Beach Wedding Dresses: The Style Guide

If you’re planning to say your I-dos with your toes in the sand, the wind in your hair, and the sun on your shoulders, you’ll need to wear the right shoes, a good hairspray, and lots of sunblock—and you’ll need the right kind wedding dress to wear on the beach.

Whether your beach is on a nearby lake or a faraway tropical locale, beach brides have a totally different set of guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect wedding dress for their beach weddings:

What’s your vibe?

Beach Wedding Dresses: The Style Guide

A beach wedding can be as casual as a day of fun in the sun or as swanky as a red carpet event. Consider the formality of your venue—will you be saying your vows with your toes in the damp sand and a simple cloth canopy over head? That atmosphere indicates less formality than a pergola covered with flowers. If your venue could go either way, look to your closet for a glimpse into your style.

  • Casual and laid back? Go for a short dress. No sand in your hem, no problem!
  • Boho? What’s better than lace for a vintage, bohemian, and romantic feel?
  • Sexy? Think cut-outs and illusion dresses.
  • Traditional? Nothing is more classic in bridal apparel than an A-line gown.

Style of dress

Beach weddings by nature conjure images of flowing dresses in breathable fabrics.   You can go as casual as a sundress—or even white linen pants!—to as formal as a traditional gown. Still, some styles seem to shout “beach wedding” more than others, such as a mermaid, empire waist, and simple sheaths.

Keep in mind that a Cinderella ballgown with a long train will weigh you down, which is not how you want to feel when the sun’s beating down, and you’re hoping for some sweet ocean breezes. If you’ve got your heart set on that silhouette, choose a gown with a billowy skirt made in a breathable fabric.

Choose the right fabric

Beach Wedding Dresses: The Style Guide

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting married in Hawaii and serving a luau or having a wedding on the East Coast complete with a lobster bake: you’ll want a fabric that can breathe. Look for wedding gowns made in:

  • Cotton
  • Organza
  • Chiffon
  • Silk

Brides who love the look of lace would do well to find a gown made in a light Chantilly lace—just be aware that lace or any similar material is prone to picking up sand.

It would be wise to steer clear of satin and anything with heavy brocade or beading; again, you want to avoid anything that will create more bulk or physical weight on your body when you’re standing out in the sun. Remember, a beach bride doesn’t have to be a sweaty bride!


When you think about straps on a bridal gown, you’d be inclined to picture a strapless gown. After all, wouldn’t the beach be the perfect setting to bare your shoulders? Bring on the shoulder-baring, but bring the straps along, too: most strapless wedding dresses provide built-in support, which translates into more fabric and more weight. (And see the section above on how we feel about that!) Some alternatives include spaghetti straps, halter styles, tank straps, a keyhole neckline, or flutter sleeves.

And if you need some inspiration, check out these gorgeous gowns:


Written by C. Farley for The Wedding Planning Store


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