(some tips provided by Dessy.com, others by our own staff)
Our first recommendation is to have your dress shipped professionally. The thought of parting with your dress may send shivers up your spine, but this is your safest and least cumbersome option.
All Wedding Dress shops can provide you with a box large enough to hold your dress, and tissue paper to pack it with to prevent excessive wrinkling. If you are going to ship your dress ahead, this box should then be wrapped in a plastic garbage bag (to guard against moisture) and placed inside a more sturdy shipping box, and enough bubble-wrap (preferred) or foam peanuts to completely surround your dress box.
Visit your local Post Office, UPS Store, FedEx, or other full-service professional shipping shop and discuss your shipping, packaging and insurance choices with the clerks. You will generally find them highly knowledgeable and helpful in determining the best way to get your dress where it needs to go in tip-top shape.
Whichever shipper you choose, it’s important that you choose a service that provides full insurance coverage and a tracking number with true dynamic (up-to-the-minute) tracking capabilities. Make sure that your dress arrives at your wedding destination at least a week before you do – that way if anything goes wrong, you have time to do something about it.
Don’t forget to arrange with your destination’s Wedding Coordinator or concierge to store your dress for you until you arrive.
If shipping is not an option, forego one piece of your carry-on luggage and take your dress package on board with you. In this case, put the dress in a hanging garment bag, then inside the dress box. Don’t check it in with your luggage, since one of the most likely places your package will be damaged is in baggage handling.
Most airlines will work with you if you call them in advance and may be able to hang it in a small “closet” during your flight. Be sure to call the airline in advance to inquire about carrying it on board and hanging it instead of using the overhead storage, and ask again when you check in and board. If it turns out that you cannot hang it, then keep it in the box for overhead storage, but be careful placing it in overhead bin. It is best to wait until everyone has stored their items first to ensure that your dress box doesn’t get crushed.
If, when you call the airline, you are told you must check your dress package (generally this only happens if you are on a plane that is too small to accommodate a closet or large enough overhead storage), then be prepared to check it – use a hard-sided suitcase to avoid any possibility of damage during baggage handling. Be sure the dress box fits snugly within the suitcase and stuff any spaces with white, acid-free paper.
Once you arrive at your destination, remove your dress from its package as soon as possible. Hang it in a clean, dry, dust-free, well-ventilated place where you have enough room to spread the skirt out over a white, cotton sheet covered floor. Stuff the sleeves and bodice with white acid-free paper to maintain the dress’s shape. If there are any noticeable wrinkles, the hotel’s laundry service will be able to steam them out for you, or may have a portable steamer you can borrow.
Some final tips from our experts: Although we’ve focused on the dress, don’t forget the rest of your wedding outfit – undergarments, shoes, accessories, veil, any special makeup you’ll be using, etc – pack all of it with your dress so it stays together (with your makeup double-packed in waterproof pouches or ziploc-style bags).
And remember the old adage “what’s good for the goose……”, meaning don’t forget about your groom’s wedding day attire – whatever he’s wearing, whether it’s owned or rented, if he’s bringing it along as opposed to picking it up there, it will need just as much attention to be sure it gets to where he needs it to be.
Lastly, enjoy your special day!