How to Travel With a Wedding Dress - Tabitha Corinne Photography

How to Travel With a Wedding Dress

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Deciding to elope means that you can tie the knot just about anywhere! So, a lot of couples’ adventurous elopement day takes them across the country, or even abroad. But, whether you take a road trip or hop on a flight, traveling with a wedding dress can be a unique challenge that most people haven’t faced before! This guide will tell you how to travel with a wedding dress and keep it safe, including tips for flying, packing it for a hike, and more.

Choosing a Travel-Friendly Wedding Dress

It can be really helpful to start figuring out how to travel with a wedding dress early on in the process, before you even get your dress! Some wedding dresses are going to be much easier to travel with than others, so if you have some idea of what you plan to do on your elopement day – for example, if you know you’re going to be taking a plane, or if you know you want to hike – keeping these things in mind when you go dress shopping can help you find a dress that will be easier to travel with.

When it comes to traveling with a wedding dress, the biggest consideration is going to be the size and weight of your dress! A big ball gown with a huge skirt is going to be pretty difficult to squeeze into a carry-on bag, so you may want to consider opting for something that has a little less volume. This is a good tip for elopement dresses in general, since you’ll be moving around a lot more than you would at a traditional wedding, having a lightweight dress is helpful even if you don’t have to pack it!

Another thing to think about when you pick out your wedding dress is how much it’ll wrinkle. Different fabrics react differently, so it can be really helpful to choose a dress that will still look good after being rolled or folded up. Knowing how you’re planning to travel with your wedding dress will be helpful here as well, because if you plan to put on your dress at your Airbnb, you can easily steam it beforehand! But, if you want to go for a hike on your elopement day, and you want to pack your dress in your backpack, you won’t have access to a steamer on the trail, so wrinkles will be a bigger consideration. Lace is the absolute best fabric when it comes to wrinkle resistance, because it doesn’t wrinkle at all! Other amazing options include tulle and crepe, which are lightweight and have some texture, which conceals wrinkles.

How to Fly With a Wedding Dress

So, you found the perfect dress – now how do you travel with it? If you’re flying to your elopement destination, I recommend putting your wedding dress in your carry-on or bringing it with you on the plane. This is the safest option, as you can keep it with you at all times and if your luggage gets lost (knock on wood), you’ll still have the dress. Putting all the most important elopement day items in your carry-on can save you some stress!

To fly with a wedding dress, I definitely recommend bringing a garment bag with you. No matter how you store your dress during the flight, a garment bag will keep it safe – get a waterproof one just in case!

A wedding dress is hanging in a doorway.

The first way to fly with a wedding dress is to put it in your carry-on. If it fits, this is likely going to be the safest option! You might also be able to bring it on the plane separately, and just store it in the overhead compartment in the garment bag. Sometimes, airplanes also have coat closets or extra storage for the flight attendants on board or for folks in first class. Whether or not this is an option, and whether or not they let you use it, really depends on the flight, so you can call ahead of time and chat with customer service to learn about your options.

If you’re really serious about keeping your dress elopement day ready, some couples even purchase an extra seat and put the dress there! But, shelling out the extra cash for this definitely isn’t a necessity – storing it in your carry-on or talking with the flight attendants about your options is just as good.

An example of a great wedding dress for travel - it's lightweight and the fabric is wrinkle resistant!

How to Pack a Dress in a Backpack

If you need to pack your wedding dress, whether it’s in your carry-on bag or in a backpack for a hike, there are some ways to keep the dress safe and prevent wrinkles!

Of course, always make sure you have a waterproof bag to put the dress in. When it’s time to actually pack your wedding dress, start with the bodice. If it has boning, carefully fold the top of your dress in a way that makes sense for the structure. Afterwards, take the skirt and roll it up. If there isn’t any boning or structure to your dress, simply fold it in half (length wise) and then roll it up, starting from the bottom of the skirt. Rolling is better than folding, because it prevents wrinkles!

Then, put the dress in your waterproof bag, and store it in your backpack or carry-on.

Bring a Steamer

Wrinkles are typically the biggest concern when it comes to taking your dress out of its bag, so bring a mini steamer with you to your elopement destination. Now, steamers will need to be plugged in, so this will only work if you have access to electricity – but you’ll likely be staying in a place with outlets, so steam your dress before you leave for the final elopement location. 

Steaming is safer than ironing, but be careful to keep the steamer upright so that you don’t get any water spots on the dress (don’t stress too much though, they’ll dry – unless your dress is made of taffeta, which will stain, so watch out for that!).

After traveling for their elopement in Big Sur, this couple is walking down the beach, wearing a wedding dress and a suit.

Need Help Traveling With Your Wedding Dress?

Elopements, when compared to traditional weddings, come with some extra logistical challenges! As an elopement photographer, my job is to guide you through it all – so I’m here to give you all the tips and tricks for the perfect elopement. I’ll help you pack your wedding dress in your backpack for a hike (and show you how to safely store a bouquet too), and be there to free any leaves or sticks that your skirt picks up along the way.

If you’re ready to start planning your elopement, contact me!

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