What Should I Wear To A Wedding On The Beach?
First, we’ll start with a quick hit list in case you’re pressed for time. If you want to go in-depth, we have plenty of information throughout this article.
- Think linen or cotton, not wool.
- Ties are optional.
- “Casual” still requires attention to detail.
- You don’t have to wear dress shoes, or any shoes for that matter.
- Waistcoats offer dressiness & comfort simultaneously.
- Keep the colors light.
While we associate beaches with summer, folks getting married on beaches aren’t necessarily getting married in the summertime. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’re planning a destination wedding to a tropical locale during your home country’s winter.
If so, good on you! It’s essentially a built-in honeymoon, and your guests will appreciate the opportunity to get out of dodge for a while.
Getting married or even just being in a wedding is an exciting time, and getting to do so on a beach just adds to the fun. Beaches make for wonderful photographs and videos, not to mention good old-fashioned memories.
But deciding what to wear to a beach wedding can be confusing for grooms and guests alike. Typical beach gear is as casual as can be. Men often wear bathing trunks, flip-flops, and sunglasses. That’s generally the end of it.
As you might imagine, this simply won’t cut it when you or your friends are getting hitched. Let’s explore some different options.
Beach Wedding Ceremonies
Beach weddings are just about the most informal weddings around. As such, it’s not really necessary to discuss formal versus informal dress codes as we did in our other wedding guides. The vibe is, by default, dressed down.
With that said, you still have plenty of options at your disposal. Some things to consider when making your decision as to what to wear are:
- Just how casual is the event going to be? Some men want to wear a suit even with waves crashing at their feet. Others give that idea side eye for days.
- Have you ever been described or described yourself as “sweaty?” If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then you might want to consider comfort above all else.
Beach Wedding Suits: Tips To Stay Cool & Look Good
It’s not at all uncommon to wear a suit to a beach wedding, especially if the reception is in a nearby location with air conditioning. It is a very special occasion after all, and a bit of sartorial decorum to signify this is always a good thing in our book.
The question is, how do you look awesome in your suit while maintaining at least some semblance of comfort? Here are a few tips:
Linen and cotton are your friends: While you can certainly wear a wool suit in a tropical weight to a beach wedding, linen and cotton are better choices. Not only do they tend to be better suited (pardon the pun) to warm climates, but they will both acquire a bit of wrinkle to them with even minimal wear.
Seersucker is also a great choice but if you don’t like stripes, consider solid seersucker instead. You can compare the differences between these fabrics in our guide to linen and seersucker.
This look of being slightly rumpled, elegantly disheveled, or whatever you want to call it, is perfectly suited (ahem) to a beach wedding’s casual nature. Furthermore, every guy can benefit from owning a summer suit (lots of folks get married in the summer), so it makes sense from a long-term investment standpoint too.
Colors & Accessories
Ditch the tie & roll up your sleeves
We suggest linen or cotton suits in khaki, light blue, light grey or white. If you’re a groom thinking about wearing a white suit, make sure your fiancé is cool with it.
Lots of guys nowadays aren’t letting their fiancés look at their suits in the same way that grooms aren’t allowed to see the dress until the day. Naturally, you do not want your wife-to-be to be furious for wearing what has traditionally been her color and her color only.
- Lose the tie: Even if you’re wearing a shirt with a perfectly-fitted collar (which is to say, one that doesn’t strangle you to death), forgoing the tie is a good idea for the beach. This again hearkens back to beach weddings’ laid-back vibe, and you will simply be more comfortable.
- Avoid dark colors: Dark colors attract sunlight (and therefore heat), whereas lighter colors reflect them. This isn’t to say that wearing all white is like walking around in your own personal air conditioner, but it will be much less stuffy and far more appropriate than a dark navy suit, for example.
Regarding color: color decisions for the groom and wedding party will likely be dictated by the wedding colors, a set of colors that determines the color theme of the event. This influences just about everything from floral arrangements to cake icing.
More relevant to this discussion, it can also influence what you wear in terms of your accessories. We have a guide for color coordination if you need help with it.
Guests should not worry about adhering to wedding colors.
Casual Wedding Attire Options
Suits aren’t the only acceptable clothing options for weddings. One reason that folks decide to have beach weddings in the first place is that it’s more casual, so it makes sense that grooms and their groomsmen would dress down.
Here are a few ideas as to how to do that while keeping things stylish.
- Shorts: Well, not shorts per se. Roll up your trousers like you would shirt sleeves. You’ll be cool and comfortable, and your groomsmen and guests will surely appreciate following your sartorial lead.
- Head-to-toe linen: It’s very popular to wear linen shirts and trousers. It’s casual but still smart, and it’ll keep you reasonably cool.
- Wear a waistcoat: A vest with trousers and a shirt will add a dash of rakishness to your ensemble, and they can also be found (or made for you, either bespoke or made-to-measure) in linen. Being a sleeveless garment, it will also be cooler than a full suit. An added bonus is that wearing a vest affords you a place to put a boutonniere, as you can see above.
Best Beach Wedding Shoes For Men
Beaches pose particular issues regarding footwear for guys. For many of us, it’s difficult to picture wearing anything but a dress shoe with a suit. Being on a beach, however, changes the game a bit.
Here are some of the best footwear options for men involved in beach weddings:
The following sections include more information about men’s beach wedding shoes and our top recommendations for each style of shoe.
If you’re adamant about wearing dress shoes, we completely understand. Furthermore, the whole ceremony may not take place on a beach and it would look odd for you to stroll up the aisle of a local venue with flip flops!
We’d generally suggest loafers over other styles of shoes. Firstly, it’s likely going to be summer so they’d be more fitting. Similarly, if you’re taking your shoes on and off, laces would be inconvenient. You could also consider monkstrap shoes instead as they’re dressier and equally easy to remove in a hurry!
There are many different types of loafer and we cover them all in separate guides. We’ve listed them here in order of formality:
Since they’ll likely be taking a beating in the sand, avoid shoes that are too luxurious as you might regret damaging them. You can also protect your shoes beforehand with some wax or dubbin. Additionally, tan is a safe color as it works well for the setting and scratches won’t be as visible.
Nevertheless, don’t feel like you have to wear something cheap. Beckett Simonon is an excellent brand that offers superb value as well as a 20% discount with the code BU20. Meanwhile, Ace Marks is a little more expensive but shipping is quicker as the shoes aren’t made-to-order.
Finally, a tough call is whether to opt for Blake-stitched or Goodyear-welted shoes. Goodyear welts offer additional water resistance but can be stuffy. However, Blake-stitched shoes have slimmer profiles and breathe better in the heat.
Since Goodyear welted shoes are more expensive, it’s your call!
Our Top Recommendations: Beckett Simonon & Ace Marks
Quintessential beach footwear, flip-flops are great particularly if you’re wearing shorts or just trousers and a linen shirt. Make sure that they’re on the dressier side (insofar as flip-flops can be dressy). Nothing athletic-inspired, nothing super bulky.
Just slim, streamlined, and (ideally) with leather straps. Most importantly, ensure that your toes are not gross. Get a pedicure or even medical treatment if you have to. Another alternative is Birkenstocks, which can embody a wonderfully Bohemian feel to the event.
Our Top Recommendation: OluKai Ohona Flip Flop
We know, you won’t be on a boat during your ceremony. But boat shoes are a great hot-weather shoe whose nautical heritage speaks directly to the huge body of water next to which you’re getting married.
Our Top Recommendation: Allen Edmonds Maritime Boat Shoe
Going shoeless is an option. It is the beach, after all…
If you go this route, make sure that you’re standing on a blanket or something. There’s no pain in the world like bare feet on hot sand!
Another misnomer, driving shoes are made for driving but are barely ever worn for that purpose exclusively. Comfortable and casual but still slim and handsome, drivers are great for beach weddings.
We’re quite fond of the Oliver Cabell driving shoes, which have a more structured and formal design. However, if you want something laidback, Aurélien has a more artisanal aesthetic.
Our Top Recommendation: Oliver Cabell
We used to feature slides in this space and while there are some attractive leather options, they don’t quite have the same carefree Bohemian vibe as classic espadrilles!
Indeed, espadrilles are wonderful to wear on the beach and a great alternative to sandals. Fold the back down and wear them like slippers or pull them up and wear them like loafers!
Our Top Recommendation: Soludos Dali Espadrilles
A cream-colored linen suit with white Chuck Taylors is perhaps a bit trendy, but it’s also fun. If you’re the kind of guy who lives in sneakers and is getting married on a beach, consider this option.
Our Top Recommendation: Beckett Simonon
Dressing Your Groomsmen For Beach Nuptials
Our advice as outlined in our general wedding guide still stands for beach weddings. A couple of common themes are:
- Have everyone dress identically: It’s simple, it’s easy, and it makes for continuity in photos. Everyone in matching suits, everyone in matching vests, everyone in matching shorts, whatever you like. The choice is yours.
- Dress your groomsmen identically with you dressed a bit differently: If you prefer to have a bit of a spotlight on you as the groom, then this is definitely the way to go. A couple of ideas here are:
- Groom in a suit, groomsmen in trousers and a vest in a matching color
- Groom in matching trousers & waistcoat, groomsmen in trousers & shirts the same colors as the groom’s
- Everyone in matching vests, trousers, & ties, but groom in a different color tie.
For instance, the groom and groomsmen can wear the same suit, but the groom’s shirt, tie, and pocket square are all different. The suits could certainly benefit from some alterations, but the color story and general aesthetic theme are all there.
Finally, consider a boutonnière to unify the wedding party with a pop of color!
How Guests Should Dress
As we’ve stated, beach weddings are inherently casual. It’s reasonable to assume that your guests will want to look nice but also still be comfortable, so giving them some guidance is helpful.
It’s wise to say “beach formal” on your invitations. This will indicate to guests that they should dress up but still keep in mind that they’ll be contending with sun, sand, and water.
For men, this means a summer suit, with a tie being optional. It can also mean simple linen slacks and a button-down shirt. The best thing to do is think of what you’d wear to a nice restaurant in the summertime and use that as a guide.
If the dress code is “casual,” then you’re safe in slacks and a button-down or even a polo shirt. Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts, or other street clothing to a wedding. “Casual” in this sense means, “Hey, come celebrate with us and have a good time.”
It doesn’t mean, “Come to my wedding looking like you’re just rolling out of your house to run errands”!
Getting married on the beach is a great time whether you’re a groomsman, groom, or guest. We’ll leave you with a hit list of things to remember as it relates to what you wear:
- Think linen or cotton, not wool
- Ties are optional
- “Casual” still requires attention to detail
- You don’t have to wear dress shoes
- Waistcoats offer dressiness & comfort simultaneously
- Keep the colors light
If you need more information on suits in general, click here. We also have more general advice on weddings such as what to get your groomsmen, what men in the military should wear, and more.
If you want to read more around the subject, check out some of our related guides below or in the menu above: