Beach Wedding Dress Code
We know that as you plan your wedding, both bride and groom will be scrutinizing Pinterest, Instagram and searching the web for the perfect wedding day ensemble. We are not going to try to give you exhaustive advice on the latest styles and trends in this chapter.
But, in the thousands of weddings we’ve organized, we have seen both smart and not-so-smart fashion decisions. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you pick out your outfits and tell your guests what to wear:
You want to look nice, but you are also going to the beach.
The formality of your ceremony is generally dictated by how formal your reception is going to be and how many guests you have.
If everyone is headed to a dive bar for a night of drinking and revelry after the ceremony, you are certainly going to be less dressed up than if everyone is heading to The Don Cesar hotel, St. Pete Beach’s historic “pink castle.” If your ceremony just has a handful of people in attendance, most couples scale down the dress code expectations.
Remember, the beach is sandy. This means brides want to avoid high heels or clogs. Most end up wearing simple flats, sandals or going barefoot. Most of our grooms (90%) start out with sandals but end up kicking them off and just going barefoot.
In the morning and evening, when we typically hold our ceremonies, the sand isn’t as hot, and most people have no problem going barefoot. After all, we are on the beach – pretty sure the heart rate goes down a little when you’re in the sand…
Groom’s dress code
Most of our grooms wear a simple ensemble: Khaki pants, a button-down shirt and maybe a tie (ties are present about a fourth of the time).
Those who are going the most formal may wear a vest, but almost no one wears a jacket. Not only is it hot and doesn’t breathe, but a jacket generally looks out of place during a beach ceremony.
Bride’s dress code
For the bride, keep in mind that you will be navigating down a sand aisle in whatever you wear. We had one bride who, against our recommendation, insisted on a traditional 10-foot-long train. It looked lovely in pictures to start, but by the time she reached the altar she was dragging 30 pounds of sand in her train. She was a little warm and not too happy about the sweat she had worked up from her impromptu workout.
If you are going to have a full-on wedding dress, we would urge you to have a short train or one that can be pinned up, so you don’t end up bringing a convoy of sand with you down the aisle.
We aren’t here to give fashion advice. But brides — we recommend keeping it simpler than you would if you were getting married indoors. The sun, breeze and sand are all factors that you should consider as you are putting together your wedding ensemble.
Bridal Hair Suggestions
Ultimately this is personal preference, and we don’t want to get in the way of a bride and her perfect hairstyle. To keep it simple when you think of something outdoors, potentially warm, and windy…think ‘up.’ In other words, it needs to be pinned and held in place well. The more that covers the shoulders, the more it acts as a sail and doesn’t let the neck breathe. I personally prefer a touch of flower (not flour), baby’s breath, small sunflowers, even an orchid will add a nice touch and further the beach theme.
On several occasions over the years, the wind kicked up and was coming from the back of where the bride traditionally stands…we offered to switch the setup (so the bride faced into the wind). Little trick, but this made for a more enjoyable experience and the same great photos!
What do we tell guests?
Most people will instinctively know that a beach wedding means they should look nice, but they don’t need to dress as if they are going to meet the queen.
But you may have some guests who are genuinely confused as to what to wear to your special event, so you can help them out on the invitation. Include a note that specifies the dress code.
Most of our couples opt for “polished casual.” This is what you would wear for a nice night out to a restaurant where you don’t need a jacket, but you also shouldn’t wear jeans. For the guys, this usually leads to them wearing khakis and a button-down. Ladies tend to wear a classy sundress.
It is also good to remind your guests (you probably don’t need to put this on the invitation) that they should arrive at the ceremony ready to go. Sometimes we’ll have bridal parties that show up expecting to do their makeup on site. Most of the spots where we hold weddings will have restrooms, however these are your typical beach bathrooms, which have blurry mirrors and no air conditioning, the last 100 people in there were sandy and is not an ideal spot to finish getting ready.
We highly recommend sunglasses for the guests but not the wedding party.
Most of our evening ceremonies use the setting sun as a backdrop. We try to situate the chairs so that the guests are not staring directly into the sun, but a pair of shades is still recommended.
For the bridal party, you should take your sunglasses off about 20 minutes before the ceremony begins. That way your eyes will have adjusted to the sun, and you will not be squinting in all the pictures.