Wondering how to travel with a wedding dress? Yikes! Traveling with your wedding dress can be an overwhelming task, one that is often not even properly thought about till the last minute.
We recently traveled with a wedding dress to get married in Colorado and then for a bigger ceremony in Africa so we know a thing or two about traveling with a dress. Actually, we didn’t stop there, we took photos with our dress around the globe.
Why travel with your wedding dress, you ask? Well, if you’re planning a destination wedding in a picturesque location, it’s only fitting that you take your beautiful dress along with you.
A near 25% of weddings in the US (350,000) every year are destination weddings.
However, the challenges of traveling with a wedding dress can often be overwhelming for any bride. That’s why it’s important to prepare well in advance. Take the time to research airline restrictions, select the right garment bag, and request any additional allowances from your airline.
Trust us, you don’t want to be in for a rude awakening when you’re standing at the check-in desk 24 hours before your flight. So, sit back, relax, and read our tips on how to ensure smooth sailing for your dress on your big day.
Keep reading for our comprehensive guide for flying with your wedding dress stress-free.
How to Travel With A Wedding Dress: 5 Tips when Flying with a Wedding Dress
1. Choose the Right Garment Bag For taking a Wedding Dress on the Plane
So, you’ve found the perfect dress for your destination wedding. Congratulations! But now comes the tricky part: getting it to your venue in one piece. The key to a successful journey with your dress is finding the right garment bag.
Selecting the right garment bag for your dress is crucial. It must be sturdy enough to protect the fabric while being carried around, in transit and also being checked-in. Always look for bags that have padded interiors to avoid any damage to the dress while traveling.
Tips to choose the right garment bag include scouting for bags that offer ample space for the dress, along with additional compartments to store accessories like your veil or jewelry.
Ensure the zipper of the garment bag is sturdy and high quality. Don’t be tempted to skimp on buying a cheaper bag, as it could wind up costing you much more in repairs or replacement.
Where to buy Wedding dress Garment Bags?
When it comes to garment bag options, the market has a lot to offer. You can find a range of garment bags here.
You can choose between convertible garment bags that double as duffels, bags with built-in humidifiers, or even carry-on garment bag options for a quick pre-wedding touch-up. However, be mindful of the pros and cons of the different garment bags options before making your final decision.
Remember, traveling with a wedding dress doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing experience. Choose the right garment bag, and you’ll be one step closer to making this journey hassle-free!
Need a tip? This is a great quality garment bag we would recommend. Here are some others to consider:
Check out this wedding gown garment bag on Amazon. It features durable zippers that operate smoothly and two sturdy handles on the back. It can be easily folded and hung on a hanger, making it ideal for both transportation and closet storage while traveling.
This top-rate travel bag by Sleeping Lamb is designed with two additional mesh pockets to conveniently store various accessories such as shoes, wedding veils, pins, hats, toiletries, and more. It saves time when searching for matching items.
This trifold wardrobe bag is lightweight and easy to carry with handles on both ends, making it perfect for travel, camping, and hanging in your closet. The smooth zipper ensures easy closure and the transparent PVC pouch allows for easy labeling and identification of your dresses without the need to open the bag.
2. Check airline weight limits
One important thing to do is to check airline weight limits to make sure you have enough weight to bring your dress (as well as all other luggage you have!!) with you.
You also need to make the decision about whether you are going to check your wedding dress underneath or bring it on the plane in carry on luggage. We chose to bring it on in our carry on luggage as we have had checked in luggage go missing before.
Wedding dresses plus all your accessories and a suit for your man will likely weigh 22 lb (10 kg) if you have a large dress.
Traveling with a wedding dress can be stressful, especially when it comes to fitting it into the limited overhead storage space on board.
To avoid any mishaps, it’s important to check the weight limits of the airline and if carry on luggage is not enough, buy extra.
Tip – Consider how much it is to upgrade to business class vs paying for the extra luggage! It is your wedding afterall so you deserve to travel in style!
Make sure to pack efficiently, opting for a garment bag that is compact enough to be stowed easily. Consider materials that add extra protection to your dress, like foam padding or acid-free tissue paper.
But it’s not just about stowing your dress in the closet. You may also require access to a steamer upon arrival, especially if your dress is made from delicate fabric. So, make sure to ask your hotel in advance or pack your own travel steamer.
With a little bit of preparation, you can keep your dress safe and wrinkle-free on its journey to your dream destination.
Airline Baggage Policies
For the common airlines, we looked into their most up-to-date policies and what you should expect when traveling with your wedding dress.
Your bridal party or a wedding guest may be able to help you with this by pooling luggage. My parents, sister and her partner gave me some of their allowance/carried a bag for me.
Allows one free checked bag for economy class passengers and two free checked bags for first class and business class passengers.
The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions. The maximum weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For a wedding dress, Delta Air Lines recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Allows two free checked bags for all passengers. The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions.
The maximum weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For a wedding dress, Southwest Airlines recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Allows two free checked bags for economy class passengers and three free checked bags for first class and business class passengers.
The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions. The maximum weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For a wedding dress, American Airlines recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Allows two free checked bags for economy class passengers and three free checked bags for first class and business class passengers.
The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions. The maximum weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For a wedding dress, United Airlines recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Allows one free checked bag for economy class passengers and two free checked bags for premium economy, business class, and first class passengers.
The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions. The maximum weight for a checked bag is 70 pounds (32 kg). For a wedding dress, Virgin Atlantic recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Allows one free checked bag for all passengers. The maximum size for a checked bag is 62 inches (158 cm) in total dimensions. The maximum weight for a checked bag is 50 pounds (23 kg). For a wedding dress, JetBlue Airways recommends that you pack it in a garment bag and check it as a regular bag.
Overall, Delta, Southwest, American and Virgin Atlantic seem to offer the best options for traveling with a wedding dress, as they allow you to check the dress for free if it won’t fit as a carry-on.
3. Work out how you are going to protect your dress in transit
As much as we’d like air travel to be effortless, the reality is that your wedding dress, love it as you might, is just another piece of luggage to the airline.
Fortunately, with some preparation and foresight, you can protect your dress and ensure it arrives at your destination unscathed.
What bag are you going to bring your dress in?
A large case suitcase will provide the most protection for your dress but it will also add the most weight to your luggage.
If you are going to check your dress underneath, you will definitely want a sturdy suitcase to protect the dress in transit.
If you plan on bringing the dress on the plane with you, I think this is less important.
I used a light high quality duffel bag like this one, I put my dress in the garmet bag then I rolled the dress to make it as small as possible. Keep in mind my dress was a big princess dress so it was still pretty huge even rolled.
It was a little crinkly when it arrived but it was nothing a steamer couldn’t fix!
Packing materials to add extra protection
As we have mentioned above, invest in a good quality garment bag that’s designed to protect delicate fabrics. It should have a padded, sturdy construction and be the correct size for your dress.
Stuffing tissue paper in the bodice and sleeves can help prevent creases, scratches, and wrinkles. Consider adding foam padding around the hemline of the dress to ensure that the dress shape and length remain intact while traveling.
4. Ask the flight attendants if they can place your dress in the onboard closet
While you may want to keep your dress with you, placing it in an overhead bin or under your seat can be risky, particularly if you’re headed to a crowded destination.
We did place ours in the overhead compartment and it was totally fine BUT it is even better if the flight attendants can store it for you for better protection.
Ask the flight attendants if they can place your dress in the onboard closet. You can also request them to set a priority tag on your garment bag to ensure it’s one of the first items off the aircraft when you arrive.
5. Should You Ship your Wedding Dress?
Provided you don’t have to pay for extra luggage, traveling on the airplane only costs you the price of the garment bag. Around $50 is easier to budget for than a usual $150-$300 price tag of shipping it straight to your venue.This includes the insurance, and fragile care.
Plus the wracking feeling that you are leaving your wedding dress out of your sight and in the hands of some delivery workers.
If you chose to ship your dress, here are a few quick tips. It’s important to document the condition of your dress before shipping, so take pictures and videos from every angle. Be sure to zip or button up the back of your dress to prevent bunching, but avoid bustling it.
When folding your gown, flip it inside out if it’s a simple design without embellishments. Place acid-free tissue paper between the folds to prevent creasing and snagging.
Finally, protect your gown by placing it in a plastic garment bag or a plastic bag if you don’t have one. Remember to keep all of these steps in mind for liability purposes.
Arriving at Your Destination with a Flawless Dress
Congratulations, you’ve arrived at your destination! The only thing left to do is to ensure that your wedding dress looks perfect for the big day.
First things first, locate a reputable dry cleaner that specializes in wedding dresses in case your dress requires last-minute cleaning or pressing. Don’t forget to check with your hotel; some offer on-site dry cleaning services. Our hotel in Africa did this for us.
To ensure your dress looks perfect, hang it up as soon as you arrive in your hotel room. Make sure the hanger is sturdy enough to support the weight of your dress.
If you aren’t going to use a dry cleaner, steam your dress by asking for an iron and ironing board from the hotel, or bring your travel steamer. If you’re in a rush or don’t want to risk damaging your dress with an iron, consider hanging your dress in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to let the steam do the work.
Finally, place your dress in a location where it won’t be disturbed. Avoid hanging it near windows or air conditioning units that could expose it to sunlight or moisture. Double check that you zip up and secure your garment bag to protect your dress from any unwanted exposure.
Voila! You’ve made it to your destination, and your dress looks as flawless as you do.
What to do in case of damage?
Unfortunately, sometimes, despite our best efforts, dresses can still be damaged during your travels. If you notice any damage once you arrive at your destination, take photos immediately and file a claim with the airline right away.
If the damage is not fixable, immediately locate a nearby reputable dry cleaner or tailor to assess what can be done before the wedding day. Always remember that your dress is replaceable, but the moments, memories, and love shared on your wedding day are irreplaceable.
Handling Dress Emergencies Abroad
When it comes to weddings, anything can happen. It is better to be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to your dress.
Do this by packing an emergency sewing kit that can handle last-minute developments, such as a rip or tear. Consider adding supplies like needles, thread, safety pins, and fabric tape. The venue, hotel, or resort you are staying in, will have an onsite tailor that can fix mini-emergencies for you.
For common dress issues, such as wrinkles or stains, have some quick fixes up your sleeve, like using a travel steamer or spot cleaner. And don’t hesitate to reach out to a local tailor for more significant issues. Navigate any issues with a level head, and enjoy your big day knowing you’re prepared for anything.
It’s Ok to Ask For Help!
When traveling, it is acceptable to request additional assistance. If you feel uneasy about your dress going through the x-ray machine at security, you can ask a TSA agent if there is an alternative way to scan it.
Similarly, if you become anxious during your flight about your dress being stored in the closet, it is perfectly fine to approach a flight attendant and kindly inquire about checking on your stunning wedding gown.
Wedding Dress Travel can be Tough but It’s worth it!
It’s your big day and you want to ensure that your dress is in perfect shape. Preparing for your destination wedding involves some planning to help you travel without any stress and enjoy a flawless event.
Always prepare well before the trip, from selecting the right garment bag to protecting your dress during transit. Additionally, it’s essential to stow your dress securely on-board.
Upon arriving at your destination, making sure your dress stays picture-perfect. Lastly, be sure to plan for unexpected dress emergencies and source the best local tailor. Follow these tips, and you will surely have the best trip of your life!
P.S. With all this worry about your dress, don’t forget the wedding rings!
If you have any tips on how to fly with a wedding dress, we would love to hear from you so leave a comment below!