What to Wear to a Wedding Reception for a Destination Wedding

What to Wear to a Wedding Reception for a Destination Wedding

You’re going to a destination wedding? Wonderful! Destination weddings have increased in popularity, and there are all kinds of new trends. Let’s look at what to wear to a wedding reception for a destination wedding.

What Is the Destination?

When planning what to wear to a destination wedding, start with the destination, including the weather you are likely to encounter and the wedding reception venue. A wedding reception held on the beach in Jamaica will bring up some obvious suggestions as to what to wear—perhaps a gorgeous yet casual maxi dress and sandals—definitely skip heels as they won’t work in sand. A wedding reception at a hotel in Paris is likely to be more formal, so a special occasion dress and heels would be in order.

A new trend in destination weddings is destination weddings, destination weddings held in the United States but at a fun vacation destination. This also opens up a wide range of weather and venues. What about a riverfront wedding in Idaho Springs, Colorado? This Rocky Mountain hideaway boasts gorgeous views and possible accommodations that will likely require warm clothes for traveling and perhaps more formal dresses and men’s suits for the reception. The famous Hay Adams Hotel in Washington D.C. is another hot spot for destination weddings. A wedding reception there is likely to be sophisticated and formal to match the locale. When in doubt, ask the wedding couple about their destination. Chances are they will love to tell you about the perfect wedding they are planning!

How Many People Will Be at the Wedding?

The number of people who will be at the wedding will dictate what type of reception (and, therefore, what type of reception attire) will be appropriate. Intimate weddings with 12 people are likely less formal than affairs with 300 guests. Micro weddings are usually considered weddings with 50 people or fewer. This can be a popular size for destination weddings, as it can accommodate both immediate families and close friends of the wedding couple (and be easier to get everyone there and back, book blocks of hotel rooms, etc.). Always ask how many people will be at the wedding. It will give you fun information about the activities likely to take place and how you will want to pack for the reception and other social events. If there will be a pool at the hotel, don’t forget to pack a women’s swimsuit. You’ll want to be able to relax from all of the festivities and get a little exercise, too.

How Casual Is Casual?

Casual is in the eye of the beholder—or in this case, in the opinion not only of the couple planning the wedding but also of their family members who will be there. This is especially true for intergenerational wedding receptions. Interestingly, this can go both ways. Although the stereotype is the older generation will be more conservative and formal, perhaps the mother or grandmother of the bride or groom was married barefoot on a beach in a gorgeous hippie dress while the current wedding couple prefers things to be more sophisticated. If you are given terms like “casual” or “smart casual,” ask someone who will be at the reception and what they plan to wear.

How Dressy Is Dressy?

Formal is also a tricky term. Does formal mean a traditional business suit for men? For an evening wedding, one might expect a tuxedo, but is it black tie or white tie? Women’s formal clothing tends to be a bit harder to pin down, but you will want to get a feel for what type of cocktail dress or pants suit will be appropriate and make you look and feel great. Don’t depend upon an engraved invitation or a formal-looking evite to give you the information that you need. When in doubt, ask.

Pragmatic Packing

When packing for a destination wedding, keep two main objectives in mind—having the appropriate clothing with you for the wedding reception and being comfortable all the way there and back. If possible, carry the entire outfit you will be wearing to the wedding reception (dress, suit, shoes, belt, jewelry, etc.) in your carry-on. If this is not possible, plan a bit of “lost luggage time” into your travel schedule if you can. Chances are everything will arrive with you just fine, but if things go awry, you don’t want to be stuck without an appropriate outfit to wear.

Pack your favorite items in your backpack like a good book, your tablet and an extra charger, and an eye mask for a quick cat nap on the plane. Always bring a cardigan or hoodie with you to keep comfy in case of a chill. If you are driving instead of flying, you will have more flexibility but don’t overpack. It will just be more to carry.

With a bit of planning and by asking the right questions, you will have a fabulous time and look and feel great at the destination wedding reception. Enjoy the celebration!


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