The idea of packing for a honeymoon can be stressful enough, but packing for your destination wedding is at least three times as daunting! It's definitely something that any destination bride should put a lot of thought into long before the big day so that you're well prepared. I started thinking about how I would pack everything that I needed to bring along at least a few months before I was set to leave, and luckily, the entire process ran pretty seemlessly in the end. This week's Picks on Paper lists five things that you absolutely must before you start packing for your destination wedding. Hopefully, it will serve as a good jumping off point for you :)
Before I get to those packing essentials though, I thought I'd offer a little bit more advice on how to pack for your destination wedding.
- Make a planning binder. I'm actually planning on doing an entire blog post on this subject alone in the coming weeks, but I thought I should at least mention it here, too! Get a binder and plastic sleeves to store all of the receipts, timelines, lists, paperwork, contact information and notes that you think you will need for your destination wedding. Think about what not only you will need to have with you, but what you'll need to provide your vendors once you arrive at your destination...signed contracts, schedules or timelines, checklists, etc. After the wedding was over, I also used my binder to save little momentos throughout our trip, like our plane ticket stubs, cocktail napkins and that kind of stuff.
- Pack smart! Really think about the best way to arrange everything in your suitcases ahead of time, and think through different scenarios. For instance, we were all alloted one suitcase for free on our international flight, so I asked my mom and my maid of honor months prior to plan on bringing their largest suitcases with them and saving me room in them for wedding supplies. I divided up what each suitcase would have in it ahead of time, and we all met the day before we were set to leave to pack up our luggage together. I also used all of my table linens as padding for my more fragile items, and sorted through what was most fragile or valuable to divide amongst all of our carry-on bags. I made copies of all of my receipts so that everyone who had my stuff in their bags had receipts for them, but this was more of a precaution in case anyone got stuck going through Customs when we arrived in Mexico. Again, I'll dig into this a bit more in the coming weeks!
- Don't forget any items you'll require for...
- Wedding paper including a copy of your invitation (for photos), menus, programs, tags for your wedding favors, labels and any signs that you want to put on display.
- Ceremony decor and anything you need for your ceremony service (items for a sand ceremony, for instance).
- Photography props, signs and decor for your cake and guestbook tables
- Wedding favors, welcome bags and gifts for bridal party
- Table numbers, escort cards and/or place cards
- Guest book
- Cake topper and toasting flutes
- Song lists, iPod or CDs for ceremony, cocktail hour and reception
- Table items like linens, napkins, napkin rings, charger plates, flatware, glassware, etc.
- Bride and groom's attire including the dress, jewelry/accessories, veil, shoes, suit/tux, tie, socks/nylons, undergarments, garter, family heirlooms (something old, borrowed and blue!), cufflinks and anything for your bouquet, boutonnieres, etc.
- ...and most importantly, don't forget your marriage license!
Since you'll probably be meeting many of your vendors for the first time the day before or the day of your wedding, make sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork and payments together for them. It's a good idea to divide the money and tips ahead of time. Some vendors will prefer cash; while others will take check and even credit, so make sure you know how, exactly, you'll be paying each vendor beforehand. If you have paid anyone already, make sure that you bring your receipts/proof of payment with you, too! Don't count on there being a bank nearby your resort or wedding venue; trust me, you won't want to have to deal with it. Learn more about tipping your vendors right here, and then divide your tips (and any payments required) into separate envelopes that you can eventually pass off to a trusted friend or family member to handle on the day of your wedding.
Picks on Paper - How to Pack for Your Destination Wedding
- Hardside Suitcase by Diane von Furstenberg, 28" Rolling Spinner Upright
In preparation of our destination wedding, Dale and I purchased a huge (biggest one we could find) hardside suitcase, and it was probably the best purchase we made before our wedding. I wanted the hardcase because I figured that it would do a better job of protecting the more fragile items that I was planning on packing for the wedding, like my poms, which could have easily gotten crushed if I wasn't careful. The hardcase doesn't get smushed down like regular fabric style luggage, and it was super lightweight! I will say that the interior is typically much more basic in the hardside cases; you don't have as many little zippered compartments to put things in. However, when you're packing table linens, wedding favors and things like that, you don't really need those little pouches everywhere! I chose to feature this super cute printed suitcase by Diane von Furstenberg, which is admittedly a bit pricey, but there are many other hardside cases out there at a variety of price points. This is the one that we actually own, and we use it all the time.
- Wedding Belles Passport Holder by Kate Spade
Depending on where your destination wedding is, you may or may not need this super adorable passport holder, but it's just so darn cute, that I had to include it! However, it is important to think about and/or check your passport for an expiration date beforehand. Make sure that it won't expire by the time your wedding or honeymoon comes around, and if you don't have one at all yet, allow at least six months to apply for one and get it before your wedding. To learn more about getting a passport for the first time, go here. It's a good idea to notify your guests ahead of time if they'll need a passport, as well!
- Craft Kit
Like most things in life, you can prepare and prepare for something, but you should always expect the unexpected. For that reason, make sure that you bring a craft kit with all of the essentials that you may need for the wedding. Unlike many brides, you'll be in a hotel room in the final days leading up to your wedding, and you won't have easy access to basic things like scissors and hot glue guns. This particular little jarred sewing kit is from Anthropologie, but I chose it more because it's a cute photo than because I think you need this particular kit! It's pretty easy to make your own, actually. I would recommend bringing the following items, at the very least:
- Scissors. Bring at least two pairs because chances are, you'll have someone else helping you with your last minute wedding projects!
- Glue sticks. Again, bring a couple, and think about bringing a hot glue gun, spray adhesive, etc., if you think you'll need it.
- Extra paper, ribbons, stencils, patterns, fabric and anything else that you have used for your wedding thus far.
- Quart Sized Ziploc Bags
Basic, yes, but these things are beyond awesome and totally saved my life. Plan on getting at least one big box of quart sized plastic bags for packing everything. It's a great way to keep all of your things organized in your big hardcase suitcase.
- Plastic Bins
In preparation of your destination wedding, start collecting plastic bins for any breakables that you plan on bringing along. Hopefully, you'll have your hardside suitcase that will protect all of your stuff, but it's good to have a couple of bins too, just in case you end up needing to use someone else's suitcase, as well. Look for flat bins though, so they don't take up too much space in your luggage! The bins are also great for storing any paper items like menus and programs that you're planning on bringing along that you don't want to get bent during transport.
- Hardside Suitcase by Diane von Furstenberg, 28" Rolling Spinner Upright