Elegant Destination Wedding Dresses for Your Dream Beach Ceremony

Elegant Destination Wedding Dresses for Your Dream Beach Ceremony

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular over the past decade. Couples love the idea of having an intimate ceremony with their closest friends and family in a beautiful, exotic location. The wedding dresses play a central role in the overall look and feel of a destination wedding. Since the bride has to travel with her dress, she needs to be strategic in finding the perfect gown that is lightweight and travels well, while still being elegant and photogenic in the destination location.  The bride’s dress sets the tone for the style and ambiance of the whole event. This article will explore how to find a dress suited for a destination wedding – from fabric and silhouette to timing your purchase and dress fittings. With some thoughtful planning and savvy shopping, you can find a dress that will look breathtaking on your tropical beach, mountain retreat, or foreign venue wedding day.

Weather Considerations

Weather Considerations: Wedding Dresses

When choosing a destination wedding dresses, it’s important to consider the climate and weather of where you’ll be getting married. Popular tropical locales like Hawaii, Jamaica, and Mexico often have hot, humid, and beachy conditions that call for lightweight, breathable fabrics. Flowy chiffons, crepes, and laces work beautifully in the heat. Avoid heavy fabrics like brocades, satins, and velvets that can cause overheating.

For desert destinations like Las Vegas or Palm Springs, look for fabrics with flow and movement but skip overly lightweight chiffons that could blow up in windy conditions. Breathable lace and linen suit hot dry climates.

If exchanging vows in the mountains or ski country, plan for potentially cooler temps. Look for dresses with sleeves, higher necklines, and layered fabrics to provide warmth. Avoid strapless, backless, or ultra mini styles.

For temperate or potentially rainy destinations like Costa Rica or Belize, have some contingency plans. Consider a ceremony dress with detachable sleeves or a reception dress you can change into. Water-resistant fabrics may also be useful if planning an outdoor event.

No matter the destination, check historical weather data during your wedding month and pack accordingly. Your dream dress won’t be enjoyable if you’re shivering or sweating the whole time. Pick options appropriate for the climate so you can fully enjoy your big day.


One of the most important considerations for a destination wedding dress is portability. Since you’ll likely be traveling to your wedding destination via plane, you’ll want a dress that’s easy to transport and doesn’t take up too much space.

Look for lightweight fabrics like chiffon, crepe, and lace that can be easily folded and packed into a suitcase or garment bag. Avoid heavy fabrics like satin or taffeta that are prone to wrinkling. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination with a wrinkled wedding dress!

Consider a dress with a simple silhouette without extravagant trains or heavy beading/embellishments. The more minimalist the design, the easier it will be to pack. A-line and sheath styles often fold up nicely.

You may also want to skip the poofy crinoline petticoat if your dress has enough structure on its own. The full skirt may look gorgeous on your big day, but all that tulle and volume will take up precious space when packing.

Some clever packing tips are to stuff the dress with tissue paper to hold its shape, and carry it on the plane rather than checking it if allowed. Steaming upon arrival can smooth out any minor wrinkles.

Choosing a lightweight, simple dress is key to ensuring you can easily transport it to your destination wedding location. Focus on fabric, silhouette and embellishments when looking for a portable gown. With some smart packing techniques, your dress will look as flawless walking down the aisle as it did in the bridal salon.


Accessorizing your destination wedding dress is an important part of pulling together your overall wedding day look. When choosing accessories, you’ll want to select pieces that work with your dress and venue.


For a beach wedding, bridal flip flops or sandals are a great option. Look for rhinestone-encrusted or elegantly beaded styles that complement your wedding gown. Avoid heavy or clunky styles that could get stuck in the sand. If having your ceremony near the water, waterproof shoes are a must.

For a destination wedding indoors or on a paved area outdoors, heels, wedges, or flats are all great options. Consider the overall style and length of your dress when selecting your shoes. For example, delicate heels would pair nicely with a long, flowy gown while embellished flats could complement a short, casual dress.


Bridal jewelry for destination weddings should be lightweight and comfortable in the environment. For beach weddings, delicate pieces like small earrings and a simple necklace or bracelet work well. Look for sand-proof styles like engraved metals over fabrics. Jewelry featuring shells, starfish, pearls, or nautical themes are perfect for island weddings.

For other destination weddings, choose bridal jewelry that aligns with the style of your gown. Sparkling statement earrings or an elegant necklace provide beautiful accents without weighing you down in the heat. Opt for quality metals that won’t tarnish in humid weather.

Hair Accessories

Hair combs, pins, clips and headbands crafted with rhinestones, pearls, or seashells make gorgeous additions to updos and flowing hairstyles. Tropical flower hair clips add a playful pop of color and whimsy. Use hair accessories to tie elements of your destination or wedding theme into your look.

Cost Savings: Wedding Dresses

A destination wedding provides the perfect opportunity to save money on your wedding dress compared to a traditional gown. Here are some of the ways a destination wedding dress can reduce costs:

  • Traditional wedding gowns from major designers can cost $1,500-$3,000 or even more. But destination wedding dresses from smaller or specialty designers often range from $500-$1,000. The simpler styling and lightweight fabrics specially chosen for beachside ceremonies bring the costs down.
  • Separating the skirt from the top is a huge money saver. Brides can find a simple waist-high skirt and pair it with a lace or beaded bodice. This allows mixing and matching for the perfect look at a fraction of the cost of a full gown.
  • Destination wedding dresses don’t require the same elaborate undergarments as heavy traditional gowns. You can skip the bustle, petticoats, hoops and layers of tulle. That saves another few hundred dollars.
  • There’s no need for a long train, which also lowers alteration costs. Destination wedding dresses have a shorter train or no train at all.
  • Shopping online opens up a world of budget-friendly options you won’t find in a local bridal salon. Sites like Etsy offer dresses directly from the designers at great prices.

So if you want to save big on your wedding dress, a lightweight and casual destination gown is the perfect way to cut costs while still looking beautiful on your big day. The savings go straight into your honeymoon fund!

Locating a Dress

When shopping for a destination wedding dress, you have several options to find the perfect dress within your budget.

Online Retailers: Wedding Dresses

One of the most convenient ways to shop for a destination wedding dresses is through online retailers that specialize in affordable and lightweight dresses perfect for beach, tropical, and destination weddings. These websites allow you to easily filter by color, silhouette, fabric, and other attributes to find a dress that matches your vision. Many offer free shipping and returns, so you can try on dresses at home. Some popular online shops to browse include Azazie, Lulus, Show Me Your Mumu, Baltic Born, Floravere, and Cocomelody.

Rental Services

Renting a wedding dress is also an affordable option for destination brides on a budget. Rental services allow you to borrow a high quality designer gown for a fraction of the retail cost. Most rental companies offer a wide variety of styles to suit any wedding vision. They handle the dry cleaning before and after your event. Rental wedding dresses are ideal for destination weddings since you likely won’t need your dress for more than a day or two. Popular national rental services to consider include Rent the Runway, Vow to be Chic, Borrowing Magnolia, and Union Station.

When to Buy

Purchasing your destination wedding dresses at the right time is crucial for ensuring a proper fit and timely alterations. Generally, you’ll want to buy your dress 6-12 months before your wedding date. This provides enough time for the dress to be ordered, delivered, fitted, and altered as needed.

For destination weddings, order your dress at least 8-10 months in advance. Factoring in shipping and delivery times is especially important when purchasing from overseas. Allow 2-3 months for the dress to arrive, then leave 5-6 months for fittings and alterations.

Don’t order too far in advance either, as your weight and measurements can fluctuate. Try to time the order so your first fitting is 8-10 months before the wedding, with the second fitting 4-6 months out. The final fitting should be 1-2 months before the wedding date.

Rushing to buy a dress 2-3 months before your destination wedding is risky. Last minute ordering leaves little room for error if the dress doesn’t fit, arrives damaged, or needs significant alterations. You also may have fewer style options as stock sells out.

Build in some buffer room when budgeting your time to buy a destination wedding dress. This ensures you’ll have the perfect dress in hand well before walking down the aisle.


One of the biggest logistical challenges for destination wedding dresses is managing fittings and alterations. For most brides, there are several rounds of appointments for a seamstress to take in the dress perfectly. This becomes more difficult when the dress must be shipped long distances and requires international travel.

There are a few strategies brides can use to handle dress fittings:

  • Schedule video call appointments with the bridal salon. Many shops now offer virtual consultations where the seamstress can assess the fit and pinning over video chat. This allows for more convenience and fewer in-person visits.
  • Travel to the seamstress early. If possible, schedule a trip specifically to have the first fitting done in person 4-6 months before the wedding date. Subsequent smaller fittings may be able to be done virtually.
  • Work with a local seamstress. Some brides ship their dress to a seamstress closer to home for the alterations process. This reduces the need to travel back to the original bridal salon.
  • Build extra time into the schedule. International shipping and appointments mean fittings take more time. Begin the process 6-8 months in advance so there is wiggle room for any delays.
  • Request recommendations for an on-site seamstress. The resort or wedding planner may have partners they recommend for quick on-location alterations and steaming.

With some advance planning and flexibility, brides can have a beautiful, perfectly fitted gown for their destination wedding. Managing the logistics just requires research and an earlier timeline than for local wedding dresses.

Elegant Destination Wedding Dresses


One of the biggest decisions when having a destination wedding is how to get your dress to the location. You have two main options – ship the dress or carry it on the plane.

Shipping the Wedding Dresses

Shipping your dress is convenient but can be risky. Make sure to use a reputable shipping company with insurance and tracking. Ship the dress 1-2 months in advance in case of any delays. Pack it very securely in a hardcase box and put fragile stickers all over it.

Carrying on the Plane

While carrying your dress on the plane reduces shipping risks, it can lead to wrinkles and creases. First, get a sturdy garment bag with padding to protect the dress. Hang the dress smoothly inside and don’t overstuff the bag. Carry it on the plane instead of checking it to prevent lost luggage. Hang it up immediately upon arrival to let it decompress.

No matter how you transport it, your dress can still arrive looking flawless on your big day with some minor steaming and pressing. Carefully planning the delivery method ahead of time provides peace of mind.


When choosing a wedding dress for a destination wedding, there are several factors to consider that make the process unique compared to finding a dress for a traditional wedding. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on finding a lightweight, breathable fabric that will be comfortable in a warm climate. Avoid heavy satins, velvets, or materials that don’t allow air flow.
  • Look for a style that is easy to pack without wrinkling or damaging, like a crepe or chiffon dress with minimal embellishments. A-line or column styles often travel well.
  • Choose a dress that is easy to get on and off for fittings before the wedding and comfort on the big day. Consider a zipper or buttons rather than a corset back which requires assistance.
  • If your destination has a beach, select a dress length that will work on sand, whether short or with a train you can bustle.
  • Carefully select accessories like veils that are transportable and shoes that work on various surfaces.
  • Look for dresses early, allowing time for custom sizing, shipping, and alterations. Select a style you won’t want or need to modify extensively.
  • Work with a reputable retailer who can deliver your dress to your destination and handle post-wedding return shipping.

The process of finding a destination wedding dress requires some different considerations than a gown for a local wedding, but it can result in finding a beautiful, comfortable dress perfect for your unique venue. Selecting the perfect wedding venue for your big day is a crucial decision, and much like choosing the ideal dress, considering practical needs such as weather, portability, and versatility will ensure a seamless and unforgettable celebration.


What Makes a Dress Suitable for a Destination Wedding?

Opt for lightweight fabrics and simple silhouettes for comfort and practicality.

How Do I Choose the Perfect Dress for a Beach Wedding?

Consider bohemian styles, lace details, and shorter hemlines to complement the relaxed beach atmosphere.

Are There Specific Fabrics Ideal for Destination Weddings in Hot Climates?

Choose breathable fabrics like chiffon, organza, or lightweight silk for comfort and easy movement.

Can I Travel With My Wedding Dress Without Damaging It?

Yes, use a garment bag, pack carefully, and hang the dress in a steamy bathroom upon arrival to minimize wrinkles.

Is It Possible to Find Budget-Friendly Destination Wedding Dresses?

Absolutely, explore affordable options at bridal boutiques, sample sales, and online platforms to find the perfect dress without breaking the bank.

About the author

Lisa Alther

Lisa Alther is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.

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