How to Store your Wedding Gown

How to store your wedding dress – short term

-        A few weeks or months

Hang or lay flat in the dress bag in a cool dry place. Out of the sun.

 

-        A year or so

Wrap the dress in a white cotton sheet and store it in a long flat acid-free cardboard box. This will protect it from dust and pets. Rolling the dress will leave less wrinkles but you can also fold it if necessary, using acid-free tissue paper. Try to slip the box under a bed in a cool dry place.

Before the wedding: handle your wedding dress with care.

The best way to ensure long-term preservation of your wedding dress is to take extra caution before anyone says “I do.” If your special day hasn’t occurred yet, follow these tips to keep the dress looking pristine during the time leading up to the ceremony:

Avoid stains: Of course you’ll want to steer clear of anything with stain potential on your wedding day, but did you know the pollen from flowers could be one of the biggest culprits? Specifically, the super-potent pollen found in lilies. Florists know to pull off the pollen bits with shears, but the problem comes when there are closed-up buds in your bouquet that open up right before you walk down the aisle. Double check that your florist removed the buds, and designate a bridesmaid to be on the lookout for buds that may need snipping.

  • Safe Transportation: Always transport the dress in its appropriate garment bag. For extra safety when traveling, wrap key areas like embellishments, with uncolored, acid-free tissue paper. And remember to save those labels: you’ll need them to show your wedding gown specialist when you’re ready to get it cleaned.
  • Wait until the last minute: Putting on your dress should be one of the last things you do before heading out the door. This way, you can avoid any food, drink, makeup or hairspray stains that may be part of the primping process (especially for silk and rayons, which are extremely water sensitive).

 

After the wedding: keep your dress safe.

IF you made it through your special day without any real damage, you’re in luck. Chances are, though, that the dress isn’t heading straight to the cleaners after the reception. To keep it safe in the meantime, follow this must-do’s:
  • Use a garment bag. Wrapping your dress in plastic traps moisture, which means mold and mildew, and plastic also emits fumes that can yellow your gown. Store your wedding dress in its proper garment bag away from light.
  • Lay it flat (or hang properly). Lay it as flat as possible. If you must hang your dress, hang it by the loops located inside (never the shoulder straps) to avoid stretching and sagging at the seams.
  • Leave cleaning to the experts. This is a tricky process. One wrong move could set the stain and make it worse. Remember that sometimes the best course of action is to leave the spot until it can be professionally treated.

Wedding dress hack: In the short-term time before you can consult with cleaning professionals, cover your gown in white cotton sheets. This will save it from dust, light and any other pesky predators.

Ideally, parents or a maid of honor can take care of dropping it off or sending it to be preserved. If not, cleaning your wedding dress should be the first thing you do when you return from the honeymoon.

Remember to consult the cleaning experts.

You may be overwhelmed deciding where to put your new wedding gifts, but don’t let that slow down your wedding dress preservation process. While you may choose to hold off for a bit, the experts recommend waiting no longer than six months to get your dress professionally cleaned (if it’s silk, you actually shouldn’t wait at all).

Some stains are unseen but can develop over time. For example, spills from clear beverages (alcohol or soda) dry clear but will oxidize and turn brown, and body perspiration on your dress lining can also discolor the dress and turn brittle over time.

It’s important to remember not to trust just anyone with cleaning your wedding gown. While your local cleaners may be great at getting the stains out of your jeans, they may not have the experience and resources to clean antique dresses, delicate fabric and embellishments. If you choose to bring your wedding dress to a professional cleaner, you can expect the following:

  • Thorough-but-delicate hand-washed cleaning (some businesses even use organic-only solvents, with no harmful chemicals or bleaches)
  • Treatment with special ingredients to remove visible stains
  • Pressing or steaming as needed

 

Be smart about where you store your wedding dress.

Once you’ve carefully packaged your dress, be sure to store it somewhere safe from extreme temperatures, light and humidity.

Aim for a cool, dark and dry environment with a relative humidity of 50 percent. This rules out attics and basements. Attics are too hot–so hot, in fact, that temperature could reach 140 degrees–and basements are damp and prone to flooding.

Many women chose to store their dresses under their bed or in a dry closet. If you don’t have any room to store your gown.

Open the wedding dress bag with caution.

Whether you’re taking out your dress to examine its state, eliminating the chance of permanent creases) or simply reminiscing with your loved ones, always handle it with proper care. Some tips to keep in mind:
  • Since your body produces natural oils, be sure to always wash your hands first.
  • Make sure you’re not wearing any lotions or perfumes, since these can also transfer onto your fabric — and always be careful of nail polish.
  • Invest in a pair of clean, white cotton gloves (which some preservationists provide). These will keep your dress white and sparkly.

Since you may be sharing these moments with fellow friends and family, always encourage them to take the same steps (especially with young children).

It’s never too late to start preservation.

While it’s better to start sooner than later, Kathy urges that it’s never too late to take care of a treasured heirloom. Unfortunately, though, it could cost you more. If your gown develops oxidized spots, it can be even more difficult to remove them. But here’s the good news: her business has been able to restore vintage gowns that have been in someone’s attic or closet for decades — so don’t be discouraged, it can be done.
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