Destination Wedding Survival Kit: The Complete Guide for Guests

Destination weddings: picture sweeping coastlines, crystal clear waters, scenic venues, diverse cuisine scenes, and the opportunity to witness the joining of two lives. Sounds exciting, right?

Not to dampen your excitement, but the rules for attending a wedding change significantly when driving out of town or traveling out of the country. Moreover, there are more considerations and preparations for far-flung weddings than local ceremonies.

The guide below provides insights and tips to ensure a smooth journey and a good time at a destination wedding. From planning your travel and accommodation to the do’s and don’ts of attending destination weddings, we explore everything you need to know as a guest at a destination wedding.

Flights and Accommodation

You must plan your travel arrangements as a guest at a destination wedding. Below, we provide information on when and how to book flights and accommodation, what to do if the hotel the couple chooses is out of your budget, and how long destination weddings last.

Booking Flights

When booking your flight for a destination wedding, time is of the essence. It would be best to start looking into flights when you receive the wedding invitation or the save-the-date. Destination wedding locations can become busy quickly, especially during peak seasons. Therefore, booking your flight as early as possible can help you find the most competitive fares and ensure availability.   

Booking Accommodation

Have the couple chosen a hotel, but no accommodation is booked for you? For this case, you may consider booking. However, if the hotel is beyond your budget and you can’t afford the accommodation, you can explore other options and look for accommodations nearby, such as bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, or resorts. You can also share a vacation rental with a fellow attendee to cut costs.

Duration of Destination Weddings

Destination weddings usually last several days. The exact duration varies, but you can expect to spend three nights and four days at a destination wedding. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Day One: Rehearsal Welcome Party
  • Day Two: Wedding Day
  • Day Three: Farewell Brunch (The couple has brunch with the guests and says goodbye to some guests).
  • Day Four: Goodbye (You can fly out on the night of day three or the morning of day four).

Destination Wedding Attire

Before attending a destination wedding, you must know what to wear and what not to wear. The section below provides information on proper wedding attire and attire you should avoid.

What To Wear for an Island Wedding

Wear light fabrics like linen and tulle or breathable fabrics like cotton and lace. You can opt for a swing or airy maxi dress in floral patterns or warm colors if you are a female guest. If you are a male guest, you can opt for a lightweight suit in pastel shades of blue, purple, or yellow or pair a dress shirt with linen trousers. Remember to accessorize with sunglasses, stylish hats, and comfortable beach footwear.

What To Wear for a Beach Wedding

If you are a female guest, you can wear a flowy sundress or a lightweight jumpsuit in soft prints or subtle patterns. If you are a male guest, you can wear a relaxed suit or pair linen pants with a lightweight button-down shirt. Wear sand-friendly footwear like wedges and sandals for women and loafers and canvas for men.

The Don’ts of Destination Weddings Attire

You should avoid certain attire choices as a guest at a destination wedding. Avoid faux pas by steering clear of white attire since white is traditionally reserved for the bride. Avoid wearing casual or revealing outfits, as these can attract negative attention or distract the bride and groom. Additionally, steer clear of overly flashy accessories. A wedding is not the place to make a bold fashion statement! 

Destination Wedding Packing List

Before leaving home and driving or flying to a destination wedding, you should review your packing list to ensure you have all the items you need during your trip and your stay at the hotel.

What To Pack for Destination Weddings

When packing for a destination wedding, ensure the following items are on your packing list:

  • Identification Documents: Carry your driver’s license, national ID, passport, and other identification documents you may need for travel.
  • Plane Tickets and Boarding Passes: Carry a separate bag where you can keep and easily access your plane ticket and boarding pass.
  • Credit Cards: Carry your credit card(s) because credit cards are accepted in more places overseas than debit cards and cash. 
  • Prescription Medicines: Pack prescription medication in carry-on luggage, and don’t forget a copy of the prescriptions.
  • Wedding Day Clothes: Do not forget to pack the clothes you plan to wear for the wedding ceremony.
  • Change of Clothing: When you relax by the beach or tour the destination, pack casual attire like shirts, jeans, shorts, sneakers, and flip-flops.
  • Personal Essentials: Pack toiletries, such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and soap. Also, pack hygiene items like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
  • Sun Protection: Remember to pack quality sunscreen, sunglasses with polarized lenses, and a hat, cap, or fedora to stay safe from UVA and UVB sunlight
  • Wedding Gift: If you bring the couple a gift, wrap it well to prevent damage or breakage during travel.

Try to pack as light as you can to avoid excess baggage costs.

What To Consider Before Travelling

Before traveling for a destination wedding, consider the following factors:

What Kind Of ID Is Required?

Before you leave on your journey to the country or state where the destination wedding will be held, find out what kind of ID they require so you can meet all the identification requirements for the destination and avoid run-ins with the law.

What Is the Weather?

You cannot predict the weather, but you can prepare for it. Check the weather forecast to determine the expected weather conditions at the wedding location so that appropriate clothing can be packed.

How Long Will You Stay?

Destination wedding celebrations usually last for around three to four days. But the group may decide to stay longer. This is why you need to know how long you will stay. This helps you pack accordingly and determine how much money you will need.  

Are You Invited To A Special Event?

If you are attending any special events apart from the wedding, ensure to plan for them. 

Will You Be Able To Use Your Phone In Another Country?

If you want to use your phone abroad, contact your mobile carrier to learn about their international coverage. If the charges are too high, consider getting a local SIM card or purchasing an international data plan.

Do’s and Don’ts: Etiquette Tips

Follow these etiquette tips to ensure a respectful experience for yourself and the couple.

Respond Soon

After receiving the wedding invitation, RSVP promptly. The couple needs to notify the wedding planner, venue, and caterer about the final headcount, which is necessary for planning purposes.

Don’t Invite Anyone without Permission

If your wedding invitation does not include a plus-one, you should not invite anyone without permission or show up with an uninvited guest. It is important to respect the couple’s guest list and who they choose to share this intimate moment with.

Be Respectful of the Couple’s Requirements

Comply with all the requirements and follow the couple’s guidelines regarding itineraries or dress codes. By respecting the couple’s requirements, you demonstrate respect and support for their big day.

Be on Time

It is essential to be punctual when attending a destination wedding. Arrive on time or a few minutes earlier for receptions, ceremonies, or other activities included in the wedding festivities. This way, you won’t miss critical moments or interrupt important proceedings. 

Know Your Limits

You are here to enjoy the wedding celebration, but remember to do so responsibly. Control your alcohol intake, as this allows you to remain respectful of the couple and other guests even when you are having fun. If you feel buzzed, switch to water, grab food, and lie on a sun lounger.

Send a Gift if You Cannot Attend the Event

If you cannot attend the wedding due to an unavoidable circumstance, sending a gift from the registry is customary. Doing so shows that you acknowledge their big day and wish them well in their new chapter.

Destination Wedding Guide For Guests

Destination weddings offer a memorable and fun experience for both the couple and the guests. However, the fun starts with ensuring you get a smooth journey, a comfortable stay in the accommodation of your choice, and an enjoyable time at the wedding. Now that you know what to do, make new memories and enjoy extraordinary places and moments! Cheers to celebrating love in far-flung locations.

Photo Credit: [@Rawpixel/DepositPhotos]


Destination Wedding Survival Kit: The Complete Guide for Guests
Isabelle Marinier

Isabelle is an associate editor and content writer. She is a lifelong learner who is always eager to try new things. Isabelle combines her skills and experience to transform lifestyle, fashion, and travel ideals into practical reality and relevant information.