Beach Casual Wedding?/Formal next week.


Active Member
husband's cousin is getting married in Sept., here in the Northeast. September is a weird month for weather....can be brutally hot or have a really cool day. We just got the invite. I get the impression it's at a beach house. The invite said "Beach Casual". So What the heck am I supposed to wear? Up here, most weddings are really dressy, so this is unusual.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, my cousin is getting married the following weekend at this really ridiculously fancy and expensive place and the dress is formal. husband has to rent a tux. I'm kind of annoyed about this.

It's funny, because husband's cousin is well to do and can have a really expensive and crazy wedding without blinking an eye at the checkbook, but yet his is very casual. My cousin, however, is the total opposite. He's 34 and has finally gotten the idea that renting a beach house every summer without having a job is not the way to go. My aunt and uncle bought him a business and are paying for a good part of this really ridicuously expensive wedding and he and his fiance don't blink an eye at booking a place that is way out of their league and then expect everyone to go formal.


New Member
Beach casual - wear a strappy sundress or maybe an outfit with capris. I would wear sandals for sure. Go with it and be comfortable. They probably don't want the guests to worry about what to wear. They probably want everyone to come and enjoy their special day with them. No production, just a relaxing, good time.


Well-Known Member
I would suggest a sleeveless sheath-type dress that you can add a wrap, shrug, or light sweater to if needed. September is wierd here too. It can be in the 90's or the 70's - you just never know. You can wear a pair of cute wedges or sandles.



(the future) MRS. GERE
Beach casual? Like the others suggested, I'd get one of those adorable sundresses they are selling this year and a mini-sweater or shrug to have available if it gets chilly (and it probably will since you will be on the coast). On my feet?---a pair of the fun flip flops that are sold all over around here. Some are quite pretty!



Former desparate mom
Loth, we have rented our house for a few beach weddings. I'm not sure what the allure is because it's breezy for a veil(usually), you can't wear heels and sand is everywhere. I always suggest an alternative to a service in the sand since it rains often in the summer on the shore where we are. The smarter of the couples have done it on the deck at sunset. Still pretty hot and humid in my book but what do I know?

Beach casual is usually light fabrics, pastel colored or tropical. Sandals,sun dresses or resort wear type clothing. Men in open colored shirts with walking/dress shorts or khaki slacks. Casual isn't bathing suits and cover ups on our beach weddings. I've seen some beautifully put together beach weddings. Very classy and very meaningful to the couple.

Excessively flamboyent weddings really annoy me. I think they are almost always about the parents and not the couple. I hope my future d-i-l's have enough common sense to want to work towards a marriage and not a wedding. Sorry, it's a pet peeve. That much energy should be put into learning how to build a foundation for a stable married life.


Well-Known Member
I'm kind of ignorant on these things, but does a "formal" wedding mean that the guests have to dress in formal attire too? Sorry, but I'd be sending my "Regrets" for that one, if that's what they have in mind! That's a real imposition on the guests and could be quite costly. Very ostentatious!

And who would really want to see all their friends and relatives showing up at their wedding looking like it's Prom Night at the high school! Are tiaras mandatory or optional?


Well-Known Member
I agree with the sundress/short sweater.

We've been invited to a dressy casual bar mitzva at our local zoo next month and I think I've decided on a pair of black capris and a halter top with black gem trimmed sandals.

Then over Labor Day we are going to my nephews wedding at a boat's a barbeque.

Both events sound so interesting to me.



Active Member
The beach wedding - wear a pedicure and a smile.

Seriously, though - be prepared to carry your footwear, so make sure your feet look good. You can get those cute little bead things for your feet - a small loop slips over your middle toe and the larger bit goes round your heel. Nothing else to them, just jewellery for the top of your feet. I've made a few, with shells or beads and using that stretchy clear elastic yarn you can buy in spools.

The formal wedding - haven't been to one of those for a while, unless it's specified "white tie" I'd be maybe renting a suit, not a tuxedo. Or even check into costs and buy a suit - sometimes it's almost the same price (at least for us) and you've then got a suit in the wardrobe for a later (not so formal) occasion. Such as the divorce, maybe...?

"White tie" would mean tuxedos, tiaras and extreme formality; "black tie" means a two-piece suit is fine (no vest needed, but they're not expensive to add to the ensemble) with either a standard tie or bow-tie, black of course. For a touch of formality you don't wear one of those 'cheating' ties on an elastic band, you use a REAL tie (especially bow tie) because a real one looks so much more authentic, especially if it's not quite perfectly tied. A classic piece of snobbery within anyone's budget, because you can make it yourself really cheaply. Cheap to buy, also.
A formal wedding may not mean extreme formality of clothing; more possibly, it means a sit-down meal with the usual protocol of speeches in strict order according to all the wedding etiquette books; the photographer taking roll after roll of posed, unrealistic photos while the bride's cheeks go into spasm; a session of formal dancing (the bridal waltz, where the bridal couple take the floor first, followed by the bride's parents, then the groom's parents, then the wedding party, then the other guests (often bride's family first then groom's family). There is a formal cutting of the cake and other cute new formalities are creeping in. At a niece's wedding there was a table with two lit candles. The bride & groom each picked up their one white, lit candle and use them together to light one tall coloured candle, to signify their new life together. They then snuffed the two white candles to signify the end of their old, single lives.
A friend leaned over to the father of the bride and said, "What a lovely thing to do! Where did you get the idea for that?" perhaps thinking the custom was from the central European heritage.
"I got it from Survivor," he replied.

Another family wedding we went to, which the whole family now wants to forget, it was so awful - my brother's son was marrying the (regional) city socialite of the year. Her uncle the archbishop officiated; the reception was held at the seaside 'room with a view' (and it was such a grey day you couldn't see a thing, except the pounding surf eroding the beach - prophetic). My brother had said that husband & I were invited, but not the kids. He said none of the other kids (of our brothers & sisters) were coming either, except for maybe one or two. We got there, hotel room booked (too far away from where we live) to find that our kids were the only ones not invited. Hmm... We took our kids to the church bit (plenty of room there) and made sure they dressed up, then back at the hotel left them with easy child & BF1 babysitting in front of cable TV while we went downstairs to the reception. easy child by this stage was really miffed at being excluded, when all her other cousins were there (we'd by this stage seen them at the church).
The reception was formal in dress only. The usual speeches with careful order of who says what, to whom and why was simply not followed. When the guests were mingling, I could clearly see a gap in the room, between the groom's side of the family (ours) and the bride's.
I did what no sensible politician ever does - I crossed the floor. I tried to make conversation with the bride's family, only to receive a "What ARE you?" type of glare, then backs were turned again. I'd never met these people before and hopefully never will again.

Next morning we went down to breakfast, taking the kids with us. The room of the night before was now the breakfast room. Very little was left of the beach outside the window. The bride & groom were there at breakfast also; easy child & BF1 went over to congratulate them. Her cousin the groom then asked, "Where were you last night? I didn't see you at the reception...?"
"We were upstairs minding the younger ones. You see, we weren't invited," easy child politely but pointedly replied.

Formal wedding in regional city - cathedral wedding and reception in the BEST hotel. Cost - undoubtedly excessive.
Cost to them for inviting two of us - unknown, probably $50 total.
Cost of wedding present from us - $100
Cost of hotel accommodation for all six of us - $350
Cost of fuel to get there, plus extra meals - another $100.

But the look on the bride & groom's face when easy child told them why she had been missing from the crowd of supposedly not invited cousins - PRICELESS!

And my brother has not been allowed to forget the shabby trick he played on me & husband (a lot more to the story - he's had his knuckles well and truly rapped, and not by me, so I feel virtuous).

by the way, that marriage lasted five months. And knowing we never need to deal with members of that family again - also priceless.

With hindsight, we would have been happier not going to the wedding. It was really a very unhappy event in so many ways.

So check out tuxedo prices, think about how close you are to these people and make your decision. Sometimes it's fun to have an excuse to dress up especially if you enjoy being with these people. Other times you know it's going to be tedious and unpleasant and you don't want to have spent too much money on unnecessary frills into the bargain.

I vote for the beach - flowing muslin or light silk (but something that will take sitting on the sand) in a lovely floral or jewel colour, with perfectly manicured feet/hands and footwear made to be carried, not worn. Silk flowers in your hair - you can swim in them and they still look good. A handy towel, because at some stage, you WILL dip your toe in and you WILL get wetter than you intended. But you WILL have loads of fun, from the sound of it.
Then use the memory of the fun, informal wedding to get you through the formal one - if you go.



Active Member
Thanks Marg. I have to agree, that the beach wedding is going to be more fun.

The invite specifically said "formal attire" so I'm assuming that means tux. husband has a few suits. I'll call my aunt and ask, just to be sure. I am close with my aunt. This is the only relative from my mother's side of the family that I have anything to do with, so I feel it's important to go. If not for that, I'd send my regrets.

I will probably go with some type of sundress or I have a nice pair of black Capris that I can dress up or down, so perhaps I'll save some money there and just get a cute top to go with them. I have some lovely sandals. As far as the little thongs....can't do anything between my toes....makes them get hives. I know....weird. I love the look of those cute thongs with the beads and stuff, but I just can't wear them.

I like a few of those dresses that you listed TM. Thanks! I'll look into that a little further.


Well-Known Member

I havent been to many beach weddings but having lived in Myrtle Beach I have seen many. What others have said about the sun dresses is spot on. Men wear khaki's or walking shorts.

I went to one pretty formal wedding which was my step-sister's wedding. She had it in the early evening so it was a candlelight service. I wore a mid-calf length formal gown. husband didnt go with me so we didnt have to rent him a tux. When we went to Jamies formal ball we rented him a suit tux which I think is a good compromise for a formal occasion because you dont look like you are in the wedding party but you are dressed up.


Active Member
A thought, also - when easy child's school formal came round (the equivalent for us of the final year graduation ball) she went against tradition and was the only girl in her school to wear a short cocktail dress instead of the usual ballgown style. It was like wearing a short, flippy, strappy dress to the Oscars. It was a black dress which she teamed with some absolutely amazing bright red velvet heels, and her wonderful dancer's legs. She still fitted in despite being unique and looked marvellous.

easy child 2/difficult child 2 is following in her shoes, so to speak, although she's got her own style and her own shoes. She's waiting for the next formal family wedding to wear her latest pair of shoes - a thin strip of red leather covered with diamantes, and on top of the tallest, thinnest heels imaginable. Also dancer's legs.

So it's often OK to break the rules, but as my favourite author says - "If you're going to break the rules, make sure you break 'em good and hard."