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married couple on beach

What to Wear to a Destination Wedding

Let’s face it, when you get that invitation to a destination wedding, I bet the last thing on your mind is what clothes you’re going to pack. You might start fantasizing about the tropical beaches, busy city, or a beautiful vineyard your friend or family will be getting married at. But, it’s important to remember that while you have an excuse to go on a mini-vacation, you still have a wedding to attend.

No matter where this destination wedding is, here’s a guide on what is the most appropriate wedding attire to pack for both men and women!

woman at beach wedding

Beach Destination

Whether it’s a formal, semi-formal, or casual dress, it’s important to know what to wear at a beach wedding. Beach weather can be sort of unpredictable; from wind, humidity, rain, or heat, there’s a lot to factor in when choosing what to wear for a beach wedding.

Often, beach weddings have a “beach formal” dress code, which means you should wear something nice and elegant like standard wedding attire, but also light enough to be comfortable on a beach. 


Lighter fabric is the best way to go. They won’t cling to your body and give you annoying sweat marks. Materials like chiffon, linen, or cotton blend will be your best friend for a beachside wedding.

You can never go wrong with a flowy sundress or floral romper paired with cute sandals or flip flops. Try and go colorful, too! Black attracts heat and would be uncomfortable, so spice it up with something like teal blue or hot pink! Whatever you do, just don’t wear white. For a tropical beach wedding, consider bright colors that you might not typically wear to a formal wedding! A beach wedding is a chance to be bold and colorful. 

Also, keep in mind that seaside weddings tend to be windy, so avoid wearing anything that is too loose, short, or flowy. You wouldn’t want to flash anyone! Just because a beach wedding may be slightly less formal doesn’t mean your dress should be inappropriately short.

As far as shoes, nice sandals are acceptable, but don’t wear your plain beach flip flops. If you want to pack more comfortable shoes for the reception, feel free to do so. Make sure you wear shoes that can walk on sand if the wedding takes place directly on the beach.


Guys should probably consider linen or cotton, too. A light colored pair of slacks and a button down should be fine if you’re on the beach. If the dress is formal, you may have to stick to a suit and tie, but anything else should remain casual.

It’s best to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, especially if you’re going to be standing in the sand for a while.  

Pro tip, do not wear shorts! Unless explicitly said on the invitation, that is not wedding attire appropriate.

beach wedding

Wine Country Destination

In popular wine country destination wedding locations like Napa Valley, you already know you’re going to have a fun time because of the great wine you’ll be drinking. Typically, most vineyard weddings will be outside for some part of the wedding and then be in a tented or indoor area for the reception. So, be prepared for any situation.  

Winery weddings can vary in the dress code. Also, keep in mind that some may require a very formal black tie to semi-formal.


Whether this wedding is semi-formal or dressy casual, a simple cocktail dress or a maxi dress would be perfect choices to wear. If you don’t want to wear a dress, try a pantsuit or dressy skirt.

Considering you might be walking the grounds of the winery, give your feet a break and wear some comfy wedges. They are way more comfortable than stilettos and won’t get stuck in the grass.


Typically, it is appropriate for men to wear a traditional suit and tie. You could also choose some dressy slacks and your favorite sports jacket. Although you may choose a dressy shoe, make sure they are comfortable because you may be walking around the winery grounds. 


Big City Destination

Although you may have been wanting to travel to a tropical beach, a big city wedding can be just as fun and exciting! Depending on the dress code, you have the opportunity to go all out with a big city destination wedding. Typically, venues in a big city will be a little more high class, so what you wear needs to reflect that. 


For a big city destination wedding, try to wear something a little more sophisticated. A burgundy dress with a nice set of stiletto heels should do the trick. If you opt out for a dress, a chic pantsuit would be very appropriate, too. Ultimately, wear whatever matches your style and account for the season and weather in the city.

While city weddings are often more formal, that isn’t necessarily the case. Check the invitation or the wedding website for details about dress code and whether it’s black tie, semi formal, or otherwise.


For a big city wedding, it’s best for the guys to stick to a formal suit and tie. Darker colors like black or a darker gray would look very sophisticated inside a big city wedding venue.

New York city skyline

Factors to Consider When Planning Your Outfit

When you’re invited to a wedding, it’s normal to think “What should I wear?” A destination wedding is an even more exciting affair that gives you a chance to leave town for a big event. There is also more to consider when dressing for a destination wedding – you have to prepare to pack your outfit for the big day as well as any other days of travel. Consider these factors when asking yourself what to wear to a destination wedding.


In what season does the wedding take place? Is the destination tropical? Will the wedding take place outdoors? What will the temperature be? What about humidity?

Ask yourself these questions and more when planning your outfit. Since you’re traveling to a different location, you may need to do some research about the weather there to ensure that you’re prepared to dress comfortably. Don’t assume, however, that all beach weddings will be hot and humid; depending on your destination and the season, it might be cooler than expected.

Do your research on the local weather and come prepared with weather appropriate wedding attire.

Dress Code

The bride and groom should mention a dress code either on the invitation or on their wedding website. If they don’t, ask! It’s important to know how formal or casual the dress code is for the wedding so that you can pick an appropriate outfit.

The dress code may range from casual to black tie formal, regardless of the destination. Try to adhere to the dress code as well as possible – no one wants to be the underdressed wedding guest, but you also don’t want to be uncomfortable and overdressed either.


Be sure to consider the venue when choosing your outfit. By venue, we mean the general setting more than the specifics of the banquet hall. Consider if you’ll be indoors or outdoors, on solid ground or on a beach or a grassy garden area.

These factors may affect what you choose to wear. For example, for a wedding in a garden you might want to avoid a floor length, pale gown that may get dirty. On a rooftop or another windy setting, avoid short dresses that may get ruffled by the wind.

The type of venue is also important to note when choosing footwear. If your heels will sink into sand or soft ground, they may not be the right choice for an outdoor wedding.


Finally, consider how your outfit of choice will travel. Depending on how far the wedding is from your home, you may have to drive for long hours, or book a flight or train ticket. If you’re flying or traveling via train, make sure that you can fit your chosen outfit.

A garment bag may not be an easy carry on, so you may want to choose something that can be safely packed in your bags. If you’re packing your dress or suit in a bag, try to pick material that won’t wrinkle too much or be damaged during travel.

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