How to Choose the Perfect Destination Wedding Dress

Breigh and Louise's destination wedding in Wanaka, New Zealand

Destination weddings have become increasingly popular as more couples tying the knot in beautiful and unique locations. Whether you’re planning a seaside, tropical beach wedding in the Caribbean, a chic garden wedding in Italy, or a laid-back mountain wedding in California, one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a bride is choosing the perfect wedding dress.

Morgan in her custom wedding dress by the water
Morgan walking through an alley in her wedding gown

As a wedding dress designer, I understand the importance of wearing a dress that not only looks stunning but is also practical and comfortable for your wedding day. In this article, I’ll provide you with some tips and considerations to keep in mind when selecting your perfect destination wedding dress.

Choosing the Right Style of Dress for Your Big Day

Your dress can be any style or silhouette, from an ultra feminine, free-flowing boho beach wedding dress to a more formal ball gown. The most important thing is that the dress should flatter your body and fit the setting of the ceremony, whether it’s a tropical island wedding locale or a luxe winery in the countryside.

Chelsea's custom wedding dress on a hanger
Rachel's wedding dress on a hanger

Consider the Destination Climate

For the perfect beach wedding dress, you’ll want to choose lightweight, breezy fabrics that will keep you cool and comfortable in the sun. A dress made of fabrics such as soft tulle, chiffon or organza is a great option, as they are breathable, light-as-air and create effortless movement. 

Additionally, a short dress can be a perfect choice for beach weddings, as it won’t drag in the sand and will keep you cooler.

Rachel and Greg walking in Chicago
Chelse aposing in her wedding dress on a deck

Open back, backless, halter and off-the-shoulder wedding dresses work well for summer weddings or warmer climates. 

On the other hand, if you’re getting married in a colder climate, you’ll want to choose gown features that will keep you warm and cozy. A dress made of heavier fabrics such as velvet, satin, crepe or brocade will help keep you warm while still looking stylish. Long sleeves and higher necklines are also great options for winter weddings.

Consider the Overall Style and Theme of Your Wedding

Your dress should reflect the style and theme of your wedding. For example, if your theme is about beachy bohemian vibes, a dress with delicate floral lace and a tiered chiffon skirt will perfectly complement the relaxed, carefree atmosphere.

Beach wedding venue at Wrightsville Beach
Italian wedding venue and setting

Alternatively, if you’re having a more chic city wedding, a dress with clean lines and a sleek silhouette may be more appropriate. You may want to consider a wedding dress that makes a statement with a more minimalistic design, perhaps with a plunging neckline, strapless sweetheart neckline, high slit or interesting details that add some sparkle to your wedding look.

Consider Your Personal Bridal Style

Your wedding dress should reflect your own unique taste and personality, and make you feel like beautiful and confident bride on your big day.

Hannah in her custom wedding dress
Aleksa wearing her custom wedding dress from Angela Kim Couture

If you’re having an oceanfront ceremony, consider a bohemian-inspired dress with flowy fabrics and a relaxed silhouette. If your ceremony is a more formal or black-tie setting, consider a more traditional bridal gown with an a-line silhouette, intricate lace details and a long train.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident in your dress, and that it reflects your personal bridal style and the vision you have for your wedding day look.

Consider the Wedding Venue

Another factor to consider when selecting your wedding dress is the venue where the ceremony will take place.

Jessica and Trent at the Union Hotel wedding venue

If you’re having seaside nuptials, you might want to choose a simple wedding dress that’s practical for sand and surf. Look for dresses with ethereal, lightweight fabrics and features like a tulle skirt with a shorter hemline that won’t drag in the sand.

If your event will be held in a more formal venue, such as a hotel ballroom, you may want a gown with a longer train or more elaborate details like intricately beaded embroidery to fit the setting. Think about the overall aesthetic of your venue, and choose a dress that will complement it.

Consider Your Comfort

For your destination dress, comfort is key. It’s important to choose a dress that is not only stylish but also effortless to wear for several hours.

Consider a dress with a supportive bodice, as this will help you stay comfortable throughout the day. Also, consider the length and weight of the dress. A dress that is too heavy or too long may become uncomfortable over time, especially in warmer climates.

Jessica and Trent dancing
Morgan and Alec climbing stairs

When trying on dresses, pay attention to how they feel as well as how they look. Can you move easily in the dress? Does it feel too heavy or too tight in certain areas? If you’ll be doing a lot of walking or standing, consider a dress with a more comfortable heel height or even opting for flats.

Consider Your Travel Arrangements and Transporting the Dress

Getting your dress to the wedding location is one of the biggest challenges when planning a destination wedding. Whether you’re flying or driving, you’ll want a dress that is easy to handle and won’t wrinkle while traveling.

Maybe consider a simple silhouette that will pack more easily. A slinky sheath would work well.

You may also want to consider purchasing a special garment bag for your dress to help protect it during transport. If you’re flying, consider carrying it on the plane with you if possible.

Additional Tips for Choosing the Perfect Destination Wedding Dress

Morgan posing with her family
Jessica's wedding party at the Union Hotel

Be Open-Minded

Keep an open mind when you’re trying on dresses. This is the perfect opportunity to get inspired and try a style that you didn’t think would suit you — it might turn out to be the perfect dress for your Big Day.

Don’t Forget About Accessories

Don’t forget about accessories like shoes, jewelry, and veils. These can help tie your entire wedding look together and make your wedding dress even more special.

Don’t Forget the Groom’s Attire

When choosing your wedding dress, consider the style and color of your partner’s suit or tuxedo. You’ll want to make sure your outfits complement each other and look cohesive in photos.

Rachel and Greg posing on their Big Day
Morgan and Alec walking

Consider Your Budget

Destination weddings can be expensive, so it’s important to set a budget for your dress and stick to it. You don’t want to overspend on your dress and then not have enough money left for other important elements of your wedding.

I always recommend that a bride get the best wedding dress she can afford, keeping in mind that the best dress is the one that fits your body perfectly.

My Expert Advice

Choosing the perfect destination wedding dress is all about finding a balance between style and practicality. 

Morgan and Alec on a boat in Italy
Aleksa and Mike at the Biltmore Estate

But remember, the most important thing is that your wedding dress fits your body perfectly. When your dress fits perfectly, you’ll be the most comfortable. And to look and feel your best on your special day, you definitely need to be comfortable.

Consider Having Your Wedding Dress Custom Designed

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of finding the perfect destination wedding dress off the rack, consider working with a custom wedding dress designer who can help you create the perfect dress for your needs. They can provide guidance on the best fabrics and silhouettes for your destination, and help you create a a dream dress that fits your personal style and budget.

Custom wedding dress designer Angela Kim

Why trust Angela?

Angela Kim has worked in fashion internationally for over 20 years. She created Angela Kim Couture in 2017 and now specializes exclusively in custom wedding dress design.