If you're going to be flying with a wedding dress, you'll want to map out exactly how you're going to do that ahead of time—because it can get tricky. With full flights, cramped spaces, and grumpy passengers, you want to do everything in your power to make sure your dress gets from point A to point B in mint condition. If you're lucky, your airplane will have an on-board closet and accommodating flight attendants. If you're not, you might end up frantically trying to find room in an overhead compartment.
Here, expert tips on how to travel with a wedding dress stress-free.
1. Talk to Your Airline
Every airline (and airplane, for that matter) is different, so it's best to call the airline you'll be flying on to find out how they handle passengers with large-but-delicate items like a wedding dress. While they probably won't be able to make any guarantees, you'll at least get off the phone with more information about what to expect upon boarding.
2. Pack Up Your Wedding Dress in a Garment Bag With Care
Most wedding dresses have trains and many have lots of fabric, so gathering up your wedding dress neatly into a garment bag isn't necessarily an intuitive task. Here's how to pack up your wedding dress properly and avoid getting wrinkles in your dress during the flight. First, stick the hanger of the dress through the top of the garment bag and hang it up high so you can work with the wedding dress. Then, take the left side of the gown and the right side of the gown and fold them into each other toward the center. From there, take the bottom of the train and roll it up until the fabric is contained within the garment bag. Once inside, it's time to zip it up—carefully. Whenever you zip up a garment bag with delicate fabric inside, make sure to place a finger on the other side of the zipper as you guide it up so that the dress doesn't get caught in its tongs.
3. Fly First Class or Purchase Priority Boarding
The early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, a better shot at scoring a coveted spot in the front closet of the airplane. Bridal designer Lela Rose urges brides to splurge on priority boarding for this reason alone. "Then, tell your seatmates not to let you forget your dress." While there are no guarantees, most flight attendants will do their best to help you out if they know you're bringing your wedding gown on board.
We recommend calling ahead to confirm that your airplane actually has a front closet, as not all do.
4. Or, Place Your Garment in an Overhead Bin
Alternately, you may have to place your garment bag in an overhead compartment. If that's the case, you'll need to fold up the garment bag or roll it up, depending on how much space is available. If you need to roll it, roll it beginning with the hanger. Another option for overhead compartments is to lay the dress out flat on top of other passengers' luggage, which is, again, completely dependent on space and the size of their luggage.
5. Make Sure Your Wedding Gown Fits Your Airline's Carry-On Requirements
No one wants to end up with their wedding dress being whisked away to checked luggage, where who knows what might happen to it. It's essential to verify that you'll even be allowed to bring your wedding dress as a carry-on—double check the weight and size rules for your airline to avoid a potential disaster at the gate.
6. Purchase a Plane Ticket for Your Dress
Yep, you read that right. One way to put your wedding dress on a plane is with its very own ticket. According to Sally Conant, executive director of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, there are brides who literally buy a seat for their wedding dress to ensure it stays in tip-top shape throughout the flight. If you've got money to spare and want to play it super safe, book your dress a one-way ticket to your wedding destination—that way it'll never leave your sight. As an added bonus, if your dress has its own ticket, it will also have its own carry-on—which might come in handy if you're also bringing a petticoat or a cathedral-length veil.
7. See If There Are Any Available Seats for Your Wedding Dress
You may not be willing to buy your dress its own seat, but if your flight isn't full, why not ask if there are any open seats you can put it in (for free, of course)? Chances are, someone will either be willing to swap with you so you can sit next to the dress or a nice flight attendant can help move you around to make it work.
8. Don't Forget to Pack a Portable Steamer
Trust us, you'll want a steamer (and an adapter, too, if you're getting married overseas). To guard against water spots, Conant advises putting a towel or even a cotton sock over the head of your steamer. Now you know everything you need to know about how to fly with a wedding dress.