This blog post was updated on October 17, 2019.

Whether you are just attending or in the actual event, packing formal wedding attire, presents a number of challenges–especially if it’s a destination wedding you’re heading to. You have to battle wrinkles and your suitcase being tossed around like a bean bag. Delicate clothing requires special steps while packing to ensure that you don’t arrive at the wedding looking like an unmade bed.

Before you toss in your dancing shoes and tux, be sure you follow these tips to avoid wedding day meltdowns.

Invest in the Right Garment Bag

The key to packing formal wedding attire (or really any nicer clothing item) usually boils down to a solid foundation. A bag that isn’t right for packing formal wear won’t lend a good result when you touch down. Before you start packing your bag, see if it has the right features for your delicate items. Some bags are specifically designed to pack formal items like suits. Hanging garment bags with lots of cushioning can be helpful for keeping wrinkles at bay. A suitcase with a foldable sleeve insert can make packing a suit easier. Even a hard case bag might be better for your travels as they are more protected from other bags and the elements outside of your control at the airport.

Double Bag Toiletries

While you can prevent a soggy bag on rainy days by not checking it, you can’t prevent a soggy bag if you are at fault. If your shampoo explodes all over your formal wear, all of your efforts to protect and preserve your delicate items will be in vain. You have to think about other items in your luggage that could cause damage, namely toiletries. These are the worst offenders so be sure they are double-bagged in plastic to prevent spills on your suitcase.

Do The Prep Work

You don’t want to just toss your Sunday’s best in your luggage as you might socks or pajamas. There are a number of ways to prep your formal items for air travel that can eliminate wrinkles and any damage in transit. Firstly, place dresses and suits in plastic dry cleaner bags. These will help keep your delicate items clean from dirt and also help cut down on wrinkles. If you’re worried your dress or suit might lose its shape, you can also stuff it with tissue paper so it won’t get crushed. You’ll also want to have all your formal wedding attire pressed before your trip. While it might sound counterproductive to press an item before putting it into a suitcase, it can eliminate wrinkles. If there are wrinkles when you pack your bag, they will only set in more when packed away. Lastly, when you pack these items, don’t place them at the bottom of the bag. They should always be on top so that they aren’t facing the weight of other items bearing down on every fold and crease.

Limit Folds

The fewer folds you make on those dresses and suits, the better off your items will be. Try to only fold those items a few times if you can and at natural creases like waistbands. For suits, you can lay it flat, fold the left shoulder back and turn the right shoulder inside out. Then place the left shoulder into the right shoulder and fold in half. Even if you don’t use this method, if you just limit the folds on suits and dresses, you’ll stand a better chance of your items staying wrinkle-free.

Stick to One Neutral Dress Shoe

Dress shoes are the ultimate space hoarders in a suitcase. They take up an obscene amount of room in luggage. It’s best to be decisive and only bring one pair. Pick a neutral color that will go with all of your formal wear for the destination wedding. Men’s dress shoes should be stuffed with items like socks to save space. High heels should be placed at the bottom of the bag since they can be heavy. Also, try to pack soft and small items around to keep them protected and to save room in your bag.

Resist Checking Your Bag

Even if your cheap flights came with free checked-in baggage and you’re really tempted to, if you can avoid it, try not to check your bag. Carry-on is supreme when dealing with formal wear. While you would hope your bag would make it to its destination without getting lost or damaged, it can happen. It is best to carry-on all of those special outfits you need for the wedding to make certain that nothing happens in transit. If the bag never leaves your sight, or you are the only one handling it, you stand a better chance of your item not getting damaged or wrinkled.

Ask To Use the Airplane Closet

Many planes have closets on board where you might be able to hang a garment bag. You can call in advance to ask if your flight has a closet that you might be able to use. Once you are on board, you can ask a flight attendant if you can hang up your garment bag. There’s no guarantee your plane will have a closet or a flight attendant will let you use it but it never hurts to ask. If you can keep your item hanging, you’ll avoid it getting crushed by other bags in the overhead bin and any additional wrinkles creeping into your gown. If the closet isn’t an option, try to lay your garment bag carefully on the top of bags in the overhead bin.

Have you had to pack formal wedding attire for a destination wedding? What other tips and tricks did you implore? Share your secrets with us in the comments below.


About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at