This blog post is another long answer to a frequently asked question. This isn’t one that I have experience of personally, since I was living in New York when I got married in Central Park. I have been told by brides about their experience of bringing a wedding dress from their home to New York when they get married with us. The short answer is to pack it carefully in a box or garment bag and plan that you may have to take is on as hand luggage, but be very polite to the flight attendants and ask them very nicely if they will hang it up and if they can, they will.
Invest in a good quality bag or box to put the dress in. The store you buy the dress from may give it to you in a garment bag, but you may want get something more sturdy and waterproof for a long journey. Fold your dress as carefully as you can, just in case it does have to remain packed for the flight, use tissue paper if you need to. If you have it in a garment bag, and if you have t put it in the overhead locker, you will have to make the decision on whether to fold the bag, roll it, or to lay it flat on top of the other bags. Whatever is the best option will depend on what your dress is like – some are bigger than others!
The general advice is not to put your wedding dress in to your checked-in luggage. This luggage can go missing and if you your wedding dress is a one-off perfect fit just for you then you certainly don’t want this to happen!
When you get to the gate, ask the attendant if it’s possible to hang your dress or suit in the onboard closet. Flight attendants have one for their own personal use, and if there is space in there, then they are likely to hang your clothing in there for you. They are under no obligation to do this, but it seems that many are kind enough to help. It doesn’t hurt to call your airline ahead of time to check. However you have packed your dress should meet the hand luggage requirements, just in case that’s how you have to carry it on to the plan.
I looked online to see what some of the airlines that fly from the UK to New York say about it, since so many of my couples come from the UK. Some airlines do not mention a wedding dress at all, although many have advice about travelling with a musical instrument or sports equipment. Which isn’t quite the same, but still special baggage, so kind of similar, so it’s worth starting on the website of your airline.
Here’s what Virgin Atlantic say: “You’re welcome to take your wedding dress or wedding suit onboard in addition to your hand luggage. Our crew will, where space permits, hang your dress or suit for you but on some flights the wardrobe space is very limited so we can’t guarantee this. Please pack your dress in a box or bag so that when the crew can’t find space to hang it, it can be safely stowed. With any wedding suits, please make sure they’re packed in a soft suit carrier. If you prefer not to carry it and would like to check it in, please pack your dress or suit into a separate suitcase and mark the suitcase as ‘fragile wedding garments’. Where possible the items should be packed into a plastic bag for extra protection. Please note that if the separate suitcase is outside of your baggage allowance you will need to purchase additional baggage.”
Here’s what Lufthansa say: “You can take your wedding dress on board with you as part of your allowed carry-on baggage. We recommend that you carry it in a foldable garment bag which should not exceed the dimensions of 57 x 54 x 15 cm and a weight of 8 kg. Please note that the number of carry-on items allowed depends on the travel class booked. Should it not be possible to transport your dress in the cabin, you have the option of checking it in with your normal baggage as part of your free baggage allowance.”
Here’s what KLM say: “You can always bring your dress instead of an item of checked baggage. If you’re flying intercontinental and there’s enough storage space, you can bring it on board with you instead of an item of hand baggage. Please make sure it’s packed in a clothing bag that meets the regular hand baggage weight and size restrictions. If there’s not enough storage space, we’ll ask you to check it in at the gate.”
Here’s what British Airways say: “If your wedding outfit doesn’t fit into your hand baggage allowance, and you don’t want to put it in the hold as checked baggage, you may be able to buy an extra seat next to yours to ensure it travels with you in the cabin. It’s not actually possible to do this online, so please call us or your travel agent (whoever you booked your ticket with) at least 24 hours before your flight, to see if there is an appropriate seat available for you to book and to find out the cost. If you have bought an extra seat, you’ll be able to board before other passengers so that you have enough time to secure it in place. Let the team at the boarding gate know before they start boarding that you have bought an extra seat for your wedding outfit.”
So, some airlines sound more reasonable than others. In my opinion, what Virgin Atlantic say sounds the most helpful, with BA’s suggestion that you purchase a seat just for your dress the most unreasonable! Although, if your flight is not full and you are not able to hang the dress up, then the flight attendants may be able to put the dress in an empty seat for you, and possibly move things around so that you can be sitting next to it.
From what previous brides have said, the flight attendants will do their best to help you with any special clothing, but they just can’t make any guarantees. So, I’d advise that you pack the dress as best you can with as much air as you can just in case it has to remain packed, but hope that you can hang it! Also, don’t forget your dress in all the excitement when you disembark!
Many hotels have a concierge who may be able to help you with a steaming service once you get to New York, but that would involve letting the dress out of your sight so might be too stressful! I did have one couple purchase a steamer on arrival and do it themselves. If you do this – be very careful with an appliance that you have not used before, and perhaps try starting off using it with either a towel or sock over it if your dress is quite delicate.
If you would like me to help you with planning your Central Park wedding, once you get your dress to New York, or have any questions about getting married in Central Park, visit our website for lots more information. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.