The very idea of your wedding dress getting dirty can send chills up a bride's spine. But the reality is that between all of the running around between venues, heading outside for photos, the chance of off weather, and drunk wedding guests, there are plenty of opportunities for that pristine dress to become dirty during the wedding day. Having photographed hundreds of weddings, we've seen it all.
We understand if you're not willing to lose the photographs taken in nature or have your heart set on a wedding outdoors, so instead, we're here to offer tips on how to keep your precious bridal gown clean throughout the big day.
Even if you treat your wedding dress with care during the big day, it will still pick up some stains when you wear it. The natural oils and sweat of your body will enter the fabric even if you shower just before putting it on, and since the hem of a wedding dress usually drags along the floor, it can pick up all kinds of dirt, dust, and spills along the base. Because a wedding dress is supposed to be pure white, the dry cleaner needs to pay special attention to finding and removing every hint of a stain.
Use a stain-protecting spray along the bottom hem
However, this can be risky, as if you spray too much, there may be a mark. It's best to have a professional take care of this before the wedding, but at the very least, you should test on a scrap of fabric before spraying directly on your dress.
Wear a petticoat to lift the hem
The extra inch or so will be a lifesaver while walking around or standing for photos, but you can remove it for the ceremony or reception if you don't like the look.
It won't cost you a fortune, and in fact, will likely save you from all sorts of unsightly stains (think grass, wet asphalt, dirt, etc.) that are bound to occur during outdoor pre-wedding activities. Worn under your wedding gown to gently lift the hem off the ground, a bridal petticoat is perfect for relatively stationary photoshoots and moving to the site where the photos are to be taken. This way, your dress can at least remain somewhat pristine until the ceremony begins.
How far off the ground should your wedding dress be? Check out our blog posts.
Stand on a sheet
Most wedding parties take photos outside. But as you know the grass, dirt, and even pavement can be filthy. Using a sheet is the easiest (also really cheap) way to keep the bottom of the dress clean. The bride can even have a waiting area on the sheet, while the photographer is taking shots of the wedding party. But remember to bring a sheet to put under your dress, make sure it matches the colour of the dress. Most times photographers can hide the extra bits of the sheet slightly under the dress, without it being obvious that you're standing on a sheet.
A lesser-known photographer trick is to have a white sheet for the bride to stand on when shooting outdoors, protecting the dress from the elements.
If you're in a pinch and didn't plan ahead by purchasing a petticoat, much the same thing can be accomplished by wrapping a sheet around the bottom of your gown. Moreover, if your photographer is shooting outdoors, he or she might also cover the area with a sheet or something else to protect the dress.
Whether you're using a sheet or not, you'll still need help keeping the dress clean as you move around outside. It may seem like a demanding task for them, but technically part of the duty of a bridesmaid is to tend to the bride, and this is another way they can help you.
Hire a seamstress to remain on-site
While this option may seem indulgent to some, it's easily the most effective. After your photos are taken, but before the vow exchange, a bridal dresser can steam clean your gown, as well as make any necessary repairs that may be needed after taking portraits outside. Hire someone for the whole day for any fixes throughout an alfresco celebration.
Get suggestions from friends and call ahead to describe your dress and get an estimate. Typically there may be adjustments needed to the hem, bodice, or sleeve length and a bustle added. Also, consider a wedding gown dry cleaner that offers an alteration service. If you have used their services before, you may be more comfortable with this choice. You can also have whoever you are considering tackle another alteration for you beforehand, to see the quality of their work.
Wedding dress preservationists will do everything for you. They'll note the material and quality of your dress. They'll locate the best cleaning products for the job. They deodorize it, wash the dirt from the hem, and remove the small, invisible sweat and oil stains that cause discolouration over time. Then, they'll package it properly, and hand your dress back to you in one big, pretty box.
That being said, depending on the material and design of your dress, you may be able to clean it yourself. If your dress has zero embellishments and isn't made with delicate fabrics like silk, taffeta, or lace, you can follow these steps to clean it.
Spot-clean the small stains on your dress using a wet cloth and stain remover. Let the remover sit for a few minutes, then dab the stain away with the cloth. A word of caution: Different types of stains require different cleaning agents. So do different types of fabrics. So know the stain and material you're working with before you start. If you want to be extra safe, test your stain remover on a tiny area on the underside of your dress to make sure it doesn't ruin the material.
While spot cleaning, place a piece of cloth between each layer of the dress, so the stains and cleaning products don't transfer.
Use a hairdryer to blast the stain once you remove it. (Air-drying may cause water rings.)
Wash the dirty dress hem in the bathtub with warm water and mild soap. To do this, you'll need to lay the top part of the dress on the floor on a clean towel, so it stays out of the water. Let the hem soak for a couple of hours, then use a cloth or toothbrush dipped in detergent to gently scrub the hem before rinsing.
To clean the bodice of the dress, turn it inside out and use a toothbrush and detergent to gently scrub sweat stains.
As a final step, rinse the entire dress in a bathtub with warm water. Gently swish it around, then fold it over a clothes rack to dry.
Alternatively, contact us and find out about our wedding dress dry cleaning services.