How to Travel with Your Wedding Dress - Destination Weddings Tips
Don't put it off! You definitely want to think ahead about your options for packing and traveling with your wedding gown to your destination wedding location so it arrives in the best possible condition, on time. We cover the packing, shipping, flying, and other modes of transport in this blog piece.
Shipping Your Wedding Gown
While you can ship your gown with a reputable company, tracking, and insurance, there are factors to consider. Should your gown be lost in transit, delayed, damaged, or lost upon arrival, what would you do? If it's damaged and you recoup the cost, you still have a damaged dress. If it's delayed or lost, you may not have any dress at all on your wedding day.
Flying With Your Wedding Gown
Perhaps flying with your gown instead of shipping is your best option. In which case, you have four choices to consider: purchase an extra seat, checked baggage, a suit closet, and the carry-on option to be stored in the overhead bin that we'll discuss below. But first, you should contact your airline to ask about their policies and the plane itself.
1. Suit Closets & Empty Seats On Board
If they offer a closet, or you ask for one when you step on the plane, you might just get very lucky. Usually, flight attendants will be gracious and supportive of your needs for your special carry-on and transatlantic planes often have closets to hang suits and wedding dresses. Likewise, you might be lucky enough to get a flight attendant to allow you to lay your gown on an empty seat. You might get the staff and others flying to be kind enough to let you exchange seats to be next to your dress too.
Mind you, if you call ahead and they assure you there will be a closet you can use to hang your dress, there may be a change in airplanes last minute to where a closet won't be available, or someone's stroller or wheelchair that ends up taking priority over the closet space, so a backup plan is ideal.
2. Your Wedding Gown As Checked Baggage
This might seem ideal, but it can be traumatic if your checked bags are lost or delayed or if something devastating should happen while at the mercy of baggage handlers. You can buy another toothbrush, but will you get your gown in one piece and on time? If you do choose this option, you can find a great tutorial online for packing your wedding gown to be checked baggage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsuve7tfqzs by designer Luly Yang.
It's best to pack only your gown, inside a plastic bag like you would get from the dry cleaner and nothing else in the piece of luggage. This gives it plenty of air and no chance of spills from inside your own bag. Even so, be sure to tie or tape the ends of the plastic bag. Don't forget to clearly label your suitcase with information like your name, email, home and destination addresses and phone numbers for both home and while away.
3. Storing Your Gown In Overhead Compartments
Follow your airline's guidelines for the size of luggage allowed in overhead bins, and realize some international and transatlantic planes have smaller overhead compartments. Fly first class or purchase priority boarding, or at the very least get there as early as you can, because there's no guarantee there will be adequate room if you delay. Ask the gate agent if they have staff that will take your gown onto the plane early to put in the overhead compartment.
Follow this tutorial by designer Luly Yang on how best to pack your wedding gown for carry-on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YiKrO2ORBQ and, just like packing for checked baggage, be sure you put only your gown in this carry-on suitcase or box, tied or taped inside a plastic bag. Do not put anything heavy on top of it while it's in the overhead bin. Clearly label your suitcase, garment bag, or box with information like your name, email, home and destination addresses, and phone numbers for both home and while away.
4. Purchasing An Extra Seat For Your Wedding Gown
This might just be your ideal solution if you're very worried about the others. Sure, you will pay for an extra one-way seat on your flight, but your wedding gown will have its own seat to hang on and you have a bit more control. Be sure your gown is in a (waterproof if possible) garment bag that you'll bring on the plane folded or rolled, but you'll unroll it to lay over the seat. Should you roll your garment bag, start at the hanger and work your way down.
A Few More Tips For Taking Your Wedding Gown On Boats, Cars, & Trains
1. Transporting Your Wedding Gown By Car
If driving to another country, or even just taking a car from the airport or station, you'll want to continue to give priority to the care and handling of your precious cargo when loading, unloading, and during the drive. Follow directions above for the packing of your wedding gown first.
The suitcase, garment bag, or box should not have anything heavy set on top of it in the car. If possible, lay the garment bag out as flat as you can in the car or hang from a hook. When loading or unloading, be vigilant so it's not stolen from your pile of luggage, dropped, crushed under something, caught in a trolly wheel, etc.
2. Transporting Your Wedding Gown By Train Or Boat
Again, you'll want to give priority to the care and handling of your precious cargo when loading, unloading, and during the trip on a train, ferry, or cruise ship. If you do not have your own cabin in a train or on the ferry, keep a vigilant eye on your dress so it's not stolen, crushed, spilled on, or lost. Otherwise, and especially a cruise ship or an overnight train, you'll have more space to lay your garment bag out as flat as you can, or hang in a closet.
So that covers pretty much everything! Oh, but two more things to note across the board:
1. If you're indeed packing in a suitcase or box, don't be afraid to stuff every inch you can with an acid-free tissue paper or plastic dry cleaner bags so the gown will retain its shape and resist severe fold marks and wrinkles during its trip.
2. Leave your wedding gown hanging and don't pack it until the absolute last minute instead of in advance to help prevent wrinkles and severe fold marks from settling in!