Toes in the water, vows in the sand — or whatever Zac Brown Band sang in like 2009. We don’t remember the lyrics entirely, but we’re definitely in the ballpark. Either way, you’re getting married, and you’re doing it on the beach. Congrats on getting your fiancé to allow you to wear shorts to your wedding. You’re off to a good start.
However, just because you can wear shorts to your wedding doesn’t mean all bets are off. There are still some rules and conventions (however loose they may be) that you want to be aware of. Let’s iron out the details before you manage to be the guy dressed too casually for the beach wedding, shall we?
Consider These Beforehand
What’s the Formality Level?
Are you going the classic black tie beach wedding route? Are you donning a silicone wedding band for men and calling it a day? Just because it’s a beach wedding doesn’t mean there’s just one level of formality you can choose. Before we get too far, please note that there is no such thing as a “classic black tie beach wedding,” so please do not put that on your invitations.
Generally, you’re going to be in the range of smart casual – usually on the casual end of that spectrum, even. However, you can up the formality a little bit, maybe to business casual at the most. You also don’t want to lean too heavily into the informality. Don’t get married in a t-shirt, no matter who says it’s fine. Put in a little bit of effort.
Expect that your formality level is going to be dictated by whether or not you’re wearing shorts. If you’re wearing shorts, you’re going smart casual at the most. Pants give you the option to have a relaxed business casual style, which is a perfectly good option as well.
Less Is More
It’s a virtual guarantee that you aren’t wearing a jacket at a beach wedding. Can you? Well, sure, especially if it’s in the early evening. However, the likelihood is still low. You want to go simple on your outfit and err on the side of doing less.
You don’t have to go overboard to pull off a cool look, though. Simple and classic casual looks are perfectly good and don’t need to be overdone or over-accessorized. When in doubt, go with the less busy option.
Call a Tailor
You always want to have a tailor give you a once-over before any formal occasion. The last thing you want is to be the dude in the suit that just does not fit him properly. This is especially true in casual settings, ironically enough. Because you’re in fewer layers and simpler clothes, fit issues are only going to be more obvious. Make friends with a tailor if you haven’t already done so.
Keep It Light
In terms of both color and fabric, you want to stay light. Think whites, tans, light pastel colors. You don’t want dark, heavy colors because they just won’t look right on the beach, nor are they going to be in season.
Linen, light cottons and any sort of technical fabrics are going to work well here. Yes, you can get away with technical fibers because modern tech has given us exciting formalwear options made out of cool anti-sweat space-age materials. Clearly, we don’t understand the science behind it, but we know they look good and wick sweat. Whatever you do, avoid heavy fabrics.
How to Make the Groom Stick Out
This is always on the style mind at a wedding, but especially when the formality is dialed down. When you’re in formal wear, you have plenty of options to make the groom stick out. Usually, he’s in a different-colored tie or vest (or both). You can even pop him in a completely different suit and call it good, though that’s not usually recommended.
When you’re at the beach, you have a little less to work with. Still, you can get a boutonniere or maybe wear a different-colored shirt. In a pinch, a sign that says “groom” will do, but there are probably better options. Having the groomsmen in neutral colors and the groom wearing some pop of a brighter color is always a good choice, so play around with that.
Ideas for Beach Wedding Groom Attire
It’s a beach wedding — you can sort of wear what you want. If you just take the overview we laid out previously, you can just mix and match clothing pieces as you see fit. Seriously, that’s all there is to it.
You aren’t bound by the rules of traditional formalwear here, so just grab the things you like and put them all together. However, we will offer a few suggestions here so you aren’t completely clueless when you start out. We’re very kind like that.
The Completely Casual
No, there’s still no t-shirt here. However, if you’ve got a light-colored polo shirt and some chino shorts, you’re basically good to go. If you want to dial it up, add in some boat shoes or casual loafers. If you want to be even more casual, forgo the shoes altogether and let your toes breathe.
If you’ve seen a photo of a beach wedding, you’ve seen this look. It’s a casual white button-down and tan chinos. The shirt is likely going to be poplin or linen, and the chinos are going to be from J.Crew. We don’t make the rules. That’s just how it seems to be.
All beach wedding looks require a good fit, but this one more than any of them, honestly. It’s a simple look, but it’s just so easy to do incorrectly and look like a chump. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that for you. Go to a tailor, tell him to make you look like an adult and you’re going to flawlessly pull this look off.
You can wear a vest to the beach, and we do not mean a life vest. It would actually seem more odd to show up to a beach wedding in a life vest than a regular vest, but it also might be hilarious. Still, beach formal is something in the neighborhood of a three-piece suit minus the jacket.
Now, before you head off to your closet, callously toss your suit jacket and leave the rest, let’s give you some caution. The beach formal look does not work with the black suit you wore to your grandmother’s funeral. We don’t care how spiffy all the aunts said you looked. We’re sure you looked quite spiffy, but it will not transfer to the beach.
Consider a tan, light gray or maybe a light blue suit here, but nothing darker. Light gray is probably your best option and will be a really versatile thing to have if you’re buying your suit instead of renting it. Keep your shoes on the casual side, and you’re good to go.
The Retired Frat Star
This mostly works if you’re in a scenario where you’re actually wearing a jacket at a beach wedding. It happens occasionally, especially if the rest of the festivities are in a nicer establishment. As long as your jacket and pants are different yet complementary colors, you’re good to go with this one.
If you really want to lean into the “I’ve spent time on a boat” look, go for chino shorts with the jacket instead of pants. They’ll match the boat shoes better, anyway. Now, this isn’t a look we really recommend. We know some people like it, but it’s just not our vibe. However, if it’s what you want the dress code to dictate, have at it.
Pastel colors aren’t just for the spring. You want a white dress shirt and some light blue pants, with bonus points if they’re linen. Get a similarly-colored light blue tie with some texture for added intrigue, and you’re good. Suspenders are a popular choice for this look, though a belt wouldn’t be out of place.
Here to Have Fun
Hawaiian shirt? Yes, please. Not just for Tom Selleck, this is absolutely a look you can pull off. It doesn’t have to be strictly a Hawaiian shirt, of course. Anything colorful and floral will do, as long as it’s casual and offers the vibe that you know when to be serious and when to party.
You can have a lot of fun with the pants or shorts on this one if you choose a secondary color in the shirt and have that as the color of your pants. It takes a bit of a discerning eye to do that well, but we believe in you. If you’re a guy who likes the look of wooden wedding bands, this is the attire for you.
The Tan Suit
This is just the classic tan chinos and white button-down but dialed up in formality. Hey, we don’t usually recommend this level of formality at beach weddings, but it might be your vibe, and we wanted to offer the option.
If you’re going for a suit at the beach, ditch the vest and keep the color light. A tan, two-piece suit is the peak of formality at the beach, so don’t go beyond it. You can skip the tie completely and undo a couple of buttons to keep it a smidge more casual. If you want to wear a tie, a bow tie is going to be more casual and fun than a regular tie, so adjust accordingly.
Look, there’s really no wrong answer when it comes to beach weddings. Be as formal or as relaxed as you like. As long as you wear something you feel good in that fits you well, you’ll look the part.
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