Can I fold my wedding dress?

white wedding dress

I bet you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were a little girl. And now that you’re all grown up, it’s time to hunt for that perfect gown. Buying a gown, you’ll love is no easy task many brides say they’ve tried on over 20 gowns in the quest to find the perfect one.

After months of hunting, saving, making alterations, and countless fittings, your dream dress is finally ready.

According to data from The Wedding Report, the average wedding dress costs about $1,250. If you think that seems like a lot to spend, remember that Kate Middleton’s dress was rumoured to cost over $430,000!

Still, with the investment of time and money you’ve made in your dress, you want to make sure you’re keeping it safe.

These days, 1 in every 4 weddings is a destination wedding. That means you’re going to need to know how to properly pack and fold a wedding dress to travel to your destination. Even if you’re getting married locally, you still have to transport your dress.

There are so many big picture things to know when planning a destination wedding like picking a location, getting your documents ready, and deciding on a guest list, that sometimes brides forget the smaller yet equally important things to make their wedding experience go as smoothly as possible. One of those things is folding your wedding dress properly. No matter the type of dress or the type of fabric you pick, it’s still important to know how to fold your wedding dress and get it safely to your destination without doing any permanent damage to it.

The first thing you need to do is find out what your dress is made of. Some fabrics rest and fold better than others, and it will benefit you to know this. Second, decide if you are using a dress box or a travel garment bag. If you purchase a kit from a wedding dress specialist, then they can pack it securely for you (and we totally recommend letting them do this!). But if you’re anything like this wedding blogger here, you will want to try on your wedding dress a few (hundred) more times before the wedding trip; so we’ll teach you how to pack it yourself. Remember: the trick to packing your dress is proper folding; avoid cramming your dress at all times that may lead to unsightly wrinkles!

Check our Top Wedding Dress Shops In Melbourne for your list of some of the most exclusive dress shops.

Packing at Home

Line the box or suitcase you are using with tissue and lay your wedding gown– face (front side) down–over the box so that about one-third of your wedding gown is over the box, one-third is at one end of the box and the other one-third at the other end of the box. Make sure you have your wedding gown centred in the box. The part that faces (front side) down should be spread out flat, so there are no creases or folds.

Beginning with the side seams, fold the skirt lengthwise over bunched tissue until the skirt is no wider than the box. Then add more tissue and fold the bottom of the skirt into the box.

Add still more tissue and fold the top of your wedding gown into the box. The top of the gown will now be facing up. In other words, visualize yourself doing the impossible: laying on your stomach with your legs folded over backwards while your head and shoulders are laying on top of your legs–facing up!

Use still more tissue to stuff the bodice and to cushion anything else such as bows or sleeves. If prongs are holding the crystals on your wedding gown in place, be sure to put a tissue over the prongs, so they do not cause snags.

When you are finished, the dress should not move or “dance,” as the Spanish say, even if you shake the box. Save the dancing for your wedding day!

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How to Pack & Fold a Wedding Dress

Learning the best way to pack and fold a wedding dress may give you more peace of mind, even if you’re travelling short distances. Plus, after the ceremony is over, you’ll need to know how to store your wedding dress safely. We’re giving you the scoop on everything you need to know about how to safely and carefully transport your wedding gown!

Find The Right Garment Bag

This is the essential first step in learning how to pack and fold a wedding dress. Even if your bridal gown store gave you a garment bag when you purchased your dress, you still need to make sure it’s secure enough to do the job well.

A quality garment bag should be made of thick plastic or other strong material. The flimsy ones you get in most retail stores won’t cut it when it comes to your wedding dress.

Make sure your bag is long enough to cover every part of your dress, and that it fully zips closed, from top to bottom.

Don’t knot your garment bag, which could make the bottom of your dress fall out and get dirty.

Even better?

Look for a garment bag that includes zipper pockets for all your bridal accessories, veil or headpiece. After all, wouldn’t it be easier to store everything you need for your wedding day look in one place?

We love this pocketed garment bag option, with handy pockets for your jewellery and shoes.

Do you have any plan after using your wedding dress? Check out our post on How to Sell Your Wedding Dress: A Handy Guide.

Fold The Dress In The Bag Correctly

After you’ve selected your ideal garment bag, it’s time to learn how actually to fold the wedding dress inside the bag itself. To start, always keep your gown on its hanger!

Then, follow these steps:

  • Put the top of your dress inside the bag. Pull the top, c-shaped part of the hanger through the opening at the top of your bag (this makes hanging it up a snap, wherever you are.)
  • Keep the bottom half/train of your wedding dress outside the bag for now.
  • Carefully fold the right and left sides of the bottom of your wedding dress towards the waistline, in the centre.
  • Once the left and right bottom sides are folded, start to slowly roll your train up, making sure the folds stay in place as you roll.
  • Stop rolling when you can fit your train comfortably in the garment bag.
  • Zip up your garment bag slowly, so you don’t snag the fabric. The good idea is to run your finger along the inside of the zipper as you pull up.
  • Always make sure that you keep your garment bag with your wedding dress hanging for as long as possible. It should be one of the last things you pack!

Also, you need to watch your dress’s exposure to sunlight.

If you’re travelling in a car, you may want to cover the window where the dress is hanging to avoid discolouration.

Pro Tip: Not all fabrics will show wrinkles in the same way, or as easily as others. For example, if your dress has a lot of laceworks, wrinkles won’t form as easily. Still, always take the time to pack and fold a wedding dress properly.

How To Fold The Garment Bag

packing a wedding dress

You don’t just need to know how to pack and fold a wedding dress – you also have to make sure you’re folding the garment back correctly! If possible, we highly suggest carrying your wedding dress with you on an aeroplane or leaving it hanging in the car if you’re making a cross-country drive.

However, we understand that sometimes that’s not always an option. So, if you need to fold your garment bag and put it in your suitcase, here’s what to do:

  • Gently fold the garment bag either in half or in a trifold. Usually, garment bags will have snap enclosures to make sure they stay closed.
  • Don’t crease the folds, or make them too tight. Instead, keep things as loose as you can!
  • Be aware that no matter how much you duct tape your lids, things can spill in your suitcase.
  • Avoid putting anything on top of your wedding dress in your suitcase, especially if it’s a more structured piece.

We suggest turning your wedding dress inside out before you put it in the garment bag it if you’re planning on putting it in a suitcase. Also, you may want to wrap an additional piece of plastic around your garment back, for extra protection.

Finally, we all know that baggage inspection is something even brides can’t avoid. Consider putting in a note to TSA agents, asking them to carefully repack your bag if they’ve had to go through it.

How to Fold your Wedding Dress Using a Travel Garment Bag

  • Ensure that you have a sturdy, waterproof travel garment bag. For the price and sentimental value of your wedding dress, it’s worth it to spend on a quality bag. You can likely find a quality one at wedding dress boutiques. If they don’t have any, they can more than likely tell you who does. You can also browse Amazon for a quality bag recommended for destination wedding travel. Read the reviews – trust us!
  • Hang your dress inside the bag with a hanger heavy enough to support the weight of the gown. We suggest a sturdy silk hanger made specifically for the gown. Avoid any hanger material that may tarnish your gown.
  • If necessary, fold the train once at the bottom, so it fits inside the bag.
  • Using acid-free tissue paper or plastic dry cleaner bags, gently stuff them in and around your dress and in any remaining space in the bag. This helps your 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 your dress in one or more plastic dry cleaner bags inside the larger garment bag. We know it’s a lot of bags, but the dry cleaner bags provide extra protection from moisture and damage during transit and just in case of TSA inspections.

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How to Fold your Wedding Dress Using a Box

(This method works well for former brides who want to preserve their wedding gowns after their big day.)

  • Using a large dress box (about one-third of your gown) with acid-free tissue paper that stores tend to pack gift items in, line your box with the tissue paper first and then centre your gown in the middle of the box ensuring the back is laid out very, very smoothly. At this point, only the middle of your gown should be in the box. The top and bottom of the gown should be hanging out over the top and bottom of the box.
  • Add more tissue to cover the top and then begin at the side seams; fold the skirt of your gown lengthwise over bunched tissue until the skirt is no wider than the box. Then add more tissue and fold the bottom of the skirt into the box.
  • Add even more tissue and fold the top of the gown over into the box. The top of your gown will now be facing up. The best way we can explain it is to picture yourself lying on your stomach with your legs folded over backwards while your head and shoulders are lying on top of your legs–facing up.
  • Last but not least use more tissue (you should probably buy a lot of tissue paper) to stuff the bodice and cushion anything else such as bows or sleeves that should be protected.
  • This step is the most important- Do not move, shake, and/ or remove your dress. We mean it! We know it’s very tempting to want to peek at your dress or shake it to hear if it’s still in there; it is. If your mother insists that you try it on one last time for your dear old aunt Clara to see, gently tell her that you want to surprise her with how smashing it looks on you on the day of your wedding. Be nice, but firm.

Ever hear the expression, “There are two kinds of luggage….carry-on and lost”? Unfortunately, putting your wedding dress in your checked suitcase and hoping for the best is like playing Russian Roulette. The smarter option is to carry it on with you in a garment bag (either uses the one it came in or purchase a heavy-duty bag).

Once you get on the plane, gently fold your garment bag in half and place it in the overhead bin. Some people may tell you to hang it in the first-class closet, but that’s rarely done. Besides, the closet is only four feet high, so you’d have to stuff it in.

You run the same risk with virtually everything you pack in checked luggage. The best plan of attack is to make sure the groom’s clothing, the wedding bands, your legal documentation, veil, jewellery, and anything essential for your wedding day is in your carry-on luggage.

Don’t forget that you can’t carry on any liquids or makeup larger than 3 ounces in size or you risk having security simply toss out your items.

On most airlines, a garment bag is considered to be your one allotted carry-on bag. Check your airline’s website for specifics. In my experience, most security guards will not give you a hard time if you’re carrying a small rolling suitcase and a garment bag, but we recommend packing your essentials into one suitcase that you and your soon-to-be can share, just in case.

Remember that whatever you bring has to fit above you in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. When you arrive at the airline gate, inform the attendant that you’re travelling for your wedding and ask if there’s any way that you could board early to assure that there will be space in the overhead bin for your gown. Normally, everyone seems to smile when they know you are boarding a plane with your wedding dress. Flight attendants tend to be more helpful, passengers seem to bend over backwards to accommodate a bride, and many times, the crew even announces your arrival once you land and offer their congratulations.

As you are maneuvering through the airport on your way to your destination, keep in mind that you can pack everything in your checked luggage for your return flight home. But if you are having a wedding outside of the US, remember that flowers and fruit can’t be packed in your checked luggage (sadly, you can’t bring your bouquet home).

There you have it; how to fold your wedding dress the right way. Have you travelled to a wedding dress before and can provide extra tips? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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