Have you been invited to a friend’s beach wedding? Wondering what to wear? Show up on the sand in style with our recommendations on the best beach wedding guest dresses.
You’ve RSVP’d to your friend’s beach wedding, you’ve bought your flight and you’ve reserved your room at the resort. Now comes the fun part—shopping for a dress! But wait, what do you wear to a beach wedding? Beach wedding guest outfits can be very different than traditional wedding guest attire, depending on the couple. Some bride and grooms go along with the relaxed atmosphere and vibe of the destination and ask guests to arrive in more casual looks. Other, more traditional, couples prefer to get a little fancy. So, how do you navigate the stormy seas of guest attire?
First of all, beach weddings are usually more casual than weddings held at traditional venues. However, there are still different levels of formality. Most couples suggest a dress code on their wedding invites, so look there first for clues. Let’s break down some popular wedding invite dress codes, shall we?
Wedding Invitation Dress Codes
- Formal Attire or Black Tie – Most traditional weddings aren’t even this formal these days, so we don’t expect to see this dress code listed on many beach wedding invites. Just in case though, Formal Attire and Black Tie dress codes usually mean long dresses or gowns.
- Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual – For both of these dress codes, you want to look nice, but you don’t want to get too carried away. A cocktail dress would be perfect for Semi-Formal, as long as it’s not too short or revealing. For Dressy Casual, perhaps break out of your comfort zone and opt for a non-traditional jumpsuit paired with some flashy accessories.
- Beach Formal – Now this is more like it. Beach Formal translates to fancy, but not too fancy. Think long and flowy dresses, but remember, you’re still on the beach. Leave the sequin gown at home, Cinderella.
- Casual – Maxi dresses and sundresses are our top picks here. Casual means more of a relaxed look, but not too laid back. Save the swimsuits and cover-ups for the pool. Remember, tagged photos on Facebook last forever.
Questions to ask yourself when online or IRL shopping for a beach wedding guest dress:
- Can I
do the wormdance in this? It needs to be dance floor friendly. Think lots of twirling. It’s not a wedding without the dancing if you ask us.
- Is it comfortable? See notes above. You have to be comfortable so you can get your boogie on.
- Is it bride-friendly? IMPORTANT: Do not wear anything that will take attention away from the bride. Just say no to too much leg or cleavage. Let that girl have her day. She deserves it.
- Is it white? Don’t you dare. See bride note above.
- Is it black? Nope, also wrong. Save this hue for a more somber occasion. This is a celebration, people!
Other things to think about when hunting for that perfect wedding guest dress:
- Dress for the time of day. Wear darker colors at night for a more dramatic look. And don’t forget a shawl or something to throw around your shoulders when the sun goes down. If the wedding is happening during the day, go for more vibrant and bright colors, and choose a material that is breathable and won’t cling to you when you glisten.
- Ditch the heels. Be careful when choosing shoes. Opt for sandals or wedges, heels can be tricky in the sand. Also, comfort is key. Need we remind you of the dance floor note mentioned above?
- Don’t be the girl who is a little too beachy. Comb your hair, would ya?! Just because the event is at the beach doesn’t mean you can throw on any old sundress with flats. On the hair note, if you’re going to be on the beach in the wind, think about an updo to keep your locks in their fancy place.
Phew, do you feel like we just spun you around and took off your blindfold? There are a lot of rules when it comes to beach wedding guest attire! If you’re still completely stumped, give the maid of honor a call and ask for her two cents. She’s likely already received 20 similar calls and will be happy to recommend something the bride will like.
Ready to shop? We’ve listed some popular beach wedding styles below, and have chosen our favorite dresses for each category.
Beach Wedding Guest Attire in this Post: (Click links to jump ahead)
- Formal & Semi-Formal Beach Dresses
- Casual Beach Dresses
- Non-Traditional Guest Attire
- Tropical Print Beach Dresses
Formal & Semi-Formal Beach Dresses
For Beach Formal weddings, we love jewel-tone dresses, fun hemlines and lace details.
1. Nordstrom Show Me Your MuMu Mariah Wrap Maxi Dress, $180
This flattering (and totally twirlable) chiffon maxi dress comes in 6 different hues, but we personally love the rich navy blue color, especially if the big show happens after sundown. Wedge sandals are a must, and consider adding some dainty gold accessories.
2. Nordstrom BB Dakota Ariane Mix Lace Dress, $115
Subtly show off a little skin in this delicate cantaloupe colored cutout dress. The bright color and lacy texture make it perfect for both afternoon and evening affairs. Pair it with a straw clutch and platform sandals.
3. ASOS Embroidered Casual Drop Waist Midi Dress, $38
Though it says “casual” in the name, we think the semi-sheer lace panel, flower embroidery and V-cut back on this dress make it anything but… especially if you pair it with fancier wedges and gold dangly earrings.
4. Anthropologie Tracy Reese Pleated Midi Dress, on sale right now for $119.95
Leave it to Tracy Reese to make a comfortable dress in a classic style that everyone can pull off. This is the dress you’ll be able to wear over and over again, on or off the sand. Bonus: it’s bra-friendly!
5. Nordstrom, Astr The Label Lace Midi Dress, $89
Casual Beach Dresses
A casual beach wedding is the perfect backdrop to show off some lightweight, flowy and flirty numbers.
1. Show Me Your Mumu Willa Maxi Dress ~ She Sails Stripe Flux, $180
This off the shoulder dress screams beach chic. If the wedding is during the day, take a note from the model and keep the sun out of your eyes with a fancy straw hat.
2. Target A New Day Women’s Short Sleeve Ruffle Wrap Dress, $27.99
3. Anthropologie Kira Embroidered Tunic Dress, $198
This embroidered tunic dress has been on our Buy It Already list for months now. The bright embroidery will shine at evening receptions. Dress it up a bit with wedges or keep it casual with flats. We also love the idea of carrying your must-haves in a red bag like this Rollover Clutch.
4. Zappos Lilly Pulitzer Meridian Midi Dress, $178
This strapless midi packs a lot of color. The slide slits allow for plenty of movement, so you’ll be able to shimmy those fun pink tassels across the dance floor. Don some strappy sandals and a gold necklace that highlights your collarbone.
5. Nordstrom 1901 Bow Front Strapless Midi Dress, $161
Gingham is a hot style right now and we don’t see us kicking it out of our closet any time soon. Also, any dress with pockets is our favorite dress of the moment. Wear it with these espadrille slides to accentuate your casual-chic beachy vibe.
Non-Traditional Beach Guest Attire
If you want to have some fun and try something a bit different, choose a jumpsuit in a vibrant color. Our picks below are as comfortable as they are stylish.
1. Net-A-Porter J.Crew Dark Matter Cotton-Blend Poplin Jumpsuit, $130
Kickstart the cropped wide-leg trend in your group by donning this pink number to your friend’s wedding. The wide tie belt breaks up the color and accentuates your waist, and that bamboo clutch? It’s definitely still a do.
2. Anthropologie Mara Hoffman Striped Wrap Jumpsuit, $425
Mara Hoffman is one of our design heroes. Everything she creates is gold, including this colorful wrap jumpsuit. We love the asymmetrical color blocking, and the fabric is perfect for seaside affairs. Dress it up with a little height or keep it casual with strappy sandals.
3. Anthropologie Checked Wide-Leg Jumpsuit, $158
The checkered print and rich green color of this comfortable wide-leg jumpsuit will make this a go-to in your closet. Pair it with gold statement earrings for some extra shine.
4. Net-A-Porter, J.Crew Marseille Belted Chambray Jumpsuit, $120
Helloooo, chambray! The lightweight fabric on this jumpsuit will help you keep your cool even on the warmest days. Pair it with some stylish espadrilles for height, and a bright clutch to add some color.
5. Nordstrom, Clover and Sloane Ruffle One-Shoulder Crop Jumpsuit, $98
Have some fun with color in this Blood Orange jumpsuit. We’re loving the cropped pants, one-shoulder ruffle and adorable bow in back. Throw on a chunky bangle and call it a (fashionable) day.
Tropical Print Beach Dresses
We love any excuse to throw on some tropical prints. They’re so perfect and relevant for destination weddings, so we decided they deserve their own section. Keep scrolling for our favorites.
1. Show Me Your Mumu Bronte Maxi Dress ~ Monet On Vacay, on sale right now for $129
Show off your flower power and shoulders in this racerback maxi dress. The front and back of the dress are long while the sides allow your legs a little play time.
2. Express Floral Off The Shoulder Fit And Flare Maxi Dress, $79.90
Look good while also feeling good in this off the shoulder soft and silky chiffon hi-lo maxi dress. Pair it with gold accessories for extra pop.
3. Shoptiques Tropical Pink Dress, on sale right now for $30
Arrive pretty in pink print (and super comfortable) in this V-neck, A-line fit dress that shows the perfect amount of leg.
4. Revolve Privacy Please X Revolve Lehunt Dress, $178
This one is definitely a favorite on our favorites list. Accentuate your waistline with a wrap tie and let your hair down to show off these vibrant earrings.
5. Show Me Your Mumu Byron Dress ~ Peruvian Palm Breeze, $150
This is another pick from our friends at Show Me Your Mumu. We love the swinging style of this above-the-knee dress, along with the palm print, high neckline and slinky straps.
Melody Lowe is the Director of Content & Strategy for Blender Networks, Inc. When she’s not managing blogs for FitMinutes, The-E-Tailer, Cartageous, InStyleRooms, NurturedPaws & Shoelistic, she’s rearranging her bookcase at home in Culver City, CA, getting her fix of breakfast tacos and Topo Chicos in her hometown of Austin, TX with her fiancé and rescue dog or managing her own blog, Mustache Melrose.