Wedding Dresses and Accessories

Wedding Gowns and Jewelry Made for Sun, Sand and Surf

As more brides take off to sunny destinations, more wedding designers take off heavy fabric and baubles. You won't have to look far for great destination dresses that are as light and airy as your tropical setting, and you have dozens of fresh and feathery accessory options to top off your look. Although beach weddings will have some things in common, consider your particular venue and atmosphere for a destination wedding ensemble that's perfectly suited to your celebration.

Dresses Destined for Paradise

Wedding Dresses and Accessories

Although you never know what the weather will bring, most ocean-side destinations offer a good mix of sun, heat and wind. Luckily, most destination dresses are designed with the beach in mind, but you'll have to decide which details are right for you on your big day:

  • Fabric. Chiffon, tulle, organza and silk are best for warm, humid weather. Satin is too heavy, and too many layers of skirts or wraps around the bodice can be stifling. If you're set on a long gown with lots of layers, opt for a design that allows some of the skirt to be removed for the reception so you won't drag your lovely dress through the sand.
  • Length. A mini or tea-length dress is perfect for a sandy setting and splashing waves, but these can be a bit less formal than the typical floor length dress. An easy way to glam up a more casual dress is with a soft overlay of tulle or chiffon, or an ornate appliqué on the hem or bodice. If you have your heart set on full-length, opt for a very small train or make sure your elegant chapel train is detachable (a load of extra fabric is sure to get in the way).
  • Neckline. Strapless is a great style for a warm-weather wedding, but the tropical sun can be vicious, and with all of the excitement and distraction, you might forget to cover up before it's too late. On the other hand, a high neck, longer sleeves or matching bolero can be too warm to wear through the day. Cap sleeves are charming alternatives, or find a featherweight pashmina to throw around your shoulders when the sun is too much to bear.

Once you have the basic elements sorted, you'll need the perfect final touch. Choose elements that express your personality, but for seaside nuptials, limit the sparkle. A dress with flashy embellishments could compete with the glistening waves, and heavy ornaments can weigh down your flowing fabric. While big appliqués can constrict, a lacey sash, a small silver pin, or a touch of bead work is a lovely accent to dress up a simple dress design without compromising your delicate style.

Natural Choices for Beach Wedding Accessories

Gold and diamonds are classically elegant, but they can look out of place in an unconventional setting. More natural gems like pearls and opals are in line with the spirit of the sea and sand, and these will easily compliment a light, white wedding dress. Wedding pearl jewelry can be done in different ways, from a single delicate strand to clusters of different sizes and colors. A lariat is an elegant choice, and a pair of short strands that settle on your collarbone will lend a vintage vibe. Different sizes and shapes of pearls can dramatically alter the effect, so you may need to try a few styles before you find the right fit.

Shoes for Sandy Surroundings

A beach wedding is perfect for brides who like uncomplicated footwear. There's no need to hobble in heels, and simple sandals will never be too casual. In fact, you can eliminate footwear altogether and just go barefoot! If you do decide to incorporate some sort of shoe into your beach-worthy wedding outfit, think about comfort, movement and clever ways to personalize:

  • Make your mark. Flips flops are go-to beach accessories for everyone, but they can be easily specialized for a wedding. A tulle flower, silky bow or glamorous shoe clip will doll up your sandals in seconds. For a cute impression, have your wedding date and a little message imprinted into the soles of the flip flops – you'll leave a little message in the sand with every step you take.
  • Accessorize with anklets. Whether you wear them with simple sandals or without, pretty jewelry for your feet is a fantastic way to dress up your beach bridal outfit. A simple silver chain can add just the right amount of shine, or add a few beads, crystals or pearls from the ankle to the toe for a stunning effect.
  • Go neutral. If wedding-specific shoes seem wasteful or impractical, opt for a style that you're sure to wear again. Plain white open-toe shoes are staples for any summer wardrobe, but if you want something truly versatile, opt for detachable features. There are a few creative companies that produce solid, neutral soles and a selection of different fabric or ribbons that clip, tie, or snap on to make the body of the shoes.

Before you settle on a dress and accessories, consider how easy they'll be to transport. A voluminous gown probably won't squish into a suitcase, and you could wind up paying an extra baggage fee. Small accessories and wrinkle-free fabrics are your best bet for a wedding outfit that looks as good on the beach as it did at home.