Holy Moly Matrimony: Getting the Dress to the Destination

In hindsight, one of the biggest benefits of deciding to have our destination wedding in Las Vegas was our ability to drive there from Los Angeles. Everything—from centerpieces to parent gifts to favors to hair accessories—was simply packed and organized in the car. We didn’t have to worry about carry-on sizes or weight restrictions or checked luggage fees. The most we had to think about was making sure that my dress was laid carefully, horizontally across the back seat.

It wasn’t until after the wedding, when I was standing in my bathtub, dunking the bottom six inches of my dirty wedding dress in scalding hot water, that I realized it wasn’t going to be as easy to get the dress to Milwaukee. We did the WI->CA drive in July, and we have no plans to ever do it again in reverse. The dress was going to travel by plane.

So here are my tips and suggestions for flying with a wedding dress.


My dress, post- dunk in the bathtub and pre- plane ride

Tip #1: Don’t fly with it.

OK, I know that this tip is kind of cheating. However, if you are flexible with your timeline, shipping your dress UPS or FedEx (or even USPS) can be a great option for the destination bride. Wedding dresses are successfully shipped every day; after all, they need to travel from the designer to the bridal shop! Just make sure you package it properly, ensure it for its full replacement value, and add on tracking and signature confirmation.

You can even arrange in some cities to have your dress shipped directly to a service that will steam and deliver your dress. One such service in Las Vegas that always gets rave reviews on wedding forums is Fit For A Bride.

Tip #2: Choose your gown wisely.

A destination wedding might not be the right event for a huge ballgown with layers of crinoline and a 10-foot train. You want to find your dream gown, but you need to be realistic about how your dress is going to fit into your destination wedding—and how it’s going to fit into your luggage. For example, one friend who was married in the Dominican Republic chose a slinky dress because it would look beautiful on the beach and fold nicely into her carry-on luggage.

Tip #3: Be nice to the flight attendants.

This should go without saying! The flight attendants will be much more likely to accommodate you and help you find the right space for your garment bag—perhaps even in the coveted coat closet—if you are polite and respectful.

Tip #4: Board the plane early.

The more people get on the plane, the less space there is for luggage. Whether your dress is in a garment bag or in a carry-on suitcase, you want to make sure that there is going to be room for it! There are a few ways you can make sure that you board the plane early. First, you can get a seat in first or business class. Second, you can upgrade to priority boarding. Third, you can try to get a seat in the back of the plane, as most airlines board in coach from back to front. Fourth, you can fly Southwest and make sure that you are checking-in exactly 24 hours before your flight.

Tip #5: Buy a seat for the dress.

This may not be in the budget—especially with the price of airfare nowadays—but one pricey but fail-proof method of transporting your dress is to buy it a seat on the airplane. Musicians do this for their instruments; brides can do this for their dresses. Your dress will probably only need a one-way ticket. You can shove it (albeit gently) into checked luggage on your way home.

Tip #6: Pick the right flight.

This tip requires some luck. You want to find a flight on a plane that is large enough to have plenty of overhead space. You also want to find a flight on a plane that is not oversold. So you need the magic combination of popular route plus unpopular time/day.

Mr. Mole and I had the magic on the morning we left Los Angeles. We were on an early morning flight from LAX to MKE, and we had paid an extra $20 to board early. We soon realized that it didn’t matter how early we boarded, though, since our flight was only half full! We were able to claim an entire overhead compartment for the dress.



Nothing says newlyweds like separate rows, eh?

In the end, there was only one hitch on the journey. After clearing security, the hanger that was holding my dress in the garment bag snapped into two pieces. Mr. Mole was able to sweet-talk a replacement hanger from one of the gift shops. (Somewhere, a Los Angeles sweatshirt is crumpled on the floor.)

The dress made it to Milwaukee safe and sound. Dress in hand, we left the airport, had a delicious lunch at Classic Slice, and checked into our hotel. The second stop on the Mole Wedding Tour 2012 was about to begin!

Did you miss a Mole recap?


Mrs. Mole

Los Angeles/Las Vegas
Wedding Date:
January 2012
Blue Shoes...the Quest!
The Five-Shoe Bride

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  1. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 9:11 am

    Reading this gave me anxiety – I am so impressed with your sense of calm and solid tips. I cannot imagine having to fly with my dress, I think I would absolutely lose it. Serious kudos, Mrs. Mole :)

  2. mole Member
    mole 1242 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:26 pm

    @Blonde17Jess: I don’t know that I will be that lucky again for a long time! Usually, we have been on flights so full that there is a lengthy stand-by list.
    @Miss Coyote: Thanks!
    @StephK527: Thank you! I figure that there is no use getting all worked up about things like this; things generally work out in the end. (I probably would have a completely different viewpoint if my dress got destroyed on the flight. Haha.)

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