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Destination Weddings and You

Wedding Week 2008: Click for Special Report

Been invited to a destination wedding? After sending in your response card, ponying up for the airfare and hotel, picking out your outfit and selecting a gift, all you have to do is show up, right?

Well, as frequently as weddings and travel go together these days, taking a trip to see loved one take the plunge is different from the usual vacation, especially where flying's concerned. Two notes on packing:

THE WEDDING-DAY OUTFIT. First of all, congratulations on decoding dress codes ('s guide can help if you get flummoxed.)

No bride in her right mind would put her wedding dress in checked luggage. (I remember seeing a bride carrying a poofy white gown down the aisle on a flight to South Africa.) But guests might not be so cautious with their own attire, with potentially disastrous results. If your bag gets waylaid or lost, you'll either have to scramble to find a tux shop in Cozumel, or you're stuck wearing the clothes on your back. My advice: Sacrifice your usual pile of magazines and cozy blanket to make room for your wedding-day outfit in your carry-on.

No matter how you transport your clothes, they're going to get a few wrinkles, but you can ward some of them off by stuffing tissue paper in jacket sleeves, pant legs and dresses and placing the ensembles in dry-cleaning bags.(Don't forget the rehearsal dinner outfit, too!) Newspaper bags make great shoe sleeves, and accessories can go in zip baggies taped inside the dry-cleaning bags. Then dig out your old garment bag and either use it as your carry-on or, better yet, tuck the entire outfit, garment bag and all, in your carry-on bag. After all that, you may even have room for a novel and an iPod. What you won't have room for, though, is a gift, which brings me to...

THE GIFT. Destination weddings are usually far from the couple's home, and getting gifts off that private island and back to Iowa would be a headache. Instead, send your gift to the couple's home, either before or after the wedding. (Most stores that have wedding registries will ship gifts for you.) If you're flying internationally and planning to give cash, make sure you're not exceeding the Customs cutoff, though you should be fine - most countries allow you to bring up to $10,000 or its local currency equivalent without having to declare it to Customs. If you do plan to pack a present in your luggage remember not to wrap it till you land; wrapped bundles can look awfully suspicious to luggage screeners.

Those are just a couple of tips. Who among you has more wedding travel advice?

By Christina Talcott |  September 10, 2008; 10:49 AM ET  | Category:  Christina Talcott , Destination Weddings , Wedding Travel
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

The best advice I can give is to the bride, groom or whoever is throwing the wedding:

Make it as easy as possible for those close to attend, up to and including paying for airfare and hotel.

Do you really want to exclude those that you care about and who care for you just because they can't swing a trip to Hawaii/Mexico/Europe.

Posted by: DC | September 10, 2008 2:08 PM

My comment regards wedding gift giving.

According to many etiquette mavens, guests should not bring their gifts to the wedding itself, regardless of location. It is considered inconvenient to the couple, and it risks being lost, stolen, or misidentified.

Gifts should be sent (or given) before or after the festivities.

Posted by: Alexandria | September 10, 2008 2:17 PM

my advice is to save yourself from the problems of traveling to a destination wedding by simply declining the invitation. maybe if enough people did that, this self-centered trend would die a well-deserved death.

Posted by: jen | September 10, 2008 2:33 PM


Posted by: SusanNConn | September 10, 2008 2:42 PM

God forbid a bride and groom be self-centered about their own wedding!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 3:42 PM

just send a nice gift and skip the trip. It's never much fun, and you'll always resent the money you spend.

Posted by: babsy1 | September 10, 2008 3:59 PM

Better yet - go get married abroad wherever you please, then have a big party for friends and family to celebrate after you get home.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 10, 2008 4:01 PM

I was in a long line of disgruntled people in New York who had been bumped off a transatlantic flight. Faced with staying all night in the airport, most were desperate to get those few seats left on another airline as they stepped up to the desk to argue. But one young lady simply said "I have to be at a wedding tomorrow in India", and after a shy moment "and, uhm, I'm the bride". The entire line bundled together their available flights to get her there on time. We stayed all night in the airport.

Posted by: anonymous | September 10, 2008 4:59 PM

My fiance and I simply didn't want a big wedding or a big party for our large family. We have chosen and paid for everything and would simply like our immediate family and very close friends to join us. Nothing self centered about that.

Posted by: Anon. | September 10, 2008 5:09 PM

@ anonymous | September 10, 2008 4:59 PM

I think you were hoodwinked (especially if it were a Hindu wedding). Wedding festivities start days ahead of time and the night before is a big deal with the mehndi, etc. Besides, the travel time to India makes her situation highly improbable.

Posted by: Bride's unlikely story | September 10, 2008 5:16 PM

We have been to / are going to six weddings this year, and every single one of them has required a flight or two. (A few of them were true "destination weddings", but when you've got friends who are scattered around the country or the world, or whose families are located all over, your "destination" may be their hometown.) Never never never check your bags, and if you're female, find a good all-purpose non-wrinkling cocktail dress or two that you won't have to worry about. And never take gifts with you - it's not only a pain for you, but it's also just too much of a pain for the couple to keep track of them and get them home afterwards.

Also, if you're the guests, try to be a bit self-reliant on booking your own travel arrangements, ground transport, etc. Most couples will now have lots of travel info on their websites, and when they are in their final pre-wedding crunch, they do not need to be fielding questions about which hotel you should stay at or whether you should rent a car or take a shuttle from the airport.

If you're the couple, for heaven's sake, give yourselves time to get there. Our own wedding was a Saturday "destination wedding" to where my family lives by Tahoe. The big old white garment bag went on the plane with me on Thurs. a.m., and the flight attendants couldn't have been sweeter. Husband flew out later that day, had a seven-hour delay flying Jet Blue, and didn't get to the wedding site until dawn on the rehearsal day. Poor guy has lots of good memories of playing cards and drinking in the airport with many good friends who were booked on the same flight, but he was exhausted all weekend.

Posted by: adub | September 10, 2008 5:52 PM

Any wedding is going to be a "destination wedding" for all out-of-town guests. Personally, I'd rather spend $$ for airfare and lodging at an exotic location than at an ordinary US city.

My advice for those planning a true "destination wedding," try to pick a place where all the locations are close together and where guests won't have to rent a car. There's nothing more frustrating with getting lost in a foreign city in an expensive rental car.

Posted by: Karen | September 10, 2008 7:03 PM

Sorry destination weddings are self centered. Not everyone wants to drop serious bucks to go to some island or Mexico or wherever to see you get married.
They would much rather spend a night or two at a Hampton Inn

A destination wedding is one held in the islands, MX or some other locale where the neither the bride, groom or their families reside.

Sorry I dont go to Hawaii, Hilton Head, The Bahammas or Jamaica etc. If I am going there with my wife I dont want the hassle and stress of your wedding and I dont want to stay at Sandals.

Last destination wedding we were invited to was at Sandals Ocho Rios. It was my wife's favorite cousin. We were going to be Jamaica that same week but were staying at Goldeneye. Dress was shorts and nice shirt for guys and a sun dress for the ladies.

Staff at Goldeneye was great setting up the ride to the wedding. Sandals Ocho Rios is a dump compared to Goldeneye and the food was awful.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 7:20 AM

Are destination weddings so offensive because they are mainly held at big-box resorts? What about if they were held in a place special to the couple that was reasonably easy to get to?

To generally admonish destination weddings is rather near-sighted. As a couple in our 30s, we paid for our own wedding and (Shock! Horror!) wanted to do something that suited us and would be fun for us. I couldn't picture throwing ourselves a wedding where we live (where most people would have had to travel to anyway) and be miserable just to pleasure our guests.

Weddings thrown by the couple are for the guests if you can't humor the couple/afford it/don't like to travel/be a good sport...then DECLINE the invitation. Most brides and grooms that have destination weddings don't expect the "usual suspects" at a local wedding to attend anyway.

Posted by: Penguin | September 11, 2008 8:22 AM

Anonymous -
Did it ever occur to you that we decide on having destination weddings precisely so you won't go?
Specifically, in instances where the couple wants a small wedding, but has a large extended family, it's often a much better option for them to invite (and potentially pay for the travel expenses of) a few very close friends/family so they can enjoy a small and memorable ceremony.

Posted by: Logic, AL | September 11, 2008 12:03 PM

So why not get married in the town you life in now? Not some all inclusive resort in Cancun, Jamaica or the Bahammas. I am damn impressed you paid for the wedding yourself. BFD. We decided to get married here in rural VA where my wife was stationed. We got married in our Catholic church and polled family and friends for the reception. We had the reception on our farm and food was all local. We did seriously consider having the reception at the Inn. Organic prime lamb and organic dry aged prime beef, fresh scallops and shrimp local produce and wine. My friends and I did the cooking. Instead of gifts friends and family made donations to various dog rescues.

Most destination weddings are for the couple to show off either their economic standing or their parents. Who cares.

I could have easily dropped $100+k and flown everyone to some exclusive resort in the BVI.

BTW my lovely wife vetoed my idea for the reception a couple big bites or something out of the microwave at the local 7-11 and a 6 pack of RWB.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 6:49 PM

Wow, Anonymous, I'm SO glad I'm not your wife, as she has to listen to you brag (about money you don't have) and put down other people who chose different weddings than the one you've chosen for yourself for the rest of her LIFE. UGH! That woman needs a drink, I'm sure!
I am having a small destination wedding in Jamaica at a small boutique hotel 50 rooms and everyone who we invited is more than excited about coming. So, thankfully I have friends and family who care about me and I am able to avoid people like you in my life. We chose Jamaica for 3 reasons... 1) we love the ocean 2) we didn't want to have to pick between 3 locations (my home, his home, where we live now), and 3) we're not religious. To each, his own. I suggest that you consider this or remain miserable for the rest of your life.

Posted by: bride to be | September 12, 2008 9:22 AM

Regarding how to pack to minimize wrinkles, check out, which has a useful diagram of "bundle packing." You won't avoid all WRINKLES, but you will avoid CREASING, which is a far bigger problem with nice clothes.

Posted by: Rich | September 12, 2008 11:46 AM

Destination weddings are great. It's more laid back and nothing like putting your toes in the sand and saying "I do.",

Posted by: Destin beach wedding | September 14, 2008 12:16 PM
Come join us for a destination wedding.

Posted by: Karen | September 14, 2008 12:19 PM

As the mother of the groom and responsible for many aspects of the planning and execution, I suggest a return to the honeymoon and the end of the destination wedding. In our case, it was considerably extra expense - the destination, Nantucket, was difficult and expensive for our guests travel. The argument raised by another comment that all weddings are a destination, does not ring true. In many cases, out of towners are returning to a hometown or at least to an area with which they have familiarity. Other destinations are for honeymoons and vacations!

Posted by: Mother of the Groom | September 17, 2008 11:01 AM

Destination weddings can be fun if the bride and groom have chosen a place that is special to them. A place that they'd like to share with friends and family. The best advice I can give, though, is keep everything simple - from travel arrangements to the clothing required for people to wear to the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself. That way it's lots easier for those as they travel.

Posted by: Mother of a different groom | September 17, 2008 9:19 PM

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