Planning your wedding may seem to consume your every waking moment. Don't worry, the finish line isn't far away, and then you're headed to a honeymoon of rest and relaxation. There is, however, one additional task you will have to accomplish before racing off to that balmy beach resort with your new husband: packing.
Your days will probably be filled with sunning, the beach, and casual island adventure. Still, you will surely be dining at a nice restaurant at least once, and perhaps going out dancing, so you'll want to have something appropriate to wear. We've put together some pointers so you can pack for your tropical honeymoon quickly and easily, and end up with a versatile vacation wardrobe you'll love.
If you're headed to the tropics, you will be wearing very little. That means you shouldn't need to pack a lot. And if you're going for just a week or so, you won't need lots of changes, especially if you pick pieces you can mix and match. With this in mind, decide you're going to pack just one maximum sized (9" x 13" x 23" on most airlines) carry-on suitcase for yourself. That way you can keep your bag with you, avoid baggage check and claim hassles, and eliminate the risk of losing your luggage en route. If you're the average woman, you'll be packing more than your groom, so negotiate to put shared toiletries in his bag.
Find out what your hotel might provide (shampoo, a hair dryer, etc.) and don't pack duplicates. That leaves you room to fill your suitcase with clothes and personal toiletries. A smart packer can fit 2 pairs of shoes, 2-3 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants, 2-3 skirts or dresses, 2-3 swimsuits and a coverup, 4-5 t-shirts, 2 blouses, lingerie, a hat, a lightweight sweater, sleepwear, and personal toiletries in that single carry on. Consider too that you'll have a whole additional outfit (and shoes!) on your back -- your traveling outfit.
Most airlines will let you carry on a second bag; choose a large tote that will double as your daytime purse/beach bag. In the tote, pack your makeup, hair items, that novel you've been dying to read, a small zippered bag with your jewelry, and your other standard purse items. Also put a small evening bag in it -- probably one that matches your dressy sandals and has a long strap so you can wear it safely, diagonally across your chest. You can use the smaller bag when you go out in the evening and want to leave the big tote behind.
Then, remember the cardinal rule of packing: pack light, then go through and take out half.
Dresses and Skirts
The trick here is to pick versatile items that you can dress up or dress down. A terrific little black dress -- in a lightweight fabric, with spaghetti straps or minimal sleeves -- can be dressed up (perhaps with strappy, heeled sandals, a funky shawl and hoop earrings) for evening, or dressed down -- with Keds and a straw hat -- during the day. You might consider packing another sun dress, probably in cotton or washable silk, for another evening out or a special brunch. Consider also a lightweight wrap skirt or a sarong that can serve double duty: pared with a silk tank top for an evening out dancing, or worn over your swimsuit for a day look.
Even if you wear pants all the time in your regular life, you'll probably find you hardly wear them on your beach vacation. So limit yourself to just two pairs maximum. Your best options are found among the following:
- Cotton or linen slacks, perhaps in white or a natural tone, or a very lightweight denim.
- Lightweight Capri pants, perhaps in a stretch fabric -- perfect and cool for the tropics. Keep in mind that cotton spandex wears like cotton but washes and wears like spandex -- you can rinse it out and wear it again during the trip; these are easily dressed down with little tennis shoes or dressed up with a slightly heeled sandal.
- Khakis -- they were originally designed for the tropics, and are another great choice.
If you plan to engage in activities like horseback riding, you might have cause to pack a pair of jeans, but otherwise, leave them at home -- they're bulky in your suitcase and impractical in the tropics. A midweight pair of khakis can substitute for jeans and will pack better.
Plan on packing two or three pairs of casual shorts, probably in cotton, plus another pair, or a split skirt, that is a bit dressier, perhaps in linen or rayon. If you plan to wear one pair for beach-going, decide that ahead of time and keep the other casual away from the beach, for when you need something sand and sunblock-free.
Pack several cotton T-shirts. The tropics get, well, tropical and you may need to change your T-shirt more than once a day. Again, cotton/spandex blends can be easily handwashed and worn again later during the trip. Consider also packing a big,
cool cotton or linen shirt to wear after a hot day at the beach. A linen or cotton shirt can be worn tucked into linen slacks one evening, then knotted at the midriff and worn over your suit or with a sarong or split skirt a few evenings later.
You'll probably want to take at least two swimsuits. This way you can alternate them, and you'll never have to put on a wet suit! If you are a bikini-wearer, consider getting two of the mix and match styles, so you can get four looks out of two suits. Most brides pack a two piece and a one-piece suit, favoring the two piece during the day and the one piece for that evening dip in the spa. You might also want to pack a great beach coverup, so you don't expend your t-shirts and shorts for the short trek to the beach. You might decide to pick up a funky sarong while you're there; consider one in colors that go with your suit so you can wear it as a coverup.
Don't forget a hat for when you're in the sun, either the aforementioned straw hat or a cute baseball hat, and be sure to pack sunblock and lip balm in your toiletries. You'll also want to be sure to bring a pair of sunglasses. (For advice on picking a great pair of shades, read our sidebar.)
Lingerie and Sleepwear
These items usually don't take up much space. Seeing as it's your honeymoon, you may have decided not to pack any at all! In addition to your preferred everyday lingerie, you might want to pack something special for your wedding night. Be sure to pack any special lingerie needed to wear the items you are packing, i.e. a strapless bra to wear with that spaghetti strap top. You might want to bring a pair of leggings for lounging in your room. Leave the stockings at home, but don't forget cotton socks to wear with your tennis shoes. Your feet will appreciate the pampering.
It's unlikely that you'll need more than a light cotton sweater for cooler evenings. If a fluke storm blows in and you need more warmth, you can buy it there. The odds are slim that you'll need more and you shouldn't pack for the long-shot.
Your best shoe decision is selecting the right pair of sandals. They should be comfortable to walk and dance in, but just dressy enough to wear out at night. Your best choice might be in black, with a slight heel or wedge, which can instantly transform a day look into an evening look. Also pack a pair of tennis shoes. Unless you plan to work out on your honeymoon, pack something lightweight and comfortable like Keds, since bulky running shoes tend to take up a great deal of space in a suitcase. Finally, you might want to slip in a pair of rubber water shoes ("Tevas") for reefwalking, tide pooling or walking on the beach or in rocky waters. They can also be your casual "day" sandal.
If in doubt, follow this color strategy to end up with a suitcase full of items that easily mix and match. Choose bottoms -- pant and shorts -- in solid neutrals like black, white, tan, khaki and navy (or denim). Then you can choose more broadly for your tops -- everything from baby blue to shocking pink, greens, reds, bright colors and combinations of colors. If you pack black dressy sandals and a black evening bag, white tennis shoes and a white or straw tote, you have great, color-coordinated options for day and for night. If you want to throw in some patterns (maybe a tropical print), limit it to your swimsuits and a sundress or skirt that can be worn with other elements. Stay with the neutrals -- probably black or white -- for that little cotton sweater. In this system, virtually every top will go with every bottom, and you can make any outfit casual or dressier by wearing either the tennis shoe accessories or the sandal accessories and the appropriate jewelry.
Have a great trip!