Let's be honest. If you've been invited to attend a destination wedding, you're probably more excited about the locale than the ceremony itself. You might be envisioning a leisure-filled trip with bathing suits and flip-flops or an intercontinental adventure where you'll be sightseeing in your most casual, comfortable garb. But let's not forget there's still a wedding to attend, and just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you can show up to the ceremony dressed like a tourist.
An Inviting Dress Code
The first (and probably best) clue you're going to receive about the dress code should be the invitation. If the wedding is black tie, the invite should say so. If the ceremony is going to be super casual, permitting things like flip-flops and shorts, it'll probably make note of this, too. Even if there's no explicit dress code, many destination wedding invitations still have pertinent clothing-related information on them, such as warnings of warm temperatures or humid climes, though you might have to analyze the wording of a poem or a cheesy limerick to get the info. If the couple hints at 100-degree weather, count on the ceremony being more polo shirt than penguin suit. Be sure you're not dressed too warmly -- you don't want to roast on the beach in a heavy dress or three-piece suit.
What Always Works for the Ladies
No matter where the wedding is taking place (and as long as weather permits), women are usually safe with a dress that hits somewhere between mid-calf and 6 or so inches above the knee. Black will work for nighttime, indoor ceremonies, but try to accessorize with a bit of color -- weddings are celebrations, after all! Pantsuits are fine, but no career separates. And, if you're attending seaside nuptials, you'll always be safe in a sundress and sandals.
What Always Works for the Guys
The dress code is even simpler for guys. Unless it's a black tie affair, a tailored shirt, tie, slacks and a sport coat will see you though any ceremony. Seersucker and madras (if you've got the bravado) are fine for beach and summertime weddings, but stay away from giant palm leaves and other Hawaiian-style shirts. Regardless of what shirt you're wearing, keep it tucked in unless the groom's is untucked. Even at super-casual ceremonies, leave your flip-flops at the hotel unless the invitation specifically says it's OK to wear them.
If You're Still Not Sure…
If you're still not sure what to wear, just ask the maid of honor. Traditionally, the maid of honor answers attire and gift-related questions so the bride can focus on planning the actual wedding. Of course, you can always ask the bride, too -- just don't call her on the day of the wedding!