Although a wedding dress is often one of the most expensive items of clothing that a woman will ever own, many gowns are stored with little care after the big day.
If you plan to keep or sell your wedding dress, take the time to clean and store it properly. To help you, we've put together some straightforward guidelines for cleaning, packaging and storing a wedding dress.
Cleaning the dress
In order to best preserve your wedding dress, get it dry-cleaned as soon after the wedding as possible – any stains or marks on the fabric need to be removed before they have time to set in. If you're leaving for your honeymoon straight after the wedding, ask someone else to take it to the dry-cleaners for you.
However, if you can't get the dress cleaned right away, store it in a 100 per cent cotton bag – NOT a plastic one – to allow the fabric to breathe. Hang the bagged dress on a padded silk hanger. It's best to avoid painting, varnished or metal hangers because these could leave a residue on the dress.
Packing a wedding dress for storage
All packaging materials used to store a wedding dress should be acid-free. This includes the box in which it's stored. Choose a heavy-duty cardboard box with a tight-fitting lid to protect the gown from dust, insects and light. If you've opted for a dress box with a window, choose an acetate screen over a plastic one.
Always make sure that your hands are clean before handling the dress. Fold the dress carefully and loosely, to avoid creasing. As you fold, layer the dress with white, acid-free tissue paper to prevent any beads from snagging on the fabric. Always use colourless tissue paper for wrapping – the dye in the coloured paper could transfer onto the dress.
When folding, wrap the sleeves under the bodice, and then fold the skirt up over the bodice. Finally, wrap the folded dress in unbleached muslin before putting it in a box.
You can store your veil in the same box as your wedding dress, but make sure that a layer of tissue paper separates the two. Store shoes and other accessories in another box to prevent them from damaging the dress fabric.
If you want to know more about wedding dress preservation boxes, we have you covered.
Storing a wedding dress
Store your wedding dress somewhere that isn't humid, prone to damp or easily accessible to insects. To best preserve your dress, keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent the fabric from yellowing over time. Also keep your dress separate, in its own box, to prevent contact with wardrobes, drawers and other clothing items from affecting the fabric.
Once you've packed the dress away, it's a good idea to check its condition every six months, and repackage it each year to prevent permanent creases.
With these guidelines, one day you'll be able to show off your wedding dress to your own children or even grandkids!
Storing Your Wedding Dress Before The Big Day
Before your big day, you may only have to dress for a few hours or a couple of days. You might be tempted to leave it out somewhere so you can admire it whenever you want. Or you might try and keep it hidden from your husband-to-be in the back of a wardrobe or even up in the attic away from curious kids and cats. Keeping out of reach of the kiddies, good idea! Keeping it in the attic, not so much.
It might be tempting to keep it stored in the spare room so you can take a look at it and try it on as much as you want before the wedding. This isn't the best idea, though. Taking your dress in and out of the dress bag increases the risk of damaging it — every bride's worst nightmare!
Likewise, keeping it stuffed at the back of a wardrobe isn't a great idea as you'll end up having other items push up against it resulting from it in getting bashed about and maybe even catching on something!
And what about keeping it in the attic? That's a big no!
Dust for one, rodents for two, uncontrolled heat and humidity for three. Need we say more?
The best way to store your wedding dress in the countdown to the big day is in a breathable dress bag (don't even think about using plastic — explanation here), hanging up on a hanger in a safe, clean, and dry space.
Also, make sure your dress isn't in direct sunlight and is protected against any drastic changes in temperature or humidity. So, away from doors and windows and chimneys and anything else that creates drafts.
For a lot of people, this could be in a safe area in your spare room. However, if you don't have a spare room or ideal space in your home, you can always consider hiring a personal storage unit.
If you keep your dress in a dedicated storage unit, it will be as perfect and beautiful as the first day you tried it on.
Check out this article for more information on storing your wedding dress before and after the wedding.
Storing Your Wedding Dress (Happily Ever) After
How to store your wedding dress probably isn't the first thing you think of the morning after your wedding day.
Whether it's down to a tired head or the fact you are straight off to the Maldives, your beautiful dress has taken a back seat. And we forgive you for that!
But we hope, at least, it will be rehung back up in its dress bag and put somewhere safe until your return.
So off you go on a honeymoon for a bit of rest and relaxation!
And now you're back! Glorious tan and a wonderful husband in tow, it's time to give your wedding dress it is happily ever after.
So how do you prepare your dress for decades of primary storage?
First things first, get it professionally dry cleaned. You might think it's fine, you didn't even spill any of that red wine down it on the day, but even a tiny stain from a dropped crumb of cheesecake can get worse over time.
So go to a professional that specialises in wedding dress dry cleaning and wipe out any hint of contamination.
Oh and if you haven't already ditched any plastic coverings, do so now! Plastic is the enemy for delicate clothes being stored long term.
For long-term storage, you can keep it in the same place as you did pre-wedding. Find somewhere safe and free from drafts and hand up to it.
That said, there is a better suggestion. Buy a beautiful wedding dress box.
Find a box that's big, sturdy and as beautiful as the dress itself. Pay particular attention to the following things for stress-free storage:
- It is a breathable box with good air circulation
- It is secure and sturdy
- It is the correct size for your dress
- It is pH neutral (acid-free)
When placing your dress in your new wedding dress box, be sure to use acid-free tissue placed between the layers of your dress as you fold it as this will prevent yellowing.
Now you can store the box in a safe, clean and dry room, again away from any temperature extremities or direct sunlight. Think spare room, out-of-reach place in your wardrobe or a personal self-storage unit.
And don't forget to check in on it every so often. This not only lets you know it's safe, but it also prevents creases from setting in. And really, who needs an excuse to marvel at its beauty from time to time?
Box It or Bag It?
While storing your wedding dress in a self-storage unit is a great option, the last thing you want to do is just put the dress into storage without proper packaging. Over time, storage units collect dust, which can damage a wedding dress in the long run. With this in mind, you can use a box or a bag to make sure that your dress is safely stored away.
Boxing a wedding dress is the preferred form of storage, as it lets the gown lie flat and uses acid-free tissue paper in the folds of the dress to prevent decay. Brides may choose to box their gowns at home or have them boxed professionally. In either case, a boxed gown should be removed and refolded.
If you prefer not to box your dress, the dress can be bagged and hung. However, plastic bags should never be used for long-term storage, even if that's the kind of bag your dress came home in. Over time, chemicals from plastic dress bags can leach out and discolour the fabric of your gown. Instead, go with a cotton garment bag with a well-padded hanger.
Every little girl dreams of walking down the aisle in the perfect wedding dress. Finding the perfect dress can make or break your wedding. So you scour every rack in every store to try on countless different styles until you find it – "the one". But what should you do with it until your wedding, which is months away? How will you be sure that your dress will be kept safe? (And we mean safe from damage, not safe from your finance's curious eyes!) Here are some easy steps you can take to make sure your wedding dress makes it to your wedding day without damage.
Remove the plastic
The first rule of thumb any preservationist will suggest is to remove the dress from plastic if it is stored for longer than a few days. Plastic typically does not allow fabrics to breathe and has the potential for staining, as chemicals break down and gasses are emitted. It is best to use a cloth garment bag or plain cotton sheets to wrap your gown.
Control the climate
Your dress should typically be kept in the same temperature/environment that you would find comfortable (no, this does not mean that your dress should travel to Vegas with you for your bachelorette party!) Basements and attics typically are not the best places for storage, as the air may be damp and musty. Try to keep your dress in a spare room or bedroom where the temperature and humidity will not fluctuate, and the dress can remain out of direct sunlight.
Out of sight, out of mind
Once your gown is properly stored away, try to resist the temptation to try it on or remove it from the bag (unless you need alterations). Your chances of staining and potential oil marks increase with each time your dress is handled. Makeup and deodorant are some of the biggest culprits for staining when trying on your dress. If you must try on your gown for friends or family, be sure to remove your makeup and deodorant first.
Get rid of the wrinkles
A few days before your wedding, carefully remove your wedding dress from its storage location. Using a padded silk hanger, hang the dress somewhere high so all wrinkles and creases can drop out. If the dress still has a few stubborn wrinkles a day or two before the wedding day, you can hang the dress in the bathroom while a hot shower is running. Of course, you'll want to be extra cautious that the dress is hung away from the shower, so it doesn't get wet. If the wrinkles still give you trouble, consider asking a local seamstress or dry cleaner for help. Or if you are already out of town for the big day, many hotels and wedding facilities have steamers available for you to use just before your ceremony.
To Hang or Not to Hang?
Logic would tell brides to put your wedding dress on a hanger and to hang it up somewhere safe. However, before you grab your nearest coat hanger, consider the weight of your dress – does it have heavy beading, multiple layers of fabric or just a single layer of satin? Unless your dress is a few light layers (think satin or silk), it is best to store your dress flat, wrapped in a cotton sheet, a room or space that isn't a "high traffic area" in your house such as under the bed or on the top shelf of a spare closet. When storing your dress, be cautious of heat sources and pets. Placing your dress in a heat source's path or an area accessible to pets could lead to some damage to your dress you could have prevented.
Hanging or Bagged Wedding Gown Preservation
This newer wedding gown preservation method is not so new. It is similar to what museums have used for storing heirloom costumes and gowns for years. This method is an excellent option, as it keeps the dress protected from dust and light. The gown remains un-folded, so permanent creasing risks are reduced.
The cotton wedding dress storage bag has the best air circulation, which helps keep the humidity level around the wedding gown stable. This assists in protecting the gown from mould and mildew. A bagged gown is the easiest to inspect periodically and requires no re-folding as the boxed method does.
Strapless and spaghetti-strapped gowns, as well as heavy gowns, should be reinforced with twill tape suspenders to add support and eliminate any damage from long-term hanging. A padded hanger is also essential for long-term storage if the gown has sleeves.
It is important to remember that a clean dress should not be left in the dry-cleaner's plastic wrap or put back into a plastic garment bag. Remember, most plastics are an enemy to textiles. A cotton wedding gown storage bag is naturally acid-free. And remember the bagged gown should always be kept in climate-controlled conditions. This is easily done is most interior closets.
Decide whether you want to have the gown professionally boxed or hung or if you are going to handle it yourself. The following professional procedures should help you protect this heirloom.
If you choose to have the gown boxed by a company that specialises in preserving wedding gowns, they will likely use an acid-free wedding box, preferably not simply one with an acid-free coating as it will not provide as much protection in the long run. They should pad the bodice and folds with acid-free tissue. Fabrics like rayon or polyester should use buffered tissue while natural material like silk should use unbuffered tissue. If you have the gown boxed, do not get it sealed. A dress that has been folded will need to be taken out and rearranged every year or so to prevent folds from creasing and permanently damaging the dress. An added benefit of storing your dress in an unsealed container is that you may take it out, try it on and enjoy it occasionally.
Choosing to have a wedding dress preservation company professionally hang the gown will help prevent wrinkles and will require less care in the future. Since it will not be folded, creases will not develop; therefore, the dress will not have to be removed from its packaging every couple of years to be rearranged. The dress should be placed in a cloth bag that contains no dye and hung on a thickly padded hanger. Dresses with narrow straps or none at all should be reinforced to prevent breakage. The bodice may be filled with acid-free tissue to help it retain its shape.
Check the dress at least once a year for problems. A spilled drink may be invisible when it dries, but over time it can oxidise and turn the area where it spilled brown. Have such spots cleaned right away. They can become harder to remove once they have been there awhile. Normally, they will show up in the first year after the wedding.
When removing the gown from storage, even for a little while, wear plain white cotton gloves to prevent sweat or dirt from leaving residue on the dress. This could lead to stains later. In addition, perspiration might cause the cloth to become brittle.
After the wedding dress has been cleaned and preserved, keep it in a location where the temperature is cool, and the air is dry. Minimise light. Ultraviolet radiation can hurt textiles over a long period of time. A dehumidifier may help, or you may want to lease a self-storage unit with climate control features that allow you to keep the temperature low and the air dry to protect better all your stored clothing, most especially this one-of-a-kind symbol of your family's beginning that when preserved, may bring happiness to generations.