Remember: Organization is your saving grace when you're planning a wedding. Never is this more true than when you're leaving for a destination wedding. You need to have a checklist for everything you should take along. You need another checklist for everything that you have to accomplish (meeting with the wedding coordinator, attending the rehearsal, presenting the attendants' gifts) once you arrive. You need still another list for things that you'd like to do while you're away (scuba diving, hiking, chatting poolside with the girls, and so on).
Make a List
The most important list to assemble is the one that includes everything you need to pack. You do not want to arrive at your destination only to realize that you've forgotten the marriage license or — gasp! — the vows that took you so long to compose. Here are some other things that you won't want to overlook when packing:
The rings. If they're in your possession now, make sure you take them. If you're flying, pack the rings in your carry-on luggage! Your reservation information. Confirmation numbers, credit card receipts, e-mail correspondence — anything that will help clear up any confusion upon checking in to your hotel or picking up your rental car. Your bridal folder or notebook. Be sure this includes contact information for all of the vendors you've been working with. (Obviously, this applies to brides who are working with several vendors.) Keep phone numbers and contract information at your fingertips. You'll need to be in contact with these people in the days leading up to the wedding. Wedding gear. The dress, the groom's suit, your undergarments. Make a separate list for your many accessories (shoes, handbag, earrings, and so on), and check them off as you pack them. Vacation gear. If you're off for a wedding anda honeymoon, make sure you pack accordingly. Take extra sunscreen, appropriate footwear, and enough formal and casual wear to see you through whatever you have planned. If you're driving, make sure you have a map leading you to your destination and a map of the area to use once you arrive.
If you're flying, also remember to take your plane tickets for the return flight home (yes, you really do have to come back — sorry). You'll need a valid form of ID in order to get on the plane, so make sure to book those tickets in your maiden name!
Bag It or Buy It?
You know, you can look at a list of things you'd pack to take on vacation and say to yourself, “I can buy that when I get there.” And thankfully, you're right. If you forget to pack sunscreen, you could certainly pick that up anywhere. But if money is any sort of concern, plan ahead and purchase it at home!
Pack soaps, shampoos, or anything that could spill in your suitcase in plastic bags — either the kind with a “zipper” top, or the kind that you can suck all of the air out of. If you're flying, make sure those bags are clear plastic in case your bags are selected for inspection by hand.
Think about this: When you run out of toothpaste at home, you have the option to stop by the convenience store and pick up a tube or drive two miles down the road and purchase it at the drugstore. Many people choose to drive down to the drugstore, even in this age of skyrocketing fuel prices, because the toothpaste in the convenience store will cost you roughly double the normal price. Shops in tourist towns are the same. If you've forgotten to pack just one or two necessities, you won't exactly go broke purchasing them out of town. But it's just not wise to plan to buy everything once you get there just so you don't have to pack it. That's just throwing your money away.
Every bride has her own individual list of needs, so make sure you add those to your list, too. (Medications, reading material, contact lens solution, and anything else you can't do without.) And start the list nice and early — at least two weeks prior to taking off for your destination wedding. Even if you become completely overwhelmed by last-minute planning, you'll have a solid list to rely on to ensure that the essentials aren't left behind. If you've already started a detailed packing list, you'll stay one step ahead of any panic that sets in as you get closer to your date of departure.