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
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The Five-Shoe Bride

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  1. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:16 pm

    :) my dress is crossing the ocean soon (again)
    My dear friend came to visit me and when I realized I wouldn’t make it to my parents home town before the wedding, she brought it to me… Eh.. Good excuse to fly over for a weekend in Hawaii. The dress lady bundled my dress into a little carry on that fit under the seat. Oh the pictures had me worried. And this Friday I fly to the mainland dress in hand and a big smile for those flight attendants. They are use to ppl flying into Hawaii dress in hand, I’m hoping they will be just as accommodating for me. :).

  2. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 4:06 pm

    Oh, I can’t wait for part two! Also, that is the most empty flight I think I have ever seen, jealous!

  3. Member
    mkendrick 833 posts, Busy bee @ 4:56 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad there’s more to come – I love reading your blogs!
    Yes, Debi at Fit for A Bride is outstanding! I live in Las Vegas and used her for alterations for my wedding and some of the bridesmaid dresses. I highly recommend her!

  4. Member
    Frog E. 735 posts, Busy bee @ 5:24 pm

    Good overhead bin karma! We were lucky enough to swing business class tickets JFK-LAX, and as soon as I set foot on the plane the purser told me I could hang my dress in the closet (somehow they didn’t realize until the very end that it was a wedding dress, though–I guess women fly that route with evening gowns all the time?). I had some peace of mind ahead of time knowing I could fit it in the overhead if necessary, though. There is never any guarantee of getting the dress in a closet, no matter what anyone tells you.

  5. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:26 pm

    Do you have a dinosaur shower curtain? I’m am unbelievably jealous.

  6. Member
    MrsKeAloha 1044 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:12 pm

    @Future Army Wife: oh my gosh. I didn’t see that when I read thus on my phone. :).

    Seriously, how cute.

  7. Member
    MissDodger 23 posts, Newbee @ 9:11 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Mrs. Mole! I have already been worrying about this aspect of my wedding (as I will be living in Connecticut and getting married in LA), but I think I may follow Tip #1. Can’t wait to hear about the Wisconsin party!

  8. mole Member
    mole 1242 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:29 pm

    @Miss Ke Aloha: Good luck on your flight!
    @Mrs. Pony: I had never been on such an empty flight before. Good timing!
    @mkendrick: Thank you! Glad to hear first-hand about Debi!
    @Frog E.: Score! Good point about the closet; it was full even on our almost empty flight.
    @Future Army Wife: @Miss Ke Aloha: Yes! It’s from Target. I love it.
    @MissDodger: Stay tuned this week for the Milwaukee party! LA as in Louisiana or Los Angeles? Either way, good luck. :)

  9. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:04 am

    WOW, I’m really jealous of the empty flight – what good luck you Moles have! Looking forward to part 2!

  10. coyote Member
    coyote 1963 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:28 am

    Ohh I am so glad I don’t have to fly with my dress, but those are some great tips!

  11. 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 :)

  12. 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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