What to wear to a beach wedding

bride and grrom

Look cool and stylish on the sticky sand
Image source: Shutterstock

An invitation to a beach wedding is an invitation to show off your summer dress sense to the max. But looking your immaculate best in this setting requires care when selecting your wardrobe. Get it wrong and you run the risk of looking like a beach bum, or worse, like a businessman marooned on a desert island after a plane crash. Here’s how to get it right.

Rules still apply

dress code

Check the wedding invitation carefully for a dress code
Image source: Shutterstock

Always check the dress code before you make your sartorial decisions. You’d be surprised how many people are caught out by not reading the wedding invitation propery. If the event is to be a dressed-down casual affair, or an extravaganza of colorful Hawaiian shirts and shorts, your hosts will write it on the invitation.

If there’s no formal notice of what to wear, the rule is simple: your go-to look is smart, but with a casual twist that’ll make sure you enjoy the feel of the sand between your toes – not end up wishing you were small enough to hide behind the nearest sandcastle.

Suits for the sand


Groomsmen looking smart and cool in linen, jazzed up with a splash of blue
Image source: Shutterstock

Choose any suit as long as its linen. This is the perfect fabric to wear to a seaside wedding, especially if the venue is tropical. The wide weave of linen fibres allows the air to circulate, keeping you cool and dry. As the The GQ team say: “The last thing you want to be doing is sweating your ass off in [an autumn-weight] wool suit. Consider an ultra-breathable khaki linen suit.”

If you’re not into khaki or cream, blue is a failsafe option. Clothes Make the Man says: “Sometimes, warmer weather calls for cooler tones – mixing and blending the key seasonal colour of blue will add a fresh and casual touch, without being too informal.”

Some might be discouraged from wearing linen suits because of their tendency to wrinkle. This is perfectly fine – it’s part of the fabric’s appeal – but if you’re worried, go for a cotton-linen mix, which adds a little stiffness to the material without losing the cooling, moisture-wicking, properties that make linen so comfortable to wear.

Summer separates

summer blazer

Pastel colours work beautifully in a seaside setting
Image source: Samuel Windsor’s Boating Blazers

Why not consider wearing a blazer with contrasting trousers? Tailored separates are a well established smart-casual look that’s an excellent match for a beach wedding.

The trick to separates is not to go too garish. As Michael 84 says: “you can create a much more summery vibe with your outfit using different colours, as long as you stick to a colour palette which is not too bold.”

Dapper Chapper agrees saying: “Pastel colours can work brilliantly, however if you don’t want to be that daring (and fair enough old boy, it’s a tough nut to crack) then a nice stone or tan can also look cracking.”

Will everyone be wearing linen? If you want to cut a different dash, we recommend you consider a seersucker jacket. It’s a cotton fabric, but the weave is slightly bunched to give it a crepe-like look. It’s an American classic, and because the slightly rough texture keeps the fabric from sticking to the skin, you’ll be super cool in more ways than one.

One word of caution – if you’re going down the separates route, a linen jacket won’t look good with contrasting linen trousers. Go for a pair of smart cotton chinos, and an open-neck cotton shirt.

Shoe selection

suede shoes

Suede is a good choice for a smart look
Image source: Shutterstock

Possibly the trickiest part of your beach wedding ensemble. You want your feet to be comfortable, but you don’t want sand trapped inside your shoes or to suffer the ignominy of facing your better shod peers in nothing but a pair of flip-flops.

The answer is suede. There’s not a lot we can do about the sand, but at least you’ll look sharp. A cream, or tan pair will see you blend in, but a pop of colour can be a good choice. If you’re wearing a pale suit, keep the shade pastel, but otherwise, check out blues, green and perhaps for you more daring fellows, red…

Or, for something completely different, you could opt for a pair of closed toe sandals. That way, you’ll still look swish, but your toes will be aerated and the sand won’t stick around either. Again go for suede or perhaps brown leather.


pocket square

Ditch the tie and add a pop of colour with a smart pocket square
Image source: Kent Wang on Flickr

A cool beach look is a classic, minimalist look, and for that reason we recommend that you leave your tie at home and limit your accessories to a smart wrist watch, pocket square and hat. As Dapper Chapper says: “There’s a fine line between killing it and overkill, so I’d advise a maximum of two accessories.”

We couldn’t agree more – it’s a beach wedding, not Brideshead Revisited. The must-have headgear for the occasion is surely the good old panama hat. Not only will it keep the sun off your face, neck and ears, but you’ll exude classic charm.

And as for squares, the only option for a summer wedding is silk. Go for a bright flare of colour to make the soft creams, tans or pastels of the rest of your outfit sing.

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Posted in What to wear guides.