Six tips to help you navigate the airlines and seamlessly transport your gown to your destination wedding locale.
If the idea of shoving a delicately hand-beaded silk Mikado gown into an overhead compartment makes you woozy, then this article is for you. Many destination brides face the dreaded decision of sacrificing their dream gowns in favor of a more carry-on compartment friendly version. So what do you do when you simply can’t let go of your fantasy dress and it isn’t from the destination section at the bridal salon? You grab your favorite thirteen year-old girl movies and some tissues on your way home. Just kidding.
Buy it! That’s right, buy your dream dress no matter the fabric, silhouette, or sheer volume. The old saying is true: ‘where there’s a will there’s a way.’ If there is no question that you are prepared to look like a sweating, dying animal dragging it through the airport than you really have found your dress-mate. Congratulations! Follow these quick and easy steps to prepare yourself and your gown for the long trip ahead:
1. Research airline policies for transporting wedding dresses and then find out if they follow their own guidelines
There is nothing more frustrating than calling an airline several times to make sure you're in compliance and then showing up to the gate and getting conflicting information. Many airlines will say whatever (it's worth repeating...whatever) they have to in order to get your business. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned customer review to prove whether or not people still have trouble. Look through community boards on sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire to see what other destination couples are saying about flying the friendly skies. Another helpful place to search is TripAdvisor. Choose your airline, and in the search bar, type in wedding dress or wedding gown to get the most bang for your buck, and see what kinds of experiences other folks have had. Sometimes, it's absolutely cringe-worthy.
2. Find a bag or a suitcase specifically for wedding gowns
Chances are, that garment bag from the bridal salon just won’t cut it. The good news is that many luggage companies are manufacturing heavy-duty garment and carry on bags to keep up with the bustling destination wedding industry. Make sure to read the product reviews, especially if your gown isn't your standard, run of the mill design. Seeing a pattern here?
3. Ask the bridal salon how to pack your dress
Before you decide to tackle it yourself because it "can't be that hard, right?"... ask the bridal salon if they have any helpful hints to getting your wedding dress packed safely. There are likely certain places on the gown that are a little more forgiving than others and the pros will know those details better than anyone else. Depending on the salon, they may just offer to pack it for you!
4. Call ahead and ask the check in desk to inform the gate agents you are coming
Notify the airline that you are a blushing bride with precious cargo. Here's the kicker, you may or may not receive special considerations or even follow through, but at least you were courteous enough to inform them of your extenuating circumstance. Sometimes, they'll be looking for someone to kindly bump up into first-class. Who better than a sweet couple who's on their way to their wedding. For the umpteenth time, review the luggage guidelines beforehand to make sure you are in compliance.
5. Leave early for the airport in case there are hiccups
There is nothing more terrifying than approaching TSA with your top-secret wedding gown when you’re running late. In the instance that you do have to unpack it for them because something looks suspicious, be sure to have plenty of time to gently tuck it all back in again. Not to mention you may have to do it solo so it remains a secret to your soon-to-be spouse.
6. Be nice to every single airline employee you encounter
You could be facing an exhausted airport employee who insists you must check your wedding gown, no matter what the nice customer service team told you. Take a deep breath, stay calm and be polite. Remember, they are the gatekeepers at this stage of the game and you don’t want to be on opposing sides. Turn up your charm and show her exactly why your fiancé proposed. If all else fails, sob uncontrollably. No, seriously, if you've done everything by the book and someone goes back on their word, chances are you'll be on the verge of a major breakdown anyway. Flight attendants may deal with jerks every single day, but nobody wants to make a bride cry.
Traveling with your wedding gown can be a daunting task for any bride. But that shouldn’t stop you from having the nine foot royal cathedral train you’ve always wanted. Even if you have to ask for space in the captain's closet, it will all be worth it when you see your fiancé's astonishment as you walk down the aisle. Plan ahead, prepare accordingly, be patient, and ask the flight attendant for the cocktail list. Bon Voyage!
Budgeting in foreign currency stressing you out? Check out our five do's and don'ts of staying on budget when your money's worth is constantly changing.
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Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last ten years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.