If you're lucky enough to be planning an outfit for a wedding in an exotic location, start thinking outside of the traditional 'wedding outfit' box. Your choice will somewhat depend on the dress code – if the bride and groom have given one – but there's plenty more to consider before you find yourself stepping onto the sand. If it's your own wedding that's taking place on the beach, we've got plenty of ideas too.

Beach wedding guest outfits for women
Pastel pink sleeveless midi dress

Semi-sheer cover-ups may be perfect for seaside lounging but you'll probably feel slightly underdressed attending a wedding ceremony in one, even if the sand's between your toes. Still, keeping cool should be high on your priority list, both for comfort's sake and to avoid sporting a shiny complexion in the wedding photographs. Opt for a flowing dress made from lightweight fabric, in a sleeveless, strapless or halterneck design. You could also choose a graceful high-waisted skirt and cropped top combination, allowing you to mix and match with colour, pattern and texture. If the wedding location is known for breezy beaches, accessorise with a coordinating pashmina.

When it comes to print and pattern, you can't really go wrong with florals, but you might find that everyone else has had the same idea! Rather than wear a multi-hued tropical print, consider keeping your colour palette to one or two tonal shades, adding more colour with your bag, shoes and other accessories. If you want to avoid florals altogether, try romantic pastel shades and textured materials. An intricate lace dress looks stunning on the beach, but do make sure you choose a breathable design.

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Beach wedding guest outfits for men
Cream mens blazer with a ditsy floral shirt

Beach weddings offer men a little more freedom with their outfit choices than a traditional ceremony. A beach wedding suit crafted from a breathable fabric like linen is a great starting point, especially in a paler colour like cream, soft grey or even white. If you're visiting a significantly warmer destination, try a pair of slightly cropped trousers or perhaps even some smart tailored shorts. You could also do without a jacket and simply wear a shirt. Again, linen and paler colours will obviously keep you cooler, so think about using texture to add a little interest, like pintucks and subtle embroidery.

As for shoes, you certainly won't want to wear your finest leather brogues. Go for something soft and easy to slip on and off. Suede loafers or smarter espadrilles are a great choice and can be worn without socks for a stylish beach-appropriate look. A simple pair of sandals or flip-flops will also work, just make sure you go for more refined leather or fabric options rather than plastic versions.

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Beach wedding dresses for the bride
White off the shoulder midi wedding dress

Lots of traditional wedding dress styles will be far too heavy and cumbersome for warm-weather nuptials on the sand. Choosing a lighter design without features like boning and lots of layers does mean you forgo a little structure, but there are still plenty of ways to accentuate your best features. First, consider length – long, fluid dresses look incredibly romantic on the beach, while shorter styles will keep you cooler. Whichever you choose, think about balancing it out with your top half. With a shorter dress you might like to have pretty strap detail around your shoulders, while a full-length style can be paired with a strapless design.

With a perfect length in mind, you can move on to fabric. Silk and chiffon styles are beautifully diaphanous when blown by the sea breeze, while a slightly heavier lace style may give you back some of the structure of a traditional dress while still keeping you cool. As far as footwear goes, it's wise to steer clear of the high heels. Create a truly boho look by going barefoot to make your way down the aisle, then slip into some strappy, heeled sandals when you head inland to enjoy the rest of the occasion. Flat sandals with delicate ankle straps are also a stylish and practical option.

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Beach bridesmaid's dresses
Grey sleeveless v-neck maxi dress

For beach bridesmaids, keeping things cool and comfortable is a must. Consider that your bridesmaids will be fairly active on the big day – whether they're corralling guests or attending to your needs – so will need to wear an outfit that's easy to move in. Shorter or tea-length styles are a smart option, but you could also consider a curved hem or a longer wrap dress. In terms of footwear, beach sandals are the best choice for bridesmaids, as ballerina flats will inevitably collect sand. Choose a style with bejewelled strap detailing to add an element of luxury.

If you want to coordinate your wedding dress and bridesmaid's dresses, an easy way to achieve this is picking the same fabric or a similar length. If you trust your bridesmaids' sense of style and want an eclectic wedding party, simply give them a colour palette and ask them to make their own choices. This can result in a wonderfully bohemian look that celebrates each individual's sense of style, but it does mean that the bride needs to relinquish a little control.

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Mother of the bride outfits
Off the shoulder light pink body con dress

As mother of the bride, you'll want to look fantastic and feel your best on your daughter's big day. A more traditional look, like a smart jacket and skirt, might be little too formal for the beach and will certainly be uncomfortable if your destination is hot. If you'd prefer to keep things fairly formal, choose a linen shift dress with a long-length jacket in a matching shade – a lightweight fabric like lace will stand out and add textural interest. If you plan to cover up a little more, show your style credentials in a wide-legged jumpsuit.

If you've been looking forward to donning a huge hat at your daughter's wedding, the beach is the ideal place. You may want to consider something a little more relaxed than normal, however. Try a smart straw hat with ribbon detailing, perhaps with a slightly looser weave to allow some heat to escape. If you're set on wearing a traditional hair accessory, a fascinator may be the answer.

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Whatever you decide to wear for a beach wedding, it's likely to be a much more relaxed affair than usual. You've got license to ditch the Sunday best in favour of something more exotic, but it'll still be a special occasion. Lightweight fabrics like silk and linen, strapless dresses, and shirts worn without a tie will be popular amongst the whole party, so if you follow suit, remember to put your own spin on things.