Destination weddings can add an extra layer of stress to your big day plans if you must fly with your wedding gown. If you must fly with your wedding dress, it's best to keep it with you at all times to minimize the danger of it becoming lost or damaged. Properly packing the dress and preparing for travel issues before you fly simplifies the process.

Verify Airline Rules

Contact the airline ahead of time and double-check that you can pack your dress as a carry-on item or personal item. Most planes through carriers like American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Jetblue or other major airlines have an area near first class with closet space and hangers available to hang wedding gowns. It is best to ask in advance but the flight attendant is also a resource to ask when boarding for one last chance to avoid overhead bin storage. If the airline does not allow you to bring the dress on the plane, it may be better to change your flight plans to an airline that will allow it to avoid the chance of it becoming lost during transit.

If a closet isn't available and you can't change flights, pack the garment bag inside a hard-sided carry-on suitcase in the largest size allowed as carry-on luggage. The dress may arrive requiring professional wrinkle removal, but it won't be checked luggage that is at the mercy of baggage handlers. If your dress creases there is also the option for brides-to-be or a bridesmaid to pack a travel steamer or portable steamer to ensure all wedding attire is made wrinkle-free prior to wedding day.

Package Correctly

Hang the dress inside a sturdy travel garment bag. Fold the train once at the bottom so it fits inside the bag, if necessary. Stuffing the dress with acid-free tissue paper or plastic dry cleaner bags helps the dress retain its shape. The bodice and sleeves are the areas most likely to suffer from crushing, so they should be stuffed until almost full. Once stuffed, enclose the dress in one or more plastic dry cleaner bags inside the larger garment bag. The dry cleaner bags provide extra protection from moisture and damage during transit and inspections. For additional questions and travel tips and peace of mind, consider asking your bridal stylist. Some professionals may recommend purchasing an extra seat or empty seat which can then be used to hold a larger gown that may not easily fit in an overhead compartment or in a carry-on bag.

Security Procedures

Arrive at the airport early to allow for extra time during TSA security screening. Security personnel may need to open and unpack the dress for screening. You will need the extra time to repack the dress correctly. Adding 30 minutes onto the recommended check-in arrival time for your flight is usually sufficient, although you may need an extra hour at busy airports and those in larger cities.

Arrival Care

Unpack the dress and hang it up promptly upon arrival at your destination. Most wrinkles fall out within 24 to 48 hours. Some wrinkling will occur during travel even if the dress is packed perfectly. Make an appointment with a local dry cleaner prior to arriving for a steaming or pressing just in case more severe wrinkling occurs. Select a cleaner at the wedding location that has experience in bridal gown care to ensure it handles the dress correctly. It is also an option to ask if your wedding venue has a steamer available or if a wedding guest may have one that can be used, otherwise account for the professional steaming service in your wedding planning.