How to Make Sure Your Destination Wedding Guests Dress Appropriately

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Destination Wedding Guest AttireMost destination weddings take place in warm and tropical locales, and as such traditional formal wedding guest attire may not fit the bill.  That said, you don’t want your guests to show up in tank tops and tee-shirts either, mainly because that kind of attire is not ideal when it comes to your wedding pictures.  So there must be some rules on the proper attire, and these guidelines must be communicated to all the attendees.

When to Communicate the Dress Code

The best place to mention the expected dress code is in the wedding invitations themselves.  Although this may sound a bit presumptuous, it’s not. In fact, it’s really helpful because it will make it crystal clear what you require – right upfront so there is no confusion or ambiguity later. 

Of course, you’re not going to be able to mandate the dress code, but you should still provide this guidance because most people will make their best effort to comply with your wishes.

Categories of Destination Wedding Attire (Warm Climates)

The first step to figuring out how you’d like your guests to dress is determining the overall category of attire that you want.  Once you figure out the category, then you can come up with the specifics which will then be communicated to all the guests via the invitations.  In general, assuming your wedding will take place in a tropical or island climate, there are 3 categories of guest attire: semi-formal, island cocktail and beach chic.  As you can probably guess, I’ve written these categories in order from the most formal to the least.

So, “semi-formal” means suits and ties for the guys, and cocktail or evening dresses for the gals (obviously avoid overly long or tea length dresses if the wedding will take place on the sand).  Island cocktail means that the guests can leave the suits and formal dresses at home.  For men, this might mean wearing khaki pants and a polo or button-down shirt.  For the ladies, this might mean lightweight pant suits or sun dresses.  Finally, beach chic means dressy shorts and polo or button-down shirts for the men, and resort attire for the women.


There is no right or wrong with regard to destination wedding guest attire – it really just comes down to what the happy couple wants.  Once this decision has been made, it’s easy to communicate it via the invitations so that everybody is on the same page.  Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be in great shape.  Good luck!

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