A lot goes into destination weddings. On top of all of the standard wedding checklist to-dos, there’s that whole distance factor to contend with. And, if your destination wedding requires a flight to your wedding location, things get a little more challenging, especially for your wedding dress or suit. Get those prized wedding attire pieces from the airport to the altar with these tips for how to fly with your wedding clothes.
Give your chosen airline a call—ideally, weeks, if not months, before you plan to travel to your wedding destination. Each company has its own carry-on and checked baggage rules that will impact your plans to fly with your wedding attire. Most airlines allow you to travel with soft-sided garment bags so you can store your suit or dress. This will likely count as your carry-on, but you probably already prepared to pay a bit extra for more baggage. That said, we do not recommend checking your wedding attire. Anyone who’s lost a suitcase full of their regular day-to-day duds knows that finding missing luggage can be a nightmare. Just imagine if it was your wedding dress. Don’t do it.
If your airline knows you’re flying to your destination wedding, sometimes you may get lucky and awarded an upgrade. If not, though, it may be worth it to pay extra to upgrade yourself. First or business class comes with a number of benefits, including more space. However, if those tickets are too expensive—it can really add up—consider at least paying extra for priority boarding. Here’s why: It’s significantly less expensive than a full seat upgrade, but you’ll have first access to the overhead bins and can space your belongings out, as necessary.
We recommend asking the flight attendants for help. If you let them know this is your wedding dress or suit and accessories, they’ll be more inclined to help you find the appropriate space. Some will even allow you to hang your dress or suit in the closet on the airline.
If your dress is of the puffier variety (of if you just don’t want it stuffed into an overhead bin), buy a seat for it. Yes, seriously. It’s not the cheapest option but ensuring your dress arrives unmangled or smashed seems priceless to us. The same goes for suits and tuxedos—don’t ball it into the overhead bin. Give your attire room to breathe and enjoy the window views.
If you missed the boat on buying your dress a seat, or simply don’t want to spend the money, find out if there are any empty seats available. If the flight isn’t completely booked, chances are a flight attendant will offer you an available spot for the outfit.
None of these destination wedding travel tips will work without a proper garment bag. It’s simply a must. Needless to say: Do not fold your wedding dress or tuxedo. Garment bags are particularly useful for your suit or tux. The key is to wash and iron it before you put it into the bag. This will make it so you only really have to touch it up with a quick iron or steam once you reach your hotel room.
Check that all zippers and buttons are in working order before you pack it up too. This way, you won’t need to make last-minute alterations. To maintain the shape of your suit, stuff the arms with tissue paper. Make it white tissue paper so that it doesn’t bleed onto your outfit. This can help prevent wrinkles.
In the same garment bag, you can also pack a veil, if necessary. If it’s packaged, open it a few days prior to travel so that it can naturally loosen. Hang it as you would in your closet, ideally in some sort of plastic covering. This will help protect it against snags or tears.
You can pack most of your other accessories—shoes, jewelry, ties, pocket squares, etc.—as you normally would for any trip. We still recommend carrying these items on and not checking them! For shoes, place the soles flat against the back wall of your suitcase, ideally in-line with the wheels. This will help keep them in shape during and bumps in travel. If your shoes are embellished with stones or pearls, wrap each shoe individually in bubble wrap. Do the same for any other embellished pieces, such as a tiara or hair comb.
For jewelry, we recommend organizing it in a dedicated travel case designed for delicate items. This will keep necklaces and bracelets tangle-free and also ensure earrings don’t get lost or break. If you don’t have a jewelry-specific bag, wrap each piece in a microfiber cloth. This will help prevent scratching.
Your hotel or other accommodations will have an iron for any suit touch-ups. But don’t forget a steamer for your dress, veil, and any other wedding party outfits that may end up wrinkled post-travel. If you’re getting married abroad, an adapter is also a must.
You planned an entire destination wedding—don’t let getting your wedding attire to the location stress you out. Pack your things with care, let any airlines and attendants know what’s up, and you’ll be just fine. And don’t check anything!