If you were recently invited to a destination wedding, chances are you’ve been keeping an eye out for good flight deals, figuring out how to ask your boss for more time off, and daydreaming about all the frosty cocktails you’re going to enjoy. Don’t get us wrong — these are important (especially the last one). But if you haven’t thought about your destination wedding attire, now’s the time.
Men’s destination wedding attire doesn’t differ much from normal wedding attire. That’s especially true if the couple is getting married in a climate similar to what you have at home. That said, many couples opt for beach destination weddings. If that’s the case, you’ll have to make a few adjustments.
But not to worry! We’ve put together a complete guide to destination wedding dressing, so you can understand the difference between beach formal wedding attire and beach casual wedding attire, and feel confident selecting the right pieces based on wedding location, season, and weather.
Although destination weddings differ a lot from local weddings (hello jet lag, cultural differences, and language barriers), wedding guest attire doesn’t change much. The biggest differences come down to the color palette and choice of footwear. Simply put, you’ll see fewer black suits and more casual shoes at a destination wedding.
Before we go into more detail about what to wear to a destination wedding, though, let’s look at wedding dress codes in general.
This is the fanciest of all dress codes and one you’ll likely never encounter during a destination wedding, unless you’re BFFs with a prince or something. Men should wear formal attire consisting of a waist-length coat with tails, a white waistcoat, and a white bow tie.
Navy blue or black tuxedos are the name of the game here. Along with the jacket and trousers, men should wear a white button-down shirt and a black bow tie. Cummerbunds or waistcoats are acceptable, but optional. This is likewise a dress code you’re unlikely to see at a destination wedding.
This is a common dress code for beach-set destination weddings. Men should wear a beach wedding outfit with a matching jacket and pants (in light colors and fabrics), a button-down shirt, and a tie.
For semi-formal destination weddings, casual suits are appropriate, but you can play around with colors and patterns. For example, a floral print shirt or a bright green pocket square add a bit of fun to the outfit.
No suit jackets are required here. Casual beach wedding outfits include a nice pair of khakis, a short-sleeved button-down shirt, and a coordinating belt.
It’s important to note that destination weddings and beach weddings aren’t exactly synonymous. However, beaches are one of the most common choices for destination weddings, and this fact warrants an entire section on beach wedding dress codes.
For each possible beach wedding dress code, we’ll provide several options to help you select the best beach wedding attire. These tips apply to most ceremonies, but you should still pay attention to the weather and time of the ceremony when making your final outfit decisions.
A beach wedding at a swanky resort or a private yacht club calls for beach formal attire. While the words “beach” and “formal” don’t usually go together, getting dressed for a beach formal occasion isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Beach formal wedding attire calls for suits, button-down shirts, ties, and dress shoes. However, keep the setting in mind when getting dressed. Consider wearing items made from lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton, seersucker, or linen. Keep your color palette neutral or light-colored, with shades like baby blue, light pink, tan, and beige. Finish off your look with a classic pair of dress shoes (we’re big fans of Oxfords, derbies, and wingtips) in camel or light brown.
Also referred to as cocktail attire, semi-formal beach attire retains some of the dressier elements found in the formal dress code, while still feeling relaxed.
To pull off the semi-formal look, start with a pair of dressy pants in a lightweight fabric. The silhouette is up to you, but a cropped or cuffed pair is perfect for the dressy yet casual look you’re going for. Pair them with a long-sleeve, button-down shirt. You can accessorize with a colorful tie or go sans tie, leaving the first button undone for a more casual look. Breezy blazers or light sport coats are acceptable, but not required (especially if the mercury is climbing). Complete your look with casual, closed-toed shoes like loafers or moccasins.
A casual beach wedding is the easiest to dress for, but it doesn’t mean a beach wedding guest should look sloppy. Avoid overly casual items like jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops. Instead, match a button-down shirt (short-sleeve or long-sleeve) or a polo with khaki pants. You might even be able to get away with wearing chino shorts, but stick to pants if you’re unsure. Likewise, a dressy pair of sandals (fisherman or gladiator style) might fit the chill vibes, but if you have any doubts, go for loafers or boat shoes.
In most cases, the wedding invitation will mention the dress code. However, if that’s not the case, choose a fancier look rather than a casual one. You can always remove a blazer or tie if you’re overdressed. You can’t change your outfit if you show up in shorts and a polo shirt.
While black is a popular color for local weddings, it’s usually best to avoid it at destination weddings. How a wedding guest dresses sets the tone for the wedding, and black is just too depressing for tropical locales. Instead, wear colors inspired by the location. For example, a beach wedding in the Caribbean calls for bright colors and bold prints.
You have two options for a color scheme for a beach wedding: light-colored neutrals or bold tropical shades. If you wear neutrals, opt for beige, tan, or light blue. If you go the bright route, orange, mint green, and salmon are flattering options.
Although white is an excellent color choice for hot days, white is still a taboo color for guests at beach weddings. This includes cream, ivory, or similar colors that could be mistaken for white.
It’s tempting to sink your toes into the sand at a beach wedding, but you absolutely need to wear shoes when attending oceanside nuptials. Choose your footwear based on the formality of the event. Sandals are acceptable for casual weddings, whereas boat shoes and moccasins are good for semi-formal events. The dressiest beach weddings call for dress shoes.
You may have your outfit sorted, but do you still get the hint your buddy needs help planning his big day? Point him to our destination wedding guide for more in-depth information on all things destination weddings, from choosing a date, to settling on a guest list, to planning the ceremony.