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Packing for a destination wedding

Having a destination wedding or attending one as a guest? Don't miss this list of tips for packing for a wedding abroad.

what to pack for a destination wedding - photo by mikkel paige photography

All My Bags are Packed, I'm Ready to Go… are you singing Leaving on a Jet Plane in your head yet? 😉

Well, all my bags are almost packed. I have run into a snag that is particular with destination weddings: packing.

Basically, you have to cram everything you would normally take on vacation or honeymoon (a two-week one, for us) plus all of your “wedding stuff” – decor, cake topper, gifts (our biggest problem right now, since we originally thought we would have a chance to drop more off ahead of time) into a specific number of bags, within a specific size and weight range.

And if you need to check more than your allotted bag number, you will need to pay. And if you are overweight in your bags, you need to pay even more.

For us, we are flying with Air Canada. That means we each get one checked bag, less than 50 lbs in weight. We also each get one carry on and one “personal item”. For me, though, my wedding dress is my carry on, so that means one less bag. We also will have to go through security and customs, and some wedding items will raise a few eyebrows at that time (like the mini cameras and bubba kegs that are gifts to our guests). So here are some tips:

Packing for a destination wedding

  1. Organize, organize, organize! I am a lists girl, so I have lists of everything in every bag. That way, if a bag goes missing, I know what was in it.
  2. Put a little of everything in your bags. We have decided to check one extra bag – it is cheaper than being overweight. Some destination brides swear by one bag of her clothes, one of his, and one of wedding stuff in that scenario. That was not going to happen for us. Plus, if you do lose a bag, you are out of luck before it gets to you. So, while one bag is MOSTLY a particular item (i.e. mostly wedding stuff, mostly my clothes, etc.), there are a few items of his clothes in each bag, my clothes in each bag, and wedding stuff in each bag.
  3. Pack a complete outfit on the plane. Swimsuit, dinner outfit. That is another safety measure in case stuff goes missing, or if your room is not ready.
  4. Keep your receipts. We have mostly done this (I wish I would have been more diligent about it, actually), and have them in a master duotang, along with all correspondence from the coordinator, spa, photographer, travel agent… you get the idea. This will hopefully save us some headaches in going through customs and security, in case questions are asked about the gifts.
  5. Use your clothing to wrap your items. Don't want anything to break and adding extra “stuffing” could make your bag overweight– so just use what soft clothing you're already packing to protect any breakable items.
  6. It is cheaper to bring things from home instead of renting them at most times. But remember, part of the reason one chooses a destination is for the scenery; rely on it, and you will need to buy less/take less/ spend less. Good all around!
  7. The saying is, to bring half of the clothing you think you need, and twice as much money. We are at an all-inclusive, so are not sticking to the money part of that, but it is a good idea for the clothing. Especially when you are in one place the whole time; however, a lot of places (like the restaurants at our site) have dress codes – research (and organization).

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packing tips for your destination wedding


is a teacher living in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She got married in 2013 - read her wedding planning posts here.