How to Choose a Bridal Gown for a Destination Wedding

Image Gallery: Beautiful Beaches Your wedding gown, like you, has to make the trek from Chicago to Cancun. Make sure it's amenable to going the distance. See more pictures of beaches.
Image Gallery: Beautiful Beaches Your wedding gown, like you, has to make the trek from Chicago to Cancun. Make sure it's amenable to going the distance. See more pictures of beaches.

You've decided to grab your betrothed and get hitched in some exotic, faraway land -- how exciting! Destination weddings are adventurous, once-in-a-lifetime events, but don't start packing your bags just yet; you've still got to find the right dress. Choosing a gown for a destination wedding is a bit more complicated than finding something to wear for a stateside ceremony, but we'll tell you everything you need to know to make sure both you and your dress are every bit as stunning and glamorous as your locale.

Know Your Setting

The style of your gown depends on where and when you're going to say "I do." If you're getting married during the day, focus on styles with beautiful embroidery, pleats, ruffles and lace. All of these details will be noticeable in the sunlight but might be missed after nightfall. Conversely, choosing a simple gown that subtlety sparkles with crystal embellishments or metallic threads will enhance your shimmering beauty under the light of the moon.


Destination weddings often take place outside, so you need to know what kind of terrain you'll be grappling with. Will your aisle be made from finished garden stone, a manicured lawn or a sandy dune? Your dress not only needs to look good, it also needs to be functional. Wear a long, billowy gown while walking down an uneven aisle, and you'll probably end up kissing the ground before your new husband!

Size Matters

That long-trained gown you've always dreamed of is great -- as long as you're getting married in a spacious cathedral. Unlike your indispensable diamond stud earrings or your trusty camel slingbacks that seem to go with everything, wedding gowns aren't interchangeable. Just as you wouldn't wear a knee-grazing, flirty dress to a winter wedding in New York, you'll want to avoid a gala-sized gown for beachfront nuptials. Besides looking completely out of place, wearing the wrong kind of gown to a destination wedding can be cosmetically problematic. Unless you want sweat spots on your bodice and hermit crabs crawling up your train, you may want to go with a short dress.

Living in a Material World

There's no shame in being a material girl when it comes to choosing the perfect fabric for your destination wedding gown. If you're heading to the tropics, you'll need a dress made from all-natural fabrics that rest easy on your skin and breathe, but beware of fabrics that wrinkle easily, such as silk. Synthetic fabrics will repel wrinkles and typically cost less, but they can also make you sweaty and itchy and may even give you a rash, which is definitely not something you want on your wedding day (or night).

Gowns to Go

If you live in Chicago but are tying the knot in Cancun, you'll have to travel with your gown. Unless your bridal salon can ship it to your destination after your final round of alterations, it'll probably end up stashed in an overhead compartment on your flight. Sure, it'll be protected by a garment bag, but wedding dresses aren't exactly designed to share storage space with random luggage. Sometimes, there's a closet available to first-class passengers, but you may be better off just buying your dress its own seat. It'll be expensive, but at least that way you're pretty much guaranteed a spot next to the window!