind (if you're not sure, ask!). For a more formal beach wedding, choose pieces in solid bright colors, and for something less formal, feel free to look for patterns or even a jumpsuit. Flowy maxi dresses, bright cocktail dresses, and even a fun mini dress can be great for beach nuptials. As for fabrics, avoid heavy materials like satin and velvet.
Which fabrics are best for a beach wedding?
Most beach weddings take place during the heat of the summer, so you should stick to lighter fabrics like linen and cotton. Avoid heavier options like cashmere, velvet, or satin, as you'll want something breathable and airy that won't make you feel overheated and uncomfortable.
What kind of dresses should you wear to a beach wedding?
For a formal beach wedding, opt for long dresses in solid, bright hues. For semi-formal ceremonies, wear a cocktail dress that looks sleek without being too formal. Tea-length dresses are great for almost any dress code, especially if the event takes place in the sand—but feel free to sport a mini or a maxi dress as well. Lastly, jumpsuits are another great option, and for more informal nuptials, rompers work too.
What shoes should you wear to a beach wedding?
If the ceremony or reception takes place on an actual beach, with a lot of sand, you'll want to avoid stiletto heels which will be really hard to walk in. Instead, wear wedges or espadrilles. Sandals will always be your best option for beach weddings, whether they're heeled or flat—but most importantly, avoid fabrics that could easily get destroyed in the sand, like suede or satin.
About the Author
Contributing writer Jessica Booth is a freelance writer and formerly served as an editor for seven years. Her work has been featured in Bustle, Insider, Redbook, and Refinery29.