Flying with Your Wedding Dress

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 3.08.33 PMEarlier this week my incredibly organized client, Samantha, sent me photos of her trying on her wedding gown for the first time.  She is going to be a stunning bride!  I can’t wait to post pictures of her in it, but you will have to patiently wait until May to see just how gorgeous she is.  (Her mother and I are both thankful that we won’t have any sleepless nights wondering whether or not her dress will arrive in time!)

Seeing Samantha in her gown got me thinking about my own wedding dress experience.  Even though I wan’t getting married in Raleigh, I decided to purchase my dress here because it would be impossible for me to go back and forth between North Carolina and Indiana for all of the fittings.  However, this meant I would have to bring my dress with me on the plane, and the experience was more nerve-racking than I anticipated.  If you will be flying with your wedding dress, here are my suggestions for making your trip less stressful than mine.

  • Contact the Airline BEFORE You Purchase Your Ticket.  Find out if the plane on the flight you want to take has a closet for hanging luggage.  I had a choice between Delta and Southwest Airlines and went with Southwest because it was cheaper. BIG MISTAKE!  It turns out that Southwest doesn’t have hanging closets on any of its planes.  The flight attendants told me I would have to put my dress in the overhead compartment, and they couldn’t promise that no one else would put their baggage on top of it.  They also refused to help me lift it over my head into the luggage compartment claiming that they were not allowed to handle my dress.  Thank goodness for the kindness of my fellow passengers who assisted me and made sure no one put their bags on top of my gown.  Paying slightly more to fly Delta, which has hanging closets, would have been well worth the money.
  • While Trying on Dresses, Ask Yourself, “Can I carry this for long periods of time?”  My wedding gown had tons of ruffles and a long train.  In other words, it was heavy. When trying it on, I was confident that I’d be able to wear it down the aisle and dance in it all night with no problems.  It never occurred to me that I’d have to carry it through long TSA lines and airport concourses that stretch out for miles.  Since I was arriving in Indiana a week ahead of my fiancé, I was flying solo and had no one to help me carry it or stay with it when I wanted to get Starbucks or needed to use the restroom.  A dress with less material would have made my trip a lot less stressful.
  • Enroll in TSA Pre-Check.  After completing an online form (, a short wait at a TSA Pre-Check facility, a payment of $75, and a 5 day waiting period, you will breeze through the airport security line stress free without having to struggle with your shoes, belts, jewelry, computer, and cosmetics all while trying to keep a cautious eye on your wedding gown.  If your dress is large and heavy, you will be especially glad that you don’t have to wait in the long lines with everyone else.
  • Find a Reputable Vendor to Steam Your Dress.  No matter how careful you are, your wedding dress will need some TLC when you arrive at your final destination.  Make an appointment at least one month in advance with a reputable tailor or formal wear shop to steam your wedding gown.  I called a local wedding dress shop and asked them to recommend vendors that they trusted to steam their customers’ dresses.
  • How Will You Get Your Dress Back Home? Are you leaving for your honeymoon immediately after your wedding?  Chances are you won’t want to take your wedding dress with you.  Make plans in advance with a family member or friend who will either have room in their car or be willing to fly back home with it.  Thankfully my parents were able to take it home with them.
  • Maybe Buying a Ticket for Your Dress Isn’t So Crazy.  I had heard stories of brides who bought their wedding gown its own seat on the plane.  At the time I thought this was absurd, but after my own experience flying with my wedding dress, I definitely understand why some brides decide to go this route.  Your wedding gown is an investment of time, money and emotion that just might be worth insuring for the price of a plane ticket.