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15 Destination Wedding Travel Essentials – Travel + Leisure

10 minutes, 8 seconds Read

Over a decade ago, when my husband proposed, I knew instantly I wanted to have a destination wedding. We both came from small families and had a close set of friends, so luckily we were able to pull it off without a hitch and held our dream wedding in Todos Santos, Mexico. I love attending weddings in general, but there’s an extra air of excitement when dashing off to a cool location to be a part of something special.

Since then, we’ve been to four destination weddings and they’ve all been so different from one another. For one, we attended a small ceremony in Turks and Caicos at the beautiful Seven Stars Resort. When my best friend, got married, over 100 guests gathered in California’s wine country to celebrate. On our third destination wedding, we even got to visit a dude ranch, which was quite an adventure. More recently, we watched my cousin say “I do” in Maui — so I’ve had a lot of practice getting my destination wedding packing list to a science, and you should know that I only fly with a carry-on.

Traveling for someone’s special day? Here is a list of my absolute must-have clothing, footwear, and gear items, along with the best travel accessories to bring to ensure that everything arrives at your destination smoothly.

Zeagoo Two-piece Linen Set

Amazon


Linen is an excellent fabric for warm-weather locations because it’s breathable and lightweight. That’s why I brought this two-piece set to Turks and Caicos; it’s made with a linen-cotton blend, so it doesn’t get as wrinkled as 100-percent linen items would. The top is a drapey, button-front shirt with a roll-tab sleeve and two chest pockets, which can easily be worn on its own with a pair of shorts or a skirt. I’ve also used it as a beach cover-up several times. The full-length pants are loose with a comfortable drawstring waistband, making them great for long travel days. 

PrettyGarden Elegant Mock-neck Cocktail Maxi Dress

Amazon


Let me tell you how excited I am that I discovered this dress. It’s made with a silky satin fabric and is super figure-flattering because of the elastic cinch at the waist. The unique asymmetrical shoulder design creates a look of elegance and accentuates the clavicle. It was such a win that, when I wore this to the rehearsal dinner at the swanky Grace’s Cottage restaurant in Turks and Caicos, I got compliments all night. Still super psyched from that destination wedding, I’m eyeing a couple of other colors already; the dress is offered in 32 colors, from small to 2XL.

Everlane A-line Denim Shorts

Everlane


If you’ve read my tips on how to pack a carry-on or my favorite three outfits to pack, you already know I’m a huge fan of Everlane and the brand’s approach to sustainable fashion and commitment to quality and reasonable prices. I own these shorts in three colors because they fit like a dream. They’re high-rise, which holds you in at all the right places, and they have a 5.5-inch inseam, making them long enough to wear from the beach to a casual lunch. One thing to note about the shorts is that because they’re 100 percent cotton, so they don’t have any stretch. I often paired these with my Current Air Tuscan Citrus Top or this cute pink crop blazer for my friend’s wine country wedding.

Jean Chen Smith


Toms Diana Sandals

Amazon


For beach weddings, practicality and function are key for packing. Many hosts are going to have the ceremony on the sand so everyone can enjoy beautiful ocean views, which means that bringing 4-inch stiletto heels is probably not a good idea. Instead, for the destination weddings I’ve attended, I’ve opted to bring wedges, espadrilles, or flats. By far, the almost-sold-out Alissa slides from Journee are my favorite because the platform was only 1.5 inches, making them a comfortable choice for navigating uneven streets and the boardwalk (remember: you’ll have to take into account where you’re visiting because some of the destinations might not have paved streets). These platform sandals from Toms exude the same comfy elegance, and they’re on sale for $56.  

Furtalk Foldable Sun Straw Hat With UPF 50 

Amazon


This irresistible hat comes in eight colors and is a great purchase for both home and vacation. Made of paper straw with UPF 50+ protection, its wide brim helps to keep the sun out of your eyes. I found this especially useful for walks along the beaches in Turks and Caicos and Maui. It also offered coverage when we went couples’ horseback riding at the dude ranch. The interior sweatband wicks away moisture and provides comfort on hot days. It comes in two sizes, so be sure to measure your head and check the size chart accordingly. Foldable and easy to pack, it will sit easily in your luggage or carry-on bag.

Ciormis Sparkly Metallic Pashmina Shawl Wrap

Amazon


A wrap for chilly nights is a must. This metallic shawl adds a touch of glamor to your outfit for the reception or rehearsal dinner (and comes in handy on chilly flights when you need a blanket). When we were in Maui for my cousin’s wedding at the recently renovated Grand Wailea, I wore this nearly every night and can vouch that it goes with everything. The viscose blend fabric is soft and eco-friendly; you can simply hand wash it in the sink of your hotel room if needed. It is available in 11 colors and, at just $16, you’re going to want more than one.

Jean Chen Smith


Smismivo One-piece Halter Swimsuit

Amazon


Feeling confident in a bathing suit is usually a challenge for most of us. When I was trying to find one to purchase and came upon Smismivo’s one-piece, I couldn’t get over all the positive reviews. I had to try it for myself and I’m so glad I did. The ruched design along the front of the body helps to shape and smooth. Removable pads offer additional support should you need it. Available in a variety of colors, it’s a summer travel essential you’ll want to put at the top of your packing list. The brand also makes several silhouette-enhancing two-piece suits — like this one, which hugs in all the right places.

Paravel Medium Cabana Tote

Amazon


One of my most memorable experiences at the Maui wedding was a 2.5-hour snorkel tour my husband and I did with our friends to see magnificent turtles. Of course, I brought my trusty Paravel Cabana Tote, which held everything I needed for the day’s adventure. I love this Oprah-approved bag so much because it’s compact, but fits a lot. Also, it’s stain-repellent with a water-resistant lining and has several pockets for storing essentials. It’s so reliable that I also use it as a weekender bag when heading out on smaller trips. Removable straps allow you to wear it as a tote or crossbody.

Bsubseach Women’s Kaftan Dress

Amazon


Kaftans are versatile and work well in any situation as a beach cover-up, a dress for dinner, or a casual, just-hanging-out look. I found myself wearing mine on repeat because you can just throw it on and accessorize with a cute bag and a pair of sandals. This Amazon shopper-favorite kaftan is lightweight and comfortable, offered in 20 colors, and is one size fits all. 

BB Rhombus Crossbody Purse

Amazon


I am a huge fan of G’Juan Xavier’s Goddess clutch in pink, so when I spotted a similar version in white, I couldn’t resist. Because I’m a practical shopper, I won’t drop a ton of money on white because I’m afraid it’ll get ruined. The BB Rhombus was still a great score for me and got plenty of use when I traveled for my loved ones’ weddings; I was able to use it day and night, freeing up my luggage for other things. The PU leather is water- and scratch-resistant so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re busy having fun. And, it’s super versatile; the sturdy chain strap can be worn two ways: with a long strap as a crossbody or it can be converted to a shorter double strap to wear over your shoulders.

Jean Chen Smith


Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen 

Amazon


Before I gave the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen a try, I hated putting on SPF because every formula seemed to be thick and sticky. Not this one; I love how weightless it feels against my skin. Now I pack it everywhere I go. It’s also scent- and oil-free to keep it from staining your clothing or belongings. Soothing yet effective ingredients like frankincense and meadowfoam seed keep your skin safe from the sun and hydrated, and it helps extend your wedding day glam with its primer-like formula.

PrettyGarden Floral Maxi Wrap Dress With Ruffle Sleeves and Hem

Amazon


PrettyGarden’s floral wrap dress is perfect for rehearsal dinners because it’s classic and elevated without being too fancy. The ruffled sleeve and hem offer a lighthearted, flirty feel, and the wrap complements any waistline. Available in over 40 colors and prints with a size range from S to 2XL, it also makes for an excellent daytime travel dress because of its easy, bohemian feel. 

Madewell Sidewalk Low Top Sneakers

Nordstrom


Chances are, if you’re a guest of a destination wedding, there’ll be outdoor activities, so you’ll want to bring a pair of comfortable sneakers — like these from one of my favorite brands: Madewell. These kickers go with everything from denim shorts and midi skirts to casual dresses and pants. I found them invaluable when we were in Calistoga, California’s wine region, for my best friend’s wedding. Between lots of window shopping and wine tasting, we did tons of walking, but I was able to stay comfortable. I like how these have the brand’s Cloudlift insoles, which offer more cushioning for your feet. They also have a little more height than my other sneakers because of the platform outsoles. 

Jean Chen Smith


Everlane Linen Side-button Jumpsuit

Everlane


Everlane’s Linen Jumpsuit offers effortless elegance with its relaxed bodice, cute cropped legs, and self-tie belt. The square neckline is very flattering; it can be worn with or without a tank underneath. This was a great piece for all my destination wedding adventures (think: strolls along the beach, wine tasting, casual dinners, and bar hopping with the girls). It comes in five colors, sizes from 00 to 16. If you prefer sleeves, the brand’s cross-front jumpsuit is an excellent option. 

Petal & Pup Janelle Shirred Eyelet Button-up Top

Nordstrom


This gorgeous top pairs well with the Everlane’s denim shorts I mentioned earlier; it also works with the brand’s Ava midi skirt — and basically any bottoms that you have packed in your suitcase. It’s lightweight and made of 100 percent cotton with all-over eyelet designs and delicate shirring across the front of the body. It comes in two colors, pink and cream; if you prefer tank tops, the Tanya Tiered Ruffle Eyelet Tank gives a similar look. 

Best Travel Accessories for Destination Weddings 

Amazon


Whether you’re the one getting married, a bridesmaid, or a guest, one thing’s for sure: you will want to be as prepared as possible. And since I’ve been to four destination weddings around the world, I’ve got plenty of recommendations on the best travel accessories to pack. Keep scrolling to find out what you need to fill the holes on your packing list. 

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