What to Wear for a Destination Wedding

Get tips on attire for the bride, groom, and wedding party.

bride and groom on the beach

The Bride 

When choosing your gown, always keep your location and the climate in mind. A tropical locale or beach wedding calls for lighterweight fabrics that pack well and won’t easily wrinkle. Avoid excessive beading and heavyweight fabrics like silk satin or taffeta and opt for breezy wrinkle-resisters such as silk tulle, organza, chiffon, charmeuse, georgette or light laces. You’ll also want to forego a too-long train (not ideal for sandy locales) or a veil length that may blow around in ocean breezes (a longer veil actually has more weight and will be less affected by wind). Ultimately, whatever dress style you select should be comfortable and flatter your figure. Sheaths, mermaids, A-lines, short, cocktail-length dresses and even gowns with layers of sheer ruffles are all appropriate in the right fabrications.

Have fun making a strong style statement with your accessories. A dramatic crystal necklace or earrings will glam up a simple sheath. Or choose tropical hues for your jewelry and wear bright turquoise or coral accents. Your headpiece, whether hair combs, a tiara or fresh flowers in your hair, should complement your gown and personal style. Also, make sure your shoes allow you to walk on sand or uneven ground — a good reason to go for a dressy low-heeled wedge or flat sandal.

Pack your gown well for the flight. Ask your salon or seamstress to pack it to avoid excessive wrinkling. Have them put the gown in a garment bag so you can hand-carry it onto the plane. You should also call the airline in advance and inform them that you’ll be carrying your attire, and once you board the plane ask the flight attendant to hang it in a closet near your seat. And be sure to place any of your precious wedding-day jewelry and accessories into your carry-on as well.

Check out some dreamy destination gowns here!

The Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids

The same advice applies when choosing your attendants’ attire: consider the location, wedding style and weather. Short dresses in lightweight fabrics are ideal as are festive, floral-print styles. Strapless, sleeveless or cap sleeves are good options as are two-piece dresses that offer a variety of different top styles — let each ’maid select her most flattering. And again, low-heeled wedges or flat sandals are best.

destination wedding on beach
Photo Credit: Meg Courtney Photography

The Groom and Groomsmen 

It goes without saying that your guy’s attire should complement yours. If your look is a bit more formal (your reception will be in a ballroom near the beach) then a black, formal tuxedo is suitable. If your gown is more beachy-casual, then he can dress accordingly. Your fiancé should check with his local formalwear store and look into the rental options. There are a number of destination-friendly tuxes in light tan, navy, white and khaki that are available in lightweight fabrics. A dark suit is also a good option or a navy blazer with khaki pants.

The groom’s accessories should also complement your wedding colors. A tone-on-tone shirt and tie combo is a good option and for a less formal look, a necktie rather than bow tie is best. Of course, if you’re tying the knot on a beach, some guys like to go super casual and wear white linen shirts over khakis or tropical print shirts over white linen trousers. Whatever the choice, your fiancé and his wedding party should look well groomed and wear attire that’s suitable for your wedding style and environment. Also, aside from the wedding outfit, the groom should always pack at least one pair of dress pants as most resort restaurants have dress codes.

Just be sure your groom and his groomsmen rent their tuxes beforehand as there’s no guarantee they can do so at the location. And, as he’ll be staying on or going elsewhere with you for the honeymoon, he should ask a friend or relative to return the tux to the rental store back home to avoid late fees.