Preparing for a wedding is tough, but at least you have a good idea of what to expect. You know what time the ceremony starts, where the reception is taking place and when you're supposed to schmooze, eat cake and be pelted with birdseed. Everything is organized right down to the minute -- you even know all the little details that don't directly relate to you, like where everyone's supposed to sit.
The same isn't true when it comes to your honeymoon. It's as unstructured as your wedding day is structured. Sure, you know the destination and when your flight leaves. But that's it. Most brides don't make a hyper-detailed itinerary (unless you're really, really Type A, and chances are things still won't work out exactly as you planned). How do you pack for a five- or seven-day stretch of open-ended events?
Regardless if you're the kind of girl who tries to stuff everything she owns into a suitcase, or you like to stick with the essentials (like the clothes on your back), you'd probably like a little help from brides who've been there, worn that. We'll itemize your packing list and help you decide what to bring and what to leave behind. You can rest easy knowing you'll have everything you need on your honeymoon -- now all you have to decide is what to do once you get there. Beach or spa first?
First, suiting up for relaxation -- bikini and juicy book required.
Lounging and Excursions
You just executed the wedding of your dreams, and now you're ready to lounge around with the love of your life. No matter your destination, a good amount of your time is going to be spent kicking back. Be prepared to get casual.
To get the most out of your honeymoon downtime, you're going to need:
- sandals or flip-flops
- one or two pairs of shorts
- one pair of jeans (we like white for tropical locales)
- a few swimsuits and matching cover-ups (make sure to bring a one-piece if you'll be doing any water sports or underwater exploration)
- some tank tops and tees
- a hat
- sunblock or suntan lotion
- aloe vera gel (for when you forget to apply the suntan lotion)
- a good book and a magazine
Of course, relaxing isn't everything. You'll want to stretch your legs and explore the local sights. For more adventurous outings, you'll need:
- a pair of tough khakis or cargo pants
- running or hiking shoes, or all-terrain sandals
- sports bra
- bug spray, lip balm and sweat-proof sunblock
- small wallet that can be stashed in your front pants pocket
- guidebook and map of the area you're visiting -- a quick-reference language guide wouldn't hurt, either
- umbrella or poncho
- jacket or windbreaker
- camera and extra film/memory card
- lightweight backpack
- cell phone in case of emergencies (make sure it gets service, even if you have to buy a local prepaid phone)
Evening and Late Night
When the sun goes down, you'll be making a wardrobe change. You just got married, so you'll want to go out and show off your new hubby. Dinner, dancing and drinks are a sure thing wherever you're honeymooning, so dress for the occasion.
To get a taste of your destination's nightlife, you're going to need:
- high heels or dressy flats and sandals
- at least two dresses (one more formal cocktail dress, one slightly more casual sundress)
- strapless bra and seamless underwear
- evening bag
- accessories (depending on where you are, you may want to limit the bling -- wear your wedding band, but leave the rock in the hotel or even at home if you're heading off-resort to a local watering hole)
Let's not forget you're on your honeymoon! Experiencing the nightlife is fine, but it's the late nights that newlyweds tend to look forward to the most.
We'll skip the finer details (every bride's taste is different), but you should definitely bring along some lingerie and any other souvenirs you got showered with at your bachelorette party. And if you want to keep your family a party of two for a while, plan accordingly with contraceptives.
Travel, Beauty and Body
On very few vacations in your life will you consider a cocktail dress an "essential." If you forget it, don't sweat it. But be sure to make room for these easily overlooked items:
- feminine hygiene products (bring these along in case of emergency if you're traveling abroad, as they can be near-impossible to find in some foreign countries)
- travel/shopping guide
- electrical converter (if needed)
- hairdryer, curling or straightening iron
- shampoo and conditioner
- body lotion
- shaving cream
- nail file
- hairbrush and comb
- hair ties and headbands
- several large, self-sealing bags for damp or dirty clothes, shoes and swimwear
- bandages (a basic first-aid kit wouldn't hurt if you can fit it in)
- antibacterial lotion
- glasses, contacts, eye drops and contact lens solution
- motion-sickness medicine
- emergency cash
- anything the hubs might forget
What to Leave Behind
You have a lot to bring, but what you leave behind can be just as important. Be sure to leave the following with a close family member of friend:
- a rough itinerary (if you have one)
- the phone number and address of your hotel and the dates you'll be staying there
- copies of your passport and driver's license
- credit card numbers
- copies of your traveler's check receipts
- sealed copies of your life-insurance information and will
- any other pertinent financial information
This is a tried-and-true list of honeymoon must-haves, and if you use it, we guarantee you'll have everything you need for your once-in-a-lifetime getaway.
Have fun, be careful, and if you forget something, let it slide -- this vacation is about enjoying the start of your new lives together, not mourning the cocktail dress that got left behind (but seriously, try not to forget that one!).