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Ahhhhh, summer weddings on the Outer Banks.

Wedding couples spend many hours picking out a perfect beach location and deciding what he/she is going to wear at their Outer Banks wedding. But guests often wonder what to wear for beach weddings. This guide will help you find beach wedding attire that looks good and is still comfortable.

Beach weddings are often more casual affairs than church weddings, however, dressing for a wedding on the beach can take some planning. Here are some tips on what to wear to an Outer Banks wedding - taking time and location into consideration.


Choose your beach wedding attire

For guests to a beach wedding, casual clothing may be appropriate. However, this is still a wedding, so guests should dress nicer than they would if they were running errands on the weekend.

For a summer beach wedding, you’ll definitely want to wear something that moves and breathes well. So light cottons, linens, and silk blends are good choices for men and women.

Women should look for a light sundress for daytime, or a long elegant dress that feels beachy for an evening wedding. The more upscale you want to look, the fancier the fabric should be with simple cotton being the most casual and satin and shiny materials being the dressiest.

For a daytime wedding, men should wear a light shade of khaki or tan for their suit, and a pastel pink or yellow shirt.

For a night affair, pair an olive or chocolate-brown jacket with white linen or cotton pants and an open-collared white linen shirt.

For a more casual look, men could wear dress pants with a button-down or polo shirt.

Tip: Men, avoid heavy fabrics. Don't be the sweaty mess in the three-piece suit. A crisp, pulled-together look honors the happy couple and may catch the eye of that lovely single guest. An added touch? Try a pocket square. It gives you a finished, polished look so you can forget the tie, which can be uncomfortable.



One of the most important things to know in advance is whether the wedding will take place on the sand or on grass (or another solid surface). Beach or elsewhere, you should select shoes that are practical. You don't want to be that guest struggling to walk in expensive high heels or scuffing up your nice shoes in the sand. 

Ladies, skip the stilettos in favor of cute flats or sandals. Gentlemen, don’t be afraid to sport a pair of nice sandals. Remember that you may be walking through sand and if you don't have the option to take your shoes off, you'll want shoes that are easy to walk in.

Different locations call for different footwear:

  • Beach (sand): You should wear flat shoes to a beach wedding, particularly if it is being held right on the sand. Fancy flip-flops are perfect for most beach weddings - but why not take it up a notch with a pretty sandal? Flat sandals can be both chic and comfortable. Select a thong sandal embellished with crystals, stones or other adornments.
  • Grass or other hard surface: Try kitten heels, wedges, or Espadrilles.

Tip: You can always bring a pair of comfortable flip flops for dancing afterwards!


Plan for Outer Banks weather

Although not on the formal guest list, Mother Nature should not be forgotten as a guest - bringing with her sun, sand, wind, and possibly rain.

Sun: Hats aren't just for the Kentucky Derby or the ballpark, they can be a chic fashion accessory for a summer wedding. Select a hat with a wide brim for optimal sun protection. Make sure to wear makeup or moisturizer with SPF and don't forget your sunscreen.

Wind: Remember, it can get breezy at Outer Banks beach weddings. Be prepared to pull long hair back into a ponytail or to use a scarf as a headband. Have a pashmina, wrap, or sweater for cool breezes.

Rain: Make sure you consider an umbrella, hat, or shawl to wear like a headscarf, or be prepared for hair to do its own thing.

Tip: Long, floaty dresses for the ladies (or loose hairstyles) may prove troublesome and a shorter, close fitting dress may be more practical if wind is going to be a factor. View Outer Banks weather.


What not to wear to a beach wedding

Although beach weddings are more casual affairs, there are a few common points to note:

  • It is standard not to wear white in order to not conflict with the bride's dress.
  • Try to avoid wearing black for a daytime beach wedding... the sun gets hot!
  • Formal dress is not usual due to the weather but the couple may specifically request it.
  • Avoid wearing jeans, really short shorts (or dresses) or ripped clothes.

When in doubt about proper wedding attire, ask a bridesmaid, groomsman, the parents of the bride, or the happy couple if they are close friends. When in doubt, go slightly dressier and remove a suit jacket or embellished cardigan to simpler clothing underneath.

Need a place to stay when you attend an Outer Banks beach wedding? We have amazing Outer Banks rentals ranging from 1-10 bedrooms (including oceanfront condos) so you can enjoy the beach while you're here.