Have you ever thought about what it would be like to travel with your wedding dress?
Many brides do not have to conquer this hurdle in the process of wedding planning, but others do. Whether you're traveling with it because you're having a destination wedding, are stuck taking it with you on your honeymoon, or whatever other reason you might have, traveling with your dress can be intimidating. I know. I traveled with mine from California (where I purchased it with my mom and sister) to Tennessee (where I was living, got it altered, and got married.)
Here are some of the things I learned while traveling with my wedding dress:
Make sure that the airline you plan to travel with will allow you to bring your dress on as a carry on item.
You really don't want to leave your dress at the mercy of the baggage handlers that handle all of the luggage underneath the plane. Most airlines do their best to accommodate brides with wedding gowns. I was able to travel with mine in its garment bag and the stewardess hung it in the plane's coat closet. Worst case scenario, either change airlines or buy a hard-cased suitcase that's the largest size the airline will allow for a carry on and delicately pack your dress inside. Remember: It will be counted as a carry on item.
Give yourself extra time for security screening.
Some airports may require you to unpack the dress during the security screening. Allow yourself extra time at the airport, just in case.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your dress lightly steamed before your wedding.
If you're traveling for a destination wedding, give yourself time (and pre-book) to get yourself to a dry cleaners or bring a travel steamer with you. Your dress will likely get at least a little wrinkled and you don't want those wrinkles to show up on your wedding day!
Protect the dress!
I was fortunate and able to travel with my dress in a garment bag. However, airports are busy and I didn't want any accidents to happen. The night before I left, my mom and I took large trash bags and gently slipped one over the top of my dress, one over the bottom, and cut holes on either side of a third trash bag so that it could slip up and cover the middle section (we taped it in place.) This way, even if someone bumped into me with a liquid, the dress would stay protected.
Be polite yet assertive.
I let the airport personnel at each of my gates (I had layovers) know when I had arrived and about my dress situation. I also asked, very politely, if I could board early so that I could speak with the flight attendant about hanging my dress or find and overhead compartment where it wouldn't get damaged. I found that everyone was very polite (even though I got some strange looks) and that this method went over much better than surprising people with my large dress bag as I was boarding. Give them time to help you.
Remember, the way airlines handle situations like this is always changing. Be sure to check with your airline and determine the best course of action. Wedding insurance or even, I know I sound crazy, buying a seat for your wedding dress, are always options that may be worth considering over the cost of potentially damaging or loosing your dress.
Have you ever traveled with your wedding dress?