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What should guests wear to a destination wedding? The answer to that question depends in large part on where the wedding is being held. Guests have a relatively wide choice of dress; just remember that it's always bad form to outshine the bride. For women that means leaving that sexy, strapless number at home ... and for men, that red, rhinestone-studded cocktail suit.
Guests to a beach wedding are expected to dress in "Caribbean chic" resort wear. Shorts are inappropriate to a wedding, even in the tropics, cotton sundresses for women and a cotton or silk shirt and slacks for men are fine. Keep the accessories and jewelry to a minimum.
For a tropical wedding -- like in Hawaii or Tahiti, for example -- wearing tropical print fabrics is acceptable and even encouraged. Women might consider a print sundress or full skirt; gentlemen could wear a vibrant print, loose shirt over white pants.
In Bermuda, where knee-length shorts are the standard business attire for men, it's fine for men to wear "Bermuda shorts." Keep in mind, however, that these shorts are accompanied by knee-high socks and a sports jacket.
A lot of time and effort goes into planning what you'll wear for your wedding ceremony, but those aren't the only clothes you'll need for your wedding trip. You'll need clothes for the rehearsal dinner, for your honeymoon, and for after the wedding.
Depending on the type of party or reception they are having after the wedding, most couples will want to change clothes after their destination wedding. For instance, if you've planned a barbecue on the beach to celebrate your nuptials, you won't want to wear your white outfits. Plus, unlike most traditional wedding gowns, a destination wedding dress can be worn after the wedding, as a party dress or for other casual, yet elegant occasions. There's not sense ruining it.
After the wedding, let your clothes follow the type of the destination where you're having the wedding. In the Caribbean, opt for light colors and light-weight fabrics. In Hawaii, add a little Polynesian flair by wearing vibrant island prints.
If you're getting married in Europe, your after-wedding attire depends on the location. A stylish dress or slacks and a silk shirt are suitable for a daytime event in a major city. You may want something more formal for evening affairs. For European resorts, light-colored, light-weight clothes are de rigeur.
Sure, it's the bride that draws all of the attention, but you don't want the groom looking sloppy or hastily dressed either. The groom's attire should complement the bride's without overshadowing her. Below are some ideas:
Beach Wedding. Casual is the rule for a beach wedding. The groom might wear white pants and a white silk shirt, a light-colored suit, or for more formal weddings a tuxedo. For Polynesian weddings, the groom might consider a traditional loose-fitting, white, embroidered, Hawaiian wedding shirt over white pants. Wear sandals -- or go barefoot --f or a wedding in the sand.
European Weddings. A lot depends on what country you've chosen for your wedding vows, but generally, European weddings are more formal than beach or resort weddings. A dark suit is proper for an afternoon wedding; Wear a tuxedo for a formal, evening wedding. If you're of Scottish descent, consider wearing a traditional kilt and jacket for a Highlands wedding.
Of course, if the groom is in the military, a uniform is correct and elegant no matter where the wedding is taking place.
Destination wedding attire for him can be found in a number of outlets, from department stores to online retailers to destination wedding planners. Many such firms sell clothing as well as travel planning services.
The Bride's outfit for a destination wedding doesn't have to be as formal or as expensive as a traditional wedding gown. Still, you'll want to look your best. What you wear depends, largely, on where you'll be getting married. Below are some ideas:
Beach Wedding. If you will be saying "I Do" on a beach, don't compete with the scenery by wearing all kinds of ruffles and frills. You can also lose the pantyhose and even your shoes, if you'll be standing on sand, to say your vows. Those of us who live in cold-weather climates tend to forget in January and February how humid and sultry tropical weather can be.
Good choices for a beach wedding include a flowing white or off-white dress. Cotton, gauze, and silk are good fabric choices. For a Polynesian (Hawaiian or Tahitian) wedding, consider wearing a sarong or pareo in a tropical print. Brides getting married in Mexico may want to consider wearing a traditional Mexican wedding dress, one made of embroidered, rough-hewn cotton.
European Wedding. Getting married in Europe evokes the romantic in all of us. Those with roots in the country where they are marrying might want to add a reminder of that heritage, such as a tartan scarf for a Scottish Highlands wedding. Brides getting married in Paris or Milan may want to take advantage of the excellent fashion available in these cities.
Getting married in Hawaii gives a bride and groom the opportunity to incorporate the culture of the islands into their wedding attire. Hawaiian print shirts, dresses, and sarongs add that colorful and festive note to any tropical wedding ceremony. These are ideal for the wedding party. For the wedding couple, consider an all-white motif. A white, cotton, flowing gown for the bride and white pants, topped with a casual white Hawaiian wedding shirt for the groom.
Flowers are an essential part of any Hawaiian wedding attire. Flower leis -- strings of orchid, gardenia, and hibiscus blossoms -- are the perfect adornment for both the bride and groom. The bride may also wish to wear a cornet of flowers on her head. Leis are a traditional Hawaiian symbol of love and friendship.
Footwear for a tropical wedding depends on where you'll be getting married. High heels have no place in tropical wedding attire. Opt instead for basic, strapped sandals; flip-flops embellished with hand-painted flowers or gemstones; or simply go barefoot.
Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. A pair of earrings -- gold or pearl -- should be sufficient.
Including your young sister, niece, or soon-to-be sister-in-law in your wedding is a charming idea. What young girl wouldn't be thrilled to be a part of the festivities. But, what should she wear for a beach wedding?
Beach weddings tend to be more casual that traditional, hometown weddings, and flower girl fashions reflect this. You flower girl's dress should mimic the style of the older wedding attendants. If they are wearing simple, cotton shift-like dress, so should your flower girl. If the older bridesmaids are wearing strapless dresses, however, it's more appropriate to add spaghetti straps to the little girl's dress.
Footwear can be challenging for a beach wedding. Again, the flower girl's shoes should be a variation of the adult attendant's. Sandals or simple, one-strap, Mary Jane-style shoes are best.
Accessories for a flower girl at a beach wedding should also be simple. A pearl necklace or gold chain and perhaps a ribbon in her hair to match her dress are enough. Give the girl a simple floral bouquet of hibiscus or gardenia flowers to carry.
The beach scenery is beautiful enough that you don't want a lot of color and frills to detract from the setting. As with all beach wedding attire, simple is best.
Bridesmaid dresses at a destination wedding -- like at a traditional wedding -- should complement the bride's attire. As with a traditional wedding, these outfits are usually chosen by the bride, sometimes with the maid of honor's or the bridesmaids' input.
The bridesmaid dresses at a destination wedding should match the bride's dress in style and mood. If the bride is wearing a simple, white sundress, the bridesmaid dresses shouldn't be elaborate, fussy affairs.
Pastel colors -- pink, lilac, blue, and seafoam green -- are good choices for a seaside or beach wedding. Simple designs are best with a minimum of accessories and adornments. Use flowers and classic jewelry to accessorize.
Footwear for the bridesmaid should also be simple for a beach wedding. Heels just aren't appropriate in the tropics. Opt instead for classic, strapped sandals or go barefoot if the wedding is in the sand. The bridesmaids' footwear should match the bride's.
Bridemaid fashions for a destination wedding can be found online at a number of retailers or ask your destination wedding planner. Many such firms also offer attire for a destination wedding.
"Go simple" is the best advice for planning what to wear for your beach wedding. However, that doesn't mean that you have to forgo accessories entirely. Below are just a few items to enhance your beach wedding ensemble:
Flowers. If you are getting married in a tropical location, take advantage of the abundant flowers one finds around every corner in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii. A simple gardenia placed behind your ear is an elegant addition, as is a white or brightly-colored hibiscus blossom.
Jewelry. Again simple is good advice. Basic pearl, drop earrings or a single gold chain or strand of pearls are classic choices. Don't choose jewelry that is too colorful, clunky, or gaudy.
Purse. In most cases, you won't even need a purse or a bag. Isn't that what your maid of honor is for? If you do feel you need somewhere to stash your cell phone or credit cards, choose a simple clutch bag or a small mini tote bag that matches your dress.
Something borrowed. Does your family -- or your groom's family -- have a piece of heirloom jewelry that's been in the family for years? Not only will it bring you luck, but the right heirloom piece, used alone, is a unique and singular addition to any look.
Unlike traditional wedding gowns, destination wedding attire can be found in a large number of places. And the good news is that destination wedding attire is substantially less expensive than those satin and lace designer gowns. Below are just a few places to look for destination wedding attire:
1. Resort wear department in traditional stores. Many stores, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, have special resort wear departments at least for part of the year. Here you'll find flowing, cotton or silk, lightweight dresses as well as sarongs, colorful accessories, and dressy sandals -- all perfect for a beach wedding. You can also shop here for swim wear and other items you may need for your destination wedding trip.
2. Onsite resort boutiques. If you are traveling to a large resort for your wedding, the property may have one or more clothing shops located within the hotel. Your group coordinator at the hotel or your destination wedding planner can put you in touch with a salesperson. They are likely to have, or be able to order, items for your wedding wardrobe.
3. Destination wedding companies. If you are working with a destination wedding planning company (and you should; it will save you money and time), make sure to ask them if they carry any destination wedding apparel. Many such companies have diversified into wedding attire and some will even offer you a discount based on the number of hotel rooms you are booking for your trip.
Traditional satin three-inch pumps just don't work on sand. In fact, they can be downright dangerous. Don't despair; you can still look elegant without those heels. Here are a few ideas:
1. Go barefoot. There's nothing wrong with going barefoot for your beach wedding ... and it's kind of fun to feel the sand in your toes. However, if you decide on this option, be sure to make an appointment at the salon for a pedicure the day before the wedding.
2. Embellished flip-flops. The popularity of beach weddings has spawned a whole line of beach wedding footwear. The most common of these shoes are colored flip-flops with jewels or flower designs. They come in dozens of colors to make any wedding color palette.
3. Sandals. Simply flat, strapped sandals -- in white or a number of other pale colors -- add an elegant, yet functional finish to your wedding outfit.
Look for beach wedding footwear online or from your destination wedding specialist. Many companies that specialize in travel arrangements for destination weddings also carry beach wedding accessories. Let may even offer you a discount.