|After the wedding, many brides struggle with what to do with their precious wedding gown that so fondly represents that special day. Since most brides prefer to treasure the memories of their wedding day by keeping their wedding dress (possibly handing it down to a daughter, special niece, god child or grand daughter, or even re-wearing it to renew their vows), it is important to understand the proper methods of cleaning and storing your gown so it can last for centuries to come.
After the wedding, many brides struggle with what to do with their precious wedding gown that so fondly represents that special day. Since most brides prefer to treasure the memories of their wedding day by keeping their wedding dress (possibly handing it down to a daughter, special niece, god child or grand daughter, or even re-wearing it to renew their vows), it is important to understand the proper methods of cleaning and storing your gown so it can last for centuries to come.
Should I have my gown cleaned?
Whether you decide to keep your gown, donate it or sell it, it is important to consider having it cleaned and preserved as soon as possible to maintain its beauty and value. Caramelized sugar stains from cake icing, white wine, champagne or soft drinks will leave unsightly brown spots/stains if they are not thoroughly removed from the fabric in a timely manner. Perspiration, deodorant, hairspray, perfumes, body lotions and cosmetics can cause discoloration as well. Most of these are not readily visible to the naked eye can also cause damage to the fabric of the gown. Left untreated they can be difficult to impossible to remove over time. As a result, it is highly recommended that you have your gown cleaned and preserved by a reputable professional as soon as possible after your wedding.
What is the difference between dry cleaning and preservation?
Dry cleaning provides a basic cleaning of obvious dirt and stains. However, it does not protect against the long term yellowing, fabric deterioration, or invisible stains that can surface over time and ruin your precious gown. It is important to find a highly reputable and experienced preservation service that will carefully examine each gown individually under special lighting and hand treat all stains with gentle yet effective chemicals. They should also treat the fabric with against yellowing and other discolorations with an anti-sugar treatment. Proper cleaning and preservation will permanently remove both visible and invisible stains, as well as protect the fabric from deterioration, so your gown will look just as beautiful as the day you first tried it on.
How much will it cost?
Top quality preservation by a highly reputable company does not have to be expensive. Although some companies will charge upwards of $800 for museum quality preservation, you can get the same high quality for around $150 – $250 if you do your homework. Most dry cleaners will charge as much, if not more, for just basic dry cleaning alone.
How long can I wait to have my dress cleaned and preserved?
Since stains can cause damage to a fabric over time, it is recommended that you have your dress professionally cleaned and preserved as soon after the wedding as is practical. Generally, you can safely wait up to six months after the ceremony. Some brides have waited longer, but it is not recommended as it may start to yellow, the fabric may begin to deteriorate and some stains may not come out at all as they settle into the fabric. Until you send in your gown to be cleaned and preserved, it is best to keep it in a dark (unexposed to sunlight), dry place, folded or rolled in a clean white sheet. Hanging your dress on a hanger is not recommended as it can cause stress to the fabric and create distortion. Do not store your gown in plastic such as a garment bag. Plastic can emit gases that will tend to yellow the fabric.
Will my dress be vacuum sealed if I have it preserved?
Vacuum sealing is never recommended for preserving fabrics of any kind. Professional textile curators always recommend that a fabric be allowed to “breathe”. Vacuum sealing traps moisture in the box, promoting mold and mildew growth, which will stain and weaken the fibers of your dress. If stored in plastic that is not acid free, as time passes it can accumulate gasses that will harm the fabric, causing it to yellow and deteriorate. A reputable preservation service will use special acid-free or PH balanced breathable cardboard and tissue, or museum quality muslin, to package your gown, as well as an acid free window (to see your gown) for these reasons.
How should I store my gown after I have it preserved?
Once your gown has been cleaned and preserved by a reputable professional it is also important that you continue to store your gown properly. Your gown should be stored in a room where the temperature and humidity levels are constant, such as a guest room or spare closet. Never store your dress in the attic or basement where there are extreme changes in temperature and/or humidity. The storage box should also lay flat if possible. If you decide to remove your gown from the preservation box, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when handling the gown to protect the fabric from natural oils on your hands. Check on your gown once a year to make sure it is still in good condition. Most companies will provide a guarantee against yellowing and will restore your gown for free if you have stored it properly.
Although most brides keep and treasure their wedding gowns for a lifetime, if should you decide to part with your precious gown, below are some resources for selling or donating your wedding dress that may help contribute to making someone else’s dream wedding come true.
Making Memories – Brides Against Breast Cancer
I Do Foundation