Bring Your Dress as a Carry OnThe option that will keep your dress the safest will be to carry your dress on with you. This way you'll know where your dress is at all times and you run little risk of somebody else losing it en route to your big day. There are some limitations here, first there is limited storage space to hang your gown up, so always call ahead once you have your airfare booked. Here is what Delta Airlines has to say about carrying on your wedding gown.
Many brides take their wedding dress on the plane as carry-on luggage, but BE SURE it is an approved size, as some airplanes do not have extra room for oversized carry-on pieces. It is advised to make arrangements with the airline in advance. Some airlines allow the large "coat closets" in the first-class cabin area to be used for bridal gown storage.If you cant use the first class coat storage closet, plan on bringing your gown in a carefully packed, carry on size, suitcase or specially sized carry on box packed by a dry cleaners who specializes in wedding gowns.
Pros: Lowest chance of losing your dress.
Cons: May not be able to hang dress. Dress may not fit in an approved size carry on.
Bring Your Gown as Checked LuggageThe next option is to pack your gown into a suitcase and check it your other luggage. You would pack it the same way as suggested above only now you can use a bigger bag (works better for gowns with multiple layers or a long train).
Pros: Dress will arrive when you do. Can use bigger suitcase than for carry on.
Cons: There is a chance your luggage will be lost. Many airlines charge a fee for checked baggage.
Ship Your Wedding Gown via USPS, UPS or FedExWith prices that may be less than an additional carry on, shipping your gown to your destination may be an attractive option. My sister got married in Disney World and mailed her wedding gown to my grandparents house two weeks before the wedding. Before she even stepped on the plane she knew the dress was safe and sound hanging in my grandparents guest bedroom closet. Call ahead to your destination to see if you can make arrangements before you ship your gown, you don't want the hotel you staying at the refuse the shipment and have it sent back!
Pros: May be cheaper than checking with airline. Can send ahead of wedding to be sure it arrives safely. Can insure your gown.
Cons: Again, there is always a slight chance the wedding gown may be lost. Your hotel may not be willing to sign for your wedding dress.
Buy The Gown at Your DestinationUnless you are getting married in a destination marriage town, like Las Vegas, I wouldn't plan on buying the dress once your arrive. The exception to this is if you are planning on getting married in a simple dress that could be worn for an event other than a wedding. For instance you could buy a hand made dress in Mexico for use as your wedding dress.
Pros: Zero percent chance of your gown getting lost before you get there.
Cons: You may not find a gown you like or one that fits properly.
Photo Credit: GilbertoFilho via flikr