- a breathable garment bag or specialty dry cleaning bag (they are made of a particular type of plastic to ensure the material can breathe and does not become discoloured). You may need two, depending on the size of the garment bag, and the weight of your lengha.
- one piece of carry-on size luggage, exclusively for your lengha, if you want to carry it in an overhead compartment on the airplane, otherwise it will travel with the checked luggage in the cargo hold.
- waterproof luggage tags
- acid-free, white tissue paper (not newspaper!!! I've seen this recommended on some sites, but honestly, you run the risk of getting ink on your dress). If you aren't worried about weight restrictions because you're not flying, you can always use muslin or another inexpensive cotton blend material.
Lay it down on the floor on top of a layer of tissue, if the back panels of your skirt are also beaded. Place tissue along the left edge and the right edge of the skirt, where you will fold it into the centre. This way the tissue will protect the beading snagging on itself. Fold the skirt lengthwise in thirds, wrapping it in the tissue it was laying on as you go. Slide it into the garment or drycleaning bag. You will find that folding any garment in thirds allows it to sit flatter.
If your top opens from the back or front, undo the buttons, hooks or zippers that keep it shut. Lay the top down flat on the floor or bed. Place tissue all along the front of the bodice, covering any beading and embroidery, and then turn the garment inside out so that the back of the choli, where it opens, is now facing up. Reclose all the fastenings on the back (The reason I don't just say turn the choli inside out and stick tissue inside is because that may damage the beading or cause a snag in the fabric). Fold the top the same way they fold sweaters in the shops, and then in half before laying it flat on top of the skirt in the garment bag. If your top has long sleeves, turn these inside out too, and thread some tissue through them before folding.
This step is a little bit dependent on the weight and style of your dupatta, as the lighter weight, less embroidered dupattas will not need as much protection. My preferred method is as follows: Lay the dupatta flat on the floor or bed and place tissue or muslin fabric along half the length, allowing for some overhang. Fold it in half so that the uncovered half now lies on top of the tissue. Now take the overhanging tissue and fold it over so that it covers the top of the dupatta. Fold it down the middle so that it is short enough to fit in the garment bag. You may need to use a new garment bag if the other one is too packed with the skirt and choli.
A few more considerations:
Some lenghas can weigh up to 20 lbs! That's far more than the standard carry-on allowance and you may not be allowed to carry it in the overhead compartment. It helps to call your travel agent or airline ahead of time to discuss special arrangements.
I've based my instructions on packing in a suitcase, but if you are travelling by car, bus or train, your options can include a cardboard box (I personally don't recommend this) or a plastic tote.
When you arrive at your destination, unpack and hang your dress immediately to allow it air and stretch out some of the wrinkles.
Don't for get to use the luggage tags or an information card to write down all the relevant details in case you and your dress are separated! Pack one inside the garment bag with the dress as well.
Are you travelling to India or Pakistan to shop for your gown? Will you be travelling for the wedding itself? How do you plan on packing your lengha? Any ideas or suggestions you have to share would be great!