A woman's wedding gown is one of the most sentimental purchases she will ever make.
Regardless of the cost, these garments are considered heirlooms and should be kept as such if they are to be passed down to be worn by or serve as inspiration for a future generation.
Remember that your daughter, daughter-in-law, or other female relative may one day choose to wear your wedding dress, incorporate a piece of it into her own, or create a christening gown out of your old lace or silk.
An inappropriate storage environment can cause your white or blush gown to fade, as well as damage the stitching and other aspects of your dress.
Remembering your wedding day via your dress, veil, and other treasures will be easy if you take the time to properly store and protect them.
For long-term storage of a wedding dress or any other fabric, including baby items, avoid exposure to light and moisture. The dress and its accessories are made to last for centuries, so long as they are cared for properly.
Cleaning a Wedding Gown
The day you start looking for your wedding dress is the first day you should start planning for its future preservation.
If you do find "the dress," don't forget to ask the salesperson how to maintain it! Beads, sequins, and other small embellishments require special handling, so be sure you read the label.
Every robe should come with a care label that should be read before first use.
Even if your wedding dress doesn't look dirty, you should clean it before putting it aside for more than a few weeks. It's much more difficult to remove stains like sweat, makeup, and blood if they occur later.
It's important to take your wedding gown to a professional cleaner that specialises in taking care of such garments.
Do not forget to indicate any flaws, such as stains, missing buttons, or damaged trim.
If you know how it is done, explain how the trim is attached to the dress. Some glues used by designers could be destroyed by dry cleaning.
Your cleaner should let you check your gown before packing it in an acid-free box for storage.
This will help to ensure that your dress is not contaminated during storage. In this way, you may rest assured that there won't be any unpleasant surprises when you finally get around to opening that sealed box.
The wrong dress was packed away or the gown was lost, and this has been the subject of numerous horror stories.
If your dress is basic and made of a material that can be hand cleaned at home, then you should pretreat the discoloration and carefully inspect the garment for damage before putting it away.
The dress should be stored somewhere dark and out of direct light, as either could fade the fabric.
How to Store a Wedding Gown Correctly
Make sure the dress and all of its accompanying accessories are clean and dry before being packed up for storage.
Belts and headbands with metal buttons or artificial diamonds and decorations must be kept in a separate compartment from clothing to avoid tarnishing.
Shoes and leather purses are another example.
Wedding gowns are best kept flat in a box of the right size. The force on seams of hanging clothing can cause distortion and eventual tearing. Never store anything important in a standard cardboard box unless you know for sure that it is an archival storage box.
All you have to do is take advantage of the fact that they are made of acid-free paper.
If you want to minimise fibre breaking caused by wrinkles, buying the largest size possible is your best bet.
In our experience, having a professional wedding-dress cleaner and conservator maintain your gown in an acid-free preservation box is the safest and most secure method for long-term storage.
After that, it's as simple as a few storage fundamentals to keep the wedding dress at home:
- Keep the box containing your wedding dress in a dry, cold, and dark area like a closet or beneath your bed.
- Do not keep your dress in a plastic bag if you do not plan on having it preserved and wish to keep it safe at home; doing so exposes it to the dangers of dampness, insects, and oxidation.
- Neither the attic nor the basement is a safe place to keep your wedding gown and preservation box because of the risk of harm from temperature swings, water and air leaks, and pests.
- Eliminate acid transfer, friction, and discoloration by keeping your wedding dress away from other articles of clothing.
Now that you know how to put your wedding dress away, continue on to learn everything about expert preservation techniques.
Archival tissue paper is something else you'll want to invest in. It needs to be said that it is low in acid and lignin.
Fabrics treated with lignin, a chemical component of wood, will age quickly and turn a dull yellow.
Tissue paper is required for fluffing, wrapping, and stuffing sleeves and headpieces to prevent crushing.
Make sure your hands are clean and dry before you start. Avoid using any cosmetics or lotions that could leave a mark on the jewellery.
Using just fresh white cotton gloves will yield the greatest results. The dress's shoulders and breast should be softly stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to maintain their shape.
Then, place the tissue on the bottom of the box or container and the dressing gown on top.
Make sure there's enough tissue padding each fold to stop serious creasing. If you have someone to hold the dress as you pad each fold, the task will go much more quickly.
The same procedure must be followed for each separate accessory, including the veil.
Take care not to overstuff the container. Smaller, individual boxes are ideal for storing heavier things like belts and shoes.
Make sure to check on your wedding mementoes once a year. Keep an eye out for stains and deal with them as soon as possible.
The sooner stains are discovered, the higher the probability of successful removal.
After a thorough examination has been performed using clean hands, the items should be folded in a slightly different manner and cushioned with the tissue to prevent unnecessary creases and stress on the textiles.
Wedding Gown Preservation vs. Regular Dry Cleaning
For starters, unlike with dry cleaning, which is a one-size-fits-all service, a trained specialist must examine the garment to determine its condition before any preservation work can begin.
The expert examines the staining at the hem and throughout the dress, and then formulates a custom treatment plan based on the specifics of your garment's fabric, stitching, and details.
However, there are dry cleaners that provide a specific service for cleaning wedding dresses.
You could use them, but you should check on the quality of their work beforehand. Select a dry cleaner who has solvents that are mild and clean enough for a gown.
Your wedding dress could end up smelling funky if you use normal dry cleaning chemicals, which use other solvents that may contain contaminants. Only dry cleaners that specialise in cleaning gowns should clean and preserve wedding dresses.
It's important to do some digging on a cleaning service's or preservationist's practises before hiring them.
You need a preservationist who promises no harm will be done. And make sure you get your money back for the whole dress, not just the preservation, if there is any damage.
Determine how long the preservation service promises to keep the wedding gown in excellent condition.
Wedding Gown Preservation Suggestions
Wedding Gowns May Have Invisible Stains
Weirdly, invisible leaks pose the greatest threat.
Stains left behind by white wine and other liquids that dry clear contain sugar that, when left alone, caramelises into dark brown spots that regular dry cleaning cannot erase.
There is a latent stain on your gown that won't show until at least six months later, when it will appear as a faint yellow colour and then gradually darken with time.
Adding heat speeds up the procedure.
Expert conservators and cleansers have been schooled to recognise the imperceptible.
Your wedding dress will be spotless after they've finished with it, even if there are unseen stains.
Did you get garden dirt on the hem of your dress during those perfectly staged photo shoots?
Is that stain from the red wine that got spilt on it at the party? Did an overenthusiastic aunt accidentally smear her makeup on it during a hug? For every different kind of stain, they'll develop a unique strategy.
Dress Labels Matter
Here's a tag you shouldn't dismiss. Check for labels that say "Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent" or similar that indicate that the item should be cleaned in a dry cleaning solvent.
Pay attention to what it has to say, and check with the dry cleaner or preservationist you choose to be sure they have the right cleaning methods for your wedding dress.
The Value of Time
The sooner you take the wedding dress to a preservationist or a dry cleaner, the better, as professional cleaning is the initial stage in the preservation process.
It's not ideal for brides to put off having their dresses cleaned until the last minute.
It's possible that by then, stains will have fully set in.
If you want your dress cleaned as soon as possible after the reception, take it off and deliver it the following day. Your mother or a bridesmaid might shoot this photo while you go out on your honeymoon.
The Preservation Box Must Be Airtight
It is common practise to replace the oxygen in the air with nitrogen before storing a dress for preservation.
Clothes which have been kept for a long time may experience oxidation (ageing, discolouration, etc.), hence this is done to protect them.
Experts advise against ever removing the seal from a wedding dress and say that if you do, you should have the dress professionally maintained and resealed.
Keep the Wedding Gown in a Cool, Dark Place
Wedding dresses need to be cleaned and stored after the big day. Keep your dress out of the sun to prevent it from fading and turning yellow. Taking it off the hanger risks distorting even the most substantial dresses.
Avoid putting your garment in an ordinary plastic bag with a zipper.
A wedding dress should be kept away from such kind of plastic because it could stain it.
However, wedding preservation boxes are an exception to the rule because they are made of acid-free plastic.
If you want to keep your wedding mementoes in pristine condition, invest in a good box or, even better, a chest.
Storing your wedding gown in an airtight, lightproof, acid-free bridal chest is the best way to ensure that it will look as good as the day you got married decades from now.
Hanging dresses for an extended amount of time might harm the fabric, but storing them in airtight containers for a short amount of time is fine.
Include Your Shoes and Bouquet
If you take the right precautions, you can keep your bouquet and shoes safe alongside your dress.
Cleaning cloth shoes requires a soft cloth and sponge, and a little scrubbing with a detergent and water.
If your shoes are leather, polish them regularly. Dry cleaners are a great option for heavily stained shoes. After you're through cleaning them, pack them in a box with white absorbent paper.
You may or may not be able to put your shoes inside the preservation box with your outfit. If you want to know if this can be done, consult your preservationist. You can use epoxy resin, wax, or pressing to preserve flowers in bridal bouquets.
Check Your Preserved Wedding Dress Occasionally
Maintain the container flat and upright after you have received your protected garment back from the preservation packing process.
Keep your package in a location that is consistently cold, dark, and dry, with a relative humidity level of no more than 50% or where the temperature is controlled to that of a typical home.
Shade yourself from the sun and heat. Do not store clothing in a cellar or loft because of the extreme temperature changes there. Condensation may form as a result of the sudden drop in temperature, which could compromise the preservation effort.
In the extremely unlikely event that element exposure, abrupt stains, and more sit too long without treatment, experts recommend opening the box and inspecting the gown occasionally.
Keep in mind that your body's natural oils and salts can ruin the garment as you remove it from the box.
Get your hands clean and put on some white gloves if possible. To examine the dress, take note of how it was packed and remove the lid from the box.
Proper storage means your garment box won't ever be totally airtight. Dress fibres will be stained and weakened from mould and mildew growth that is encouraged by the sealing of the box.
Also, if you seal a box and then open it, the oxygen in the box will be re-oxygenated very quickly, which is bad for the fibres within.
The wedding dress is one of the most meaningful items a bride will ever buy. Your white or blush gown will fade and suffer other damages at the hands of an improper storage environment.
Wedding gowns require special care, so be sure to take yours to a dry cleaner who specialises in them.
Gowns for special occasions should be folded and stored in a flat, protective container of the appropriate size.
You should never trust a regular cardboard box to keep your valuables safe unless you know for sure it is an archival storage box.
To prevent tarnish, keep belts and headbands in a separate storage area from clothing.
This is especially important for items that feature metal buttons or artificial diamonds and decorations. In addition, you should purchase archival tissue paper.
Lignin, a chemical component of wood, has a rapid ageing effect, turning fabrics a dull yellow.
Fluffing, wrapping, and stuffing sleeves and headpieces necessitates the use of tissue paper. Be sure to use plenty of tissue paper to prevent wrinkles in each fold.
Pick a dry cleaner with solvents that are gentle and clean enough for a gown. Get your money back for the full cost of the dress, not just the cost of preserving it.
The biggest danger to your wedding dress is not something you can see: hidden leaks. Your gown has a stain that won't become visible for at least six months. Wedding gowns need to be taken to a preservationist or dry cleaner as soon as possible.
- Your cleaner should let you check your gown before packing it in an acid-free box for storage.
- Wedding gowns are best kept flat in a box of the right size.
- Never keep your wedding gown in the dry cleaner's plastic storage bag.
- The dress's shoulders and breast should be softly stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to maintain their shape.
- Then, place the tissue on the bottom of the box or container and the dressing gown on top.
- Make sure to check on your wedding mementoes once a year.
- Select a dry cleaner who has solvents that are mild and clean enough for a gown.
- Only dry cleaners that specialise in cleaning gowns should clean and preserve wedding dresses.
- Check for labels that say "Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent" or similar that indicate that the item should be cleaned in a dry cleaning solvent.
- Pay attention to what it has to say, and check with the dry cleaner or preservationist you choose to be sure they have the right cleaning methods for your wedding dress.
- The sooner you take the wedding dress to a preservationist or a dry cleaner, the better, as professional cleaning is the initial stage in the preservation process.
- If you want your dress cleaned as soon as possible after the reception, take it off and deliver it the following day.
- It is common practise to replace the oxygen in the air with nitrogen before storing a dress for preservation.
- Wedding dresses need to be cleaned and stored after the big day.
- Keep your dress out of the sun to prevent it from fading and turning yellow.
- If you want to keep your wedding mementoes in pristine condition, invest in a good box or, even better, a chest.
- You may or may not be able to put your shoes inside the preservation box with your outfit.
FAQs About Wedding Gown Preservation
Can you wear a wedding gown after it's preserved?
Yes. One of the most common reasons a bride chooses to have her dress preserved after the wedding is so that a future family member can wear it in honour of her.
What is the point of preserving a wedding dress?
Wedding dress preservation is convenient because it allows for easier long-term storage of your dress. Preserving a wedding gown is an option that is good for the environment, the dress, as it stops any future fading or stretching and protects it from stains and the elements.
How long can you wait to preserve my wedding dress?
Your wedding dress can technically be stored away for months, if not years. However, your wedding gown should be professionally cleaned and preserved as soon as possible, preferably right after the big day.
Can you take your wedding dress out of the preservation box?
Because the preservation container will be airtight and sealed for safety, opening it could cause discoloration. Don't open it until you're ready to give it away or use it for something else, or unless you're willing to have it sealed and preserved again.
Should you preserve or sell your wedding dress?
You can always decide to donate or sell your gown in the future if you keep it, but once it's sold, it's gone for good. Keeping your dress will buy you time to think things over, find a good cause to donate to, or sell it if you ever find yourself in a bind.