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A Complete Guide to Shipping a Wedding Dress

by Staff

After saying “yes” to the dress, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is packing it up and shipping it somewhere. It’s hard to imagine parting with your dream gown once it’s in your hands, but the operations manager of PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, Melissa Martel, says shipping a wedding dress is actually far more common than you might think. 

Meet the Expert

  • Melissa Martel is the operations manager of PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, one of the largest online wedding shops specializing in new and consignment bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, formal gowns, and accessories.
  • Fallon Carter is the founder and creative director of Fallon Carter Events, an event planning service that specializes in destination weddings. 

“The most common reason to ship a wedding dress is that you sold it to someone from outside your city and need to get it to them quickly and safely,” she explains. Reselling your gown once you’ve said “I do” is a personal decision, but one that’s become far more popular. Not only will you make a little extra cash, but you’re also contributing to sustainable fashion practices by giving your garment a second life. Another reason you might consider shipping? You’re having a destination wedding and need to get your look from point A to point B. 

But before you grab an old Amazon box and stuff your dress inside, there are a few key elements you need to consider. From packing must-haves to safety tips, here’s everything you need to know about how to ship a wedding dress, whether domestically or internationally. 

What Do You Need to Ship a Wedding Dress?

Even though it might seem like a simple concept, Martel says there’s actually a lot involved when shipping a wedding dress. The good news is that packing and protecting your gown will be the same regardless of the final destination. “You want to protect [your look] just as well for a journey across the country as you would for across the ocean,” she explains.

So whether your dress is going a few cities over or to the other side of the globe, here’s what you need to get it there safely.

A Box

First things first, Martel says you need a clean, sturdy box for shipment. “Never ship your wedding dress in a preservation box on its own since it’s too flimsy and exposes your gown to thieves or damage,” Martel explains. You’ll also want to steer clear of any box that exposes what’s inside since this will void your insurance protection. A sturdy box from Amazon, USP, FedEx, etc. will do, but if you’re really struggling, Martel suggests contacting local bridal shops to see if they have any extra boxes you can have—oftentimes they’ll give you one for free!

A typical wedding gown will fit in an 18”x16”x9” or 30”x20”x8” box, but you want to pick one that’s just big enough to fit your gown and packing materials. “This reduces your cost and reduces the risk of your dress sliding around during transit, potentially damaging the finer embellishments and creasing it more than necessary,” Martel notes. To figure out the best size, gently fold your dress and measure its length, width, and height. 

Protective Plastic Covering

While plastic isn’t recommended for long-term wedding dress storage, Martel confirms that it’s perfectly safe—and advised—when shipping a gown. “In the worst-case scenario that your dress gets exposed to the elements, you will want to protect it in plastic.” Product-wise, you can use anything from a clear recycling bag to a plastic garment bag. Oftentimes, one is included with the purchase of your gown but if not, you can likely buy one from a local bridal shop for a small fee.

Shipping Fees

Fees are a given, but the final cost will greatly depend on the destination, weight of the gown, desired shipping speed, etc. And while the process might seem expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Even though courier services don’t currently have special offerings for wedding dress shipments, there are ways to get the most affordable price within your desired budget.

First, you want to ensure you select the right size box—one that fits your gown without much wiggle room. Then, Martel suggests getting online quotes from multiple carriers to see which one is most cost-effective. To do this, you’ll need the measurements of your box, the weight of your dress, and the destination zip code. 

Payment of Duties

Import fees and duties are really where the cost of shipping will vary for an international delivery versus a domestic one. These fees apply to the person receiving the gown, so make sure whoever is accepting the garment is aware of these required payments. “Every country has its own fee structure tied to clothing imports and minimum value thresholds,” Martel explains. “These costs are the [recipient or] buyer’s responsibility, so make sure they understand it will be shipped as DDU (delivered duty unpaid), and that they will be responsible for any duty/taxes/fees when it arrives at customs.”


When shipping a wedding dress, one aspect you absolutely can’t ignore is the insurance. “Never skip on paying for insurance,” Martel stresses. “It is meant to protect you. If your dress is damaged or lost, you, the shipper/seller, will be liable.” When stating the value, it should be the final price you paid for your dress (including alterations) if you’re shipping for your wedding, or the sale price if you’re shipping to sell. “If you don’t add insurance, you may only receive up to $100 in compensation from the carrier,” Martel explains, so this is one corner you definitely don’t want to cut.


This may be obvious for most, but you absolutely will want to obtain tracking information and check the status daily to ensure the gown’s safe delivery. Martel says if you don’t see movement after two days during the week, it’s a good idea to call the shipping company “This may indicate the package has been lost and the quicker you open an investigation, the more likely they are to recover your dress.”

Drop-Off Receipt and Signature

Having proof that you really dropped off your gown with the carrier is important for liability purposes whether you’re selling or shipping to your destination. This is evidence that the shipping company—not you—is currently liable for your dress. Make sure to get a drop-off receipt and hang onto it until you’re completely positive your wedding dress has arrived at its intended location. 

Martel also stresses the need for requiring a signature upon delivery. “Do not ship without this,” she says. “Porch pirates may snatch up your gorgeous gown if you let it get dropped on a door strep instead of requiring a signature.”

How Should You Pack a Wedding Dress for Shipment?

Now that you have all your shipping essentials and you know what to expect/ask for during the process, it’s time to pack on your gown! Here’s Martel’s step-by-step process for safely getting gowns from brides’ hands to foreign lands:

  • Wash up. Clean your hands, file down any hangnails, and remove jewelry that could cause snags.
  • Document your dress. Take pictures and videos of every aspect of your gown, from all angles, to show the pre-shipping condition. Hold onto these for liability purposes. 
  • Close your dress. Zip or button up the back to avoid bunching, but don’t bustle your dress. 
  • Fold your gown. For simple, embellishment-free gowns made of satin, lace, or the like, flip the gown inside out. Don’t do this for embellished gowns. Put the gown on a (clean and made) bed, then fold each side in. Do this for the train, skirt, and sleeves as well. Place acid-free tissue paper between the folds to prevent snagging and creasing. Finally, fold the bodice over the skirt, adding more tissue paper between each layer. 
  • Protect the gown. Place the dress in a plastic garment bag. Use a plastic bag if you don’t have a garment bag. 
  • Include a label. Put a duplicate shipping label inside the box (but not in direct contact with the dress) in case the outside label is damaged.
  • Tape it. Use strong, 2” wide or wider mailing tape to secure the box. Seal all edges and seams, and double up at the openings. 

Should You Ship Your Wedding Dress for a Destination Wedding?

Outside of selling your wedding dress on consignment, you might be considering shipping for your destination wedding. Unfortunately, both Martel and Fallon Carter, the founder of destination wedding planning company Fallon Carter Events, highly advise against this. “I always suggest not shipping your dress for your wedding,” Carter says. Flying with your dress in the cabin—not checked—is the smartest and safest move. “If you’re having a hard time with too much baggage or luggage, I suggest buying a seat on the plane so that the dress can sit next to you,” she adds. 

Contact your airline ahead of time to ensure there’s space for your gown and to figure out the best way to keep it with you. “Never ever check your dress with your luggage,” stresses Carter. “Always fly with it in the cabin, and see if the flight attendants are willing to hang it in a closet onboard instead of putting it in the overhead compartment.” Additionally, chat with your bridal salon about the best way to hang the gown and what type of garment bag to place it in for travel. 

If for some reason shipment is your only option, Carter suggests working with someone at your final destination for tips regarding customs and the best shipment timeframe. Ensuring your gown arrives on time and intact is crucial, so having a trustworthy recipient ready is a must. “Make sure you actually know the person on the other side—never just ship it to the hotel or venue,” Carter says. “Ship it to someone who can physically receive it on the other end.”

Timing-wise, you’ll want your dress to arrive at your final destination at least a week or two before your wedding, but the earlier the better. Carter says this might mean you need to ship it before your final alterations to ensure it gets to your location on time. If that’s the case, have a seamstress ready who can give your gown any final tweaks before the big day. 

Additional Wedding Dress Shipping Tips

With plenty of preparation, shipping a wedding dress is actually pretty easy! Here are a few more things to consider when packing your gown for a faraway journey.

  • If you’re sending your dress to a new bride, include a note wishing her well and thanking her for her purchase. 
  • Pack your veil, belt, shawl, etc. similar to your dress (folded with tissue paper). Put the items in Ziploc bags and put the bags inside the garment bag with the dress.
  • Just like you don’t want to ship your wedding dress for a destination wedding, you also don’t want to ship your accessories. Carter says these items (shoes, jewelry, veil) should go with you on the plane and should never be checked. 
  • If you absolutely must ship your dress or accessories for a destination wedding, working with your wedding planner or venue is essential to ensuring a safe and timely arrival.

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