Fashion Experts Reveal What to Wear to a Beach Wedding — and What to Avoid

If you're stumped about what to wear to that celebration in the sand, here are some outfit ideas for you, straight from stylists and influencers.

How to Dress for a Beach Wedding
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It's possible that no one is more excited for #shotgirlsummer than the brides of 2021. As more people get vaccinated, more social restrictions are lifted, which in turn translates to a lengthier guest list and the resurgence of traditional celebrations. That being said, the country is still at odds with the virus, so outdoor nuptials are likely to still be pretty popular this season. And, after a year and some months spent in quarantine, the question of what to wear to an outdoor wedding might weigh even heavier on your shoulders.

This is especially true when it comes to nailing down the perfect ensemble for formal events, and it gets even trickier when you're trying the perfect beach wedding outfit. While some of us are fully looking forward to dusting off the sexy staples we'd stowed away at the start of the pandemic, others are drawing a blank on how to put together a look that doesn't involve stretchy waistlines and oversized T-shirts.

So, in preparation for a summer of seeing our loved ones say "I do," InStyle reached out to some pros for a few quick tips.

Wear Something Colorful

"If quarantine has taught us anything, it's that life is short, [so] show up and celebrate in COLOR," says Melissa Chataigne. The television host, stylist, and producer, tells InStyle that, for this wedding season, she's particularly fond of this fiery orange halter dress from Ramy Brook, as the color looks gorgeous against a variety of skin tones and the cut cinches at the waist to accentuate your curves. "This is a one-and-done look that can be folded and comes out wrinkle free with a quick steam in a shower for a stress free wedding prep."

Choose Elevated Sandals Over Traditional Heels

As for footwear, Chatiagne is a fan of strappy sandals that can go from the beach to the dance floor, since you can pack them for the wedding but also wear them for the rest of your vacation.

"I love the metallic accent [on this London Rebel pair] that gives a bit of elegance," Chatiagne says. "No one will notice that they are flats with the tie up detail. So on point this season."

How to Dress for a Beach Wedding
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Experiment With Fabrics and Cuts

According to stylist Cate Pope, the perfect beach wedding outfit channels a combination of cocktail and casual dress. For summer 2021, that will translate to modern feminine pieces for the stylist.

"Ditch the paisley or the boho and opt for unexpected fabrics and interesting cut outs," Pope advises. "Take this Gabriela Hearst maxi dress with a keyhole and interesting leather bralette for example. I'd team it with a metallic flat sandal, clutch and bold gold jewelry to create a strong, confident and modern look."

Keep Things Light & Breezy With A Maxi Dress

Emily Herren of Champagne and Channel says that whenever she thinks of beach weddings, "a breezy maxi dress is the first thing that comes to mind," especially ones with eye-catching floral designs.

"Maxi dresses are also very easy to dress up or down, depending on the dress code of the wedding. I would wear a simple sandal that won't compete with the beautiful print of the dress."

Be Mindful Of Hem Length

Although maxi dresses are no doubt a solid option, long dresses can also end up being surprisingly inconvenient when you're trudging through sand. If you're panicked about getting your look dirty or having to tug at your outfit all night, Joanna Angeles, head stylist at Tobi, recommends opting for a sleek cocktail dress, midi dress, or a tiered ruffle skirt that isn't as lengthy instead.

Take Summer Weather Conditions Into Consideration

Angeles also says that reaching for dresses with halter necks and backless cuts will look elevated and beat the heat, as they're "flattering and perfect for hot summer nights." The stylist also mentions that, when considering fabrics, satin is her go-to for warm weather seasons.

"It's lightweight and it can elevate the style of a simple slip dress enough for any formal event," she tells InStyle.

How to Dress for a Beach Wedding
Getty Images

Muted Florals

A muted floral dress with back cut outs is equal parts feminine and sexy, plus it's a versatile piece you can wear for different events down the line. According to Herren, this blue and white floral dress from Reformation is an excellent option as it's made from quality, sustainable materials that will last for years.

"[For a beach wedding], I would pair this dress with the Daniella Heel by Sam Edelman," Herren tells us. "This is my go-to shoe for weddings because they're so comfortable and match with everything."

Balance Is Key

Prints and bright colors are festive and don't require too much accessorizing, says Malissa Akay, chief merchandising officer at Express.

"Simple, strappy sandals and beautiful earrings complete the look, and you're ready to celebrate."

This is Ask the Experts, where our favorite fashion know-it-alls share their wisdom. Just because you can trust your style instincts doesn't mean you should have to.

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