Since your wedding dress will be one of the most important purchases for your wedding, you will want to protect that investment by having it professionally cleaned and prepared for storage. Whether your dress was informal, designer, off the rack or worn on the beach, there is more to storing it than placing it in a garment bag and hanging it in your closet.
Here are some tips on preserving your wedding dress:
- You should have your dress properly cleaned and stored within 6 months after the wedding to preserve its beauty. You may not see them, but white wine and champagne stains will turn the fabric yellow in a few months.
- Where do you find gown preservationists? You should first ask the shop where you purchased the gown. In most cases, they offer cleaning and preservation services. Unless you agreed to it prior to the purchase of the dress, the cost is additional. If the shop does not offer this service, check the Yellow Pages for dry cleaners that advertise expert cleaning of wedding dresses. Be sure to ask the cleaner if they use different solvents on gowns than they do regular clothing. Standard solvents are often too harsh for wedding dresses, which must be cleaned with the gentlest cleaners in an acid free environment.
- Do your research to make sure you are working with a reputable professional. Don’t be afraid to check them out at the Better Business Bureau.
- Spills, stains and body oils are lethal to a dress. Once you have chosen a preservation specialist, be sure to advise them of any details they may need to know about your dress. For example, if you spilled something on your dress, make sure they know about it. If you were married outdoors or at the beach, let them know this as well. Certain elements may cause a reaction with the dry cleaning solvent.
- Ask if you can see your dress before it is packed. That way, you can see for yourself if all visible stains have been removed prior to storage.
- Wedding dresses should be stuffed with clean, acid-free tissue. Acid-free tissue placed between the folds of the dress and stuffed in the bodice will prevent permanent wrinkles and folds as well as help stabilize the environment of the box.
- Make sure all should pads, perspiration shields and anything else made of foam is removed from the dress before storing. These materials do not typically have a good shelf life, and as they deteriorate, they can ruin the fabric next to them.
- Don’t pack your dress with plastic or metal buttons, pins or buckles.
- Never use moth balls when storing your dress. The chemical in this product can ruin the fabric over time.
- Never hang your gown for long-term storage.
- Don’t be afraid to take the gown out of the box and look at it from time to time. That way, you’ll be sure the most important dress of your life is successfully standing the test of time. White cotton gloves should be worn while handling the gown to prevent oily fingers from making contact with the fabric and the gown should be refolded carefully to prevent permanent creases.
- Once your dress is cleaned and pressed, it is stored in a box and sealed. When you pick up your gown, make sure the box is air tight and no moisture is trapped inside.
- Don’t store your dress where it can be exposed to dampness, mold, mildew or extreme temperatures (like in an attic, basement or garage).
No other garment will ever mean more to you than your wedding dress. As long as you take the proper steps to protect your dress against insects, mold and fading, it should stay as beautiful as the day you wore it. With luck, your dress can be passed to your daughter or you can simply keep it as a permanent and treasured memento of your wedding day.