How to fly with your wedding dress

How to fly with your wedding dress

Whether you’ve always dreamed of a destination wedding on a tropical island, or you’ve agreed to have the ceremony a few states over so Great-Grandma can attend, you won’t be traveling alone. In addition to your spouse-to-be, you’ll also be traveling with another close friend–your wedding gown!

Opinions vary on the best way to get your dress from its starting point to its debut at your ceremony, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll need to transport the dress somehow. If you’re flying to your wedding, your wedding gown is too. Make sure it gets there ready for its time in the spotlight by using the following tips.

Choose Your Airplane

While this is a luxury most of us don’t have every time we fly, there are times when you can plan a flight route around major cities and you can be assured of using only large airplanes. Look for airplanes with at least two aisles if possible, as these provide a better chance than one-aisle airplanes of having a garment closet you can use. Also, choose your airline carefully; JetBlue airlines, for example, has no closets or space to hang garment bags on any of its aircrafts.

Before you buy your tickets, call the airline directly and ask about onboard garment storage space. Not only will a live representative be able to steer you in the right direction, but airline regulations change often and you’ll be assured of having the most up-to-date information. No one wants to arrive with a wedding dress under one arm only to be told it has to be balled up and stowed under the plane!

Be sure to ask about the airline’s carry-on policy. If your garment bag will count as your sole carry-on item, you may need to fill your pockets with your necessities and forgo the purse. (Most airlines will allow you to carry additional bags for a fee, however.)

Be a Model Traveler

If you want your wedding dress to have the best possible travel experience, you’ll have to plan everything flawlessly in advance. Book your flight as far ahead of time as possible so you can choose seats that are near the garment closets. The area behind the last row of first class passengers is also sometimes available for hanging garments, but you’ll have to depend on the kindness of your flight attendant if you’re not sitting in first class yourself. 

Find out which rows of seats are called to board first, and try to book a seat in that area of the plane. The earlier you board, the better chance you have of finding a nice, roomy place to store your dress. Some airlines offer Priority Boarding for a small fee, which allows you to board after first class but before coach passengers. If you can get a first class ticket, so much the better. This is one time where splurging on the niceties is the most practical route, as well. 

Plan your flight for a time that is less likely to be crowded. The fewer people sharing your flight, the more room there will be for luggage. Flights during the middle of the week are usually less popular than weekend flights. Call the airline and ask what flights to your destination generally have empty seats. You may want to consider flying to a nearby city and renting a car for the rest of the journey.

Be very nice to the flight attendants. If you can forge a sympathetic relationship with the airline staff, they may be willing to go out of their way to help you find a safe spot for your dress. This is especially true for flight attendants who are planning or who have recently had their own wedding–while there’s nothing you can do to seek out this lucky coincidence, look for a gleam in their eyes if they notice your special luggage and congratulate you. Ask them about their own nuptials. If there’s space to be had onboard, you can claim it with their help.

Buy an Extra Seat

No, it’s not as strange as it sounds. Buying extra seats is fairly common. Musicians with large instruments and people with medical equipment, as well as larger passengers who don’t want to feel squished on tiny planes, often purchase two seats next to each other so they can flip up the armrest and enjoy a little more breathability. You can get your gown its own seat to ensure it has a safe flight and arrives un-squished.

Most major airlines will allow you to purchase a second seat under the same price as your original seat. Call the airline to make sure your order goes through correctly. Don’t just book the seat under a false name and claim that the passenger “didn’t show up.” In addition to being risky in terms of fraud, you also chance losing the paid-for seat if the flight is overbooked and there are passengers on standby.

Don’t Risk the Flight

If you’re very concerned that your dress could be ruined on an airline flight, it may be better to skip the flight entirely. Buy a plane ticket for yourself and ship the dress, well insured and with clear tracking information, to your destination. Make sure there is someone waiting who can sign for the package when it arrives, if you won’t be there yourself. Most hotels and destination wedding venues are more than happy to offer this service.

Whether you’re traveling by plane or you’re using a shipping company, the safest bet is to get a professional to pack your dress for its voyage. Ask the store where you bought the gown if they provide this service or if they can recommend someone in your area. A professionally packed dress will arrive fresh, pristine, and ready for the spotlight–in fact, if your flight is overly long, you’ll wish you could say the same for yourself!