Sunday, 29 January 2017 04:52

Packing Hacks for Destination Weddings

My friend Preeti got married in Bali a few years ago. It was just as her invitation promised: “lots of dancing and fun in an exotic location”. The scenery was picture perfect: a newly married couple in paradise dancing as if they didn’t have a care in the world.


A few months ago, when I was planning my own wedding, I happened to bump into Preeti rather unexpectedly. My other half and I were thinking about a destination wedding since our families live in different cities. A wedding mid way with our closest family and friends present seemed perfect. 


“What do you mean you haven’t got a packing list yet?” Preeti demanded when I told her of our plans.


That’s when I realized the most important rule of packing for a destination wedding: start early.

Travel In Style

I love how cool and collected celebs look when they travel. I always pack clothes that are comfortable and stylish just in case I can photo bomb a celeb. If you’re travelling by air, wear comfortable shoes: water retention can be your worst enemy. I swear that my feet swell - even on short-haul flights.

There are going to be lots of photos taken while you travel, it is your wedding after all. So remember to smile.

Wedding Dresses


Never, ever check in your wedding dress or his if you are flying. I remember a distressed bride-to-be in Delhi wailing that her suitcase with her lehenga and shoes had not arrived. Always carry your wedding dress, underwear, shoes, make-up and accessories in hand luggage. Jewellery and expensive items should always be in hand luggage. I take along sample sized perfumes and moisturizers when travelling - any liquid under 100 ml can be carried in hand luggage. If you are having a separate reception, do remember to pack your outfit with you. 

A tracksuit or a bathrobe is great for hanging out in while your hair and make up is done for your wedding/reception. There will be photos taken - so be warned! You can take more casual clothes if staying longer but do make sure that they are pretty - as you are the star of the show!



Keep your passport handy if travelling. If you are getting married in a different country, then check their marriage document requirement list as soon as possible. Different countries have different rules - did you know that the UK even has a separate visa for couples planning destination weddings?



Check with your doctor if you’re going overseas. It’s always better to get your medication locally - even if you are travelling within India. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you have enough lenses and solution. I hate coming down to the last strip and then realizing that I need to beg the optician for more asap.


Remember your charger and any wires you have. I’ve had trips where I’ve forgotten chargers for my phone or laptop. Now, I put all my wires in a mesh bag in my hand luggage. Mission accomplished!

Also, if you’re travelling overseas, an international adapter is invaluable. Some hotels do have them. But I was at a posh Australian hotel last year - with not a single international adapter to be found. So be warned.

Phew! That’s it from me. I am sure that you are probably a lot more organized than I am. I’m so glad that I got Preeti to help me, so I will let you know how things work out. In the meantime, plan early and enjoy one of the happiest days of your life!

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Our family friend’s daughter, Sharmista, was one of my mum’s favorites. Growing up, we’d always be told: “Arre, look how good she is at studies!” or “Why can’t you be more like her?” It was no surprise that Sharmista won a scholarship for Economics at an Ivy League university where she graduated top of her class for her bachelor's. 


Coming home one day after work a few years ago. I saw my mum was a little agitated after a phone call. “Can you believe that Sharmista?” she exclaimed, “Hai Ram! She has met an Italian boy in America and they are planning a wedding in Italy!”


Sharmista had met Antonio in the library while she was studying for a MPhil. Even Sharmista’s mother was surprised. Everyone had always thought that she’d opt for an arranged marriage - including Sharmista herself.


“I honestly didn’t expect it!” she confessed. He was a banker who had taken time off to do his masters. She was initially scared to tell her parents. But he won her over with his warmth and sense of humour (he proposed by singing her favourite Bollywood song and giving her a diamond ring). After she’d met his parents, she knew she couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. 


Antonio’s grandparents and extended family lived in Southern Italy, although he was born and brought up in California. So Italy it was - much to the excitement and shock for all of us it was.


Sharmista and Antonio knew that they wanted to have Italian elements in their wedding. In fact, it was the only thing that she fought with her mother about. 


It was a lovely Sunday morning in Naples when Sharmista stepped out looking radiant in a floaty white dress that looked like it was made for her.


Include local customs


“The fun started from the moment we left for the church,” she later said laughing. True to local tradition, Antonio carried a little iron with him to ward off the evil eye. 


The ceremony was beautiful in its simplicity. Strong drinks were served as the festivities started and even Sharmista’s mother (remember, she was one of the strict aunties) joined in dancing to the tarantella. Much to her mother’s horror, the groomsmen cut Antonio’s tie into little bits as it was traditionally given as payment to the band. She gave a sigh of relief as Sharmista whispered how much the tie actually cost.


What I loved about Sharmista’s wedding was that you don’t have spend a lot of money in incorporating local culture into a destination wedding. All you need is a local wedding planner or friends well versed in the local culture!



Sights, sounds and action!


Of course you can go all out like my friends Ayesha who got married in Bali last year and went all out with traditional performers which were stunning. She had a super-efficient wedding planner at the resort in Bali. 


All guests were taken sightseeing around the beautiful island and treated to local Balinese massages before the ceremony. I wasn’t able to make it to Ayesha’s wedding but I did notice local elements such as beautiful local orchids. 



Food fare


If you and your guests are gastronomically adventurous, you can go ahead opt for local food at your wedding. Ram, a former colleague of mine, got married in Kerala. He had elephants as part of the wedding procession and a beautiful spread of local fare for his guests (which they are still talking about!).


It doesn’t have to be a great feast. Two of my closest friends got married in New Zealand recently (they are huge Lord of the Rings fans). Budgets were tight on both sides. Close family and friends attended. They included local culture with an exquisite bottle of New Zealand wine. 


If you personally ask me, I’d secretly love something like Sharmista’s wedding. It should be fun and I’d love to include local culture to make it an occasion to remember. Now all I need is an Italian man!

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