Your wedding dress, veil, and keepsakes create cherished memories and preserving those pieces for future generations can be done with just a bit of care. The key to preserving a wedding gown or any type of fabric like baby clothes is to protect it from the elements, especially light and moisture. With proper handling, the gown and accessories should last for hundreds of years.
Every wedding gown should be cleaned before being stored away for more than a few weeks even if it doesn't look soiled. Perspiration, food and drink stains, and makeup stains can show up later and become much more difficult to remove. Look for a professional dry cleaner that specializes in wedding gown preservation. Be sure to point out any stains and any loose trim or buttons. Also discuss, if you know, how the trim is attached to the gown. Some designers use an adhesive that could dissolve during the dry cleaning process.
If the cleaner is going to pack your dress for storage, ask your cleaner to allow you to inspect your gown before it is packed in an acid-free box to help prevent contamination. This will prevent surprises when you open your sealed box years from now. There are horror stories of missing gowns and veils or the wrong dress packed away.
Check out these things you need to know about wedding dress preservation.
Wedding gowns are made of delicate materials
Let's face it, and wedding dresses aren't exactly built for wear and tear. With most gowns being constructed from materials such as lace, taffeta, and silk, it's important that your gown is properly stored over the years. Leaving your gown hanging in the closet for years is one of the most damaging places you can store your gown. The material gets stretched and damaged around the hanger and material can get frayed or damaged as the gown is brushed against and moved around. By storing your gown in a proper preservation box, seated on a bust to keep the gown's original form, you are protecting those delicate materials from wear and tear as your dress ages over the years.
Create a family heirloom to be worn again one day
Wedding dress styles have a tendency to come and go out of style over the years. From plunging necklines to sleeves to bustles, the current "in" style tends to come around full circle. Wouldn't it be great if when your daughter or granddaughter's big day came around, the dress you wore on your wedding would be back in style? What better way for them to honour you on their wedding day by wearing the same gown that you were married in. Having your gown cleaned and preserved is the only way to be sure your gown looks just as beautiful on their wedding day as it did for yours.
Air doesn't cause gowns to yellow, stains do
A preserved dress is typically stored in an airtight box where the oxygen has been sucked out and replaced with nitrogen. This prevents oxidation (aging, discolouration, etc.), which can happen to clothes that have been stored for several years. Wedding gown specialists recommend that you never break the seal, and if you do, that you should have it preserved and sealed back up again.
One of the top reasons for the yellowing of wedding gowns as they're stored over time is due to untreated stains over time. Out of all the stains, you can get on your wedding dress, and sugar is by far the most damaging. The compounds found in sugar cause the fibres in your dress to break down, giving the fabric a "yellowed" appearance over time. Other stains that can cause yellowing include sweat stains, grass stains and other food-related stains such as oil. Regardless of how you store your gown for the long term, failing to have your gown properly cleaned before storage can mean disaster for your dress years down the road.
It's never been more affordable to preserve your gown.
About 20 or so years ago, wedding dress preservation was reserved for the upper class as the process required special machines not normally provided by local dry cleaners. With the advent of the internet and mail-in wedding dress preservation, the service has been made available to all at a very affordable price. Mail-in preservation is safe, insured and guaranteed for over 100 years. Preserving your dress with a mail-in service will still save you $ 100's off having your gown preserved locally, and in many cases, local dry cleaners will outsource their cleaning to the same service online companies use with a steep markup.
The gown has a sentimental value
"Preserve your memory" you can read about almost every slogan advertising preservation companies. But what does it preserve? The stress of the wedding preparation? The countless hours of a nervous hunt for a dress and the drama with the wedding dress alteration? As mentioned before- it looks better in the movies than in real life. Also, I came across the statement that your wedding dress is probably the piece of clothing that you looked the best in within your life – a little sad, isn't it? Your whole life versus one night. I don't want to feel that I'm going downhill from now. Why would I hold on to something only because I looked so good in it, even though I won't get to wear it again? To look and feel fabulous every day of my life – that's my goal. Besides that, I can only imagine my irritation if I tried my dress in a few years and it wouldn't fit. Let's face it. We gain weight with age. We have babies, work, family to take care of. Will I have time to visit the gym every day as I did before my wedding? Probably not. And we all know many of us to starve ourselves before the big day. We know it's not healthy, but we do it anyway to fit into that dress. I could do it for the week before the wedding, but never again. So why hold on to something to remind me of my "glory days."
Time Is of the Essence
Professional cleaning is the first step in wedding dress preservation, and the sooner you can get the wedding dress to the preservationist or the dry cleaners, the better. Brides often wait up to six weeks to take their dresses to be cleaned, and that's no good. By that time, stains will have had time to really set in.
When does it make sense to clean/preserve your wedding dress?
Let's talk positives and see some cases when wedding dress preservation does make sense.
Maybe you want to have a renewal of your vows and wish to look the same, or even better than at your wedding day or maybe it just means a lot to you, and you want to pass on the heirloom to your daughter.
Maybe your dress is expensive, and you don't plan on holding on to it, but you would like to try to resell it on one of the many preowned wedding dress websites, or even locally on craigslist. Cleaning it ahead of time might make it more attractive to potential buyers. We could imagine many brides wouldn't want to take the risk of buying an uncleaned dress since it could have stains that won't come out or get destroyed while cleaning. On the other hand, you run the risk of destroying yourself while cleaning and then not having the ability to resell. We would probably first try to sell it as is because there is always the chance no one buys it.
Check out our wedding dress cleaning in Melbourne for more information.
How to save money on your wedding dress preservation?
If you thought it through and decided you can't let go of that bridal gown, there are still ways to save money on preservation. Instead of using a preservation company, simply have the dress cleaned by a good reputable dry cleaner. Make sure that the cleaners have experience working on wedding dresses. Look at reviews of the place, read up a little about the process itself so that you can ask educated questions and make a decision based on their answers. Then, purchase a ph neutral box and tissues and pack the dress yourself. Also, if your dress isn't made of silk, you can try washing it yourself. Apparently, this is what many cleaning places do, it's called wet cleaning and can save you a ton of money if you decide to do it yourself (always check the material your dress is made of and carry instructions on the tag). The instruction of how to clean your dress yourself is
Also, if your dress isn't made of silk, you can try washing it yourself. Apparently, this is what many cleaning places do, it's called wet cleaning and can save you a ton of money if you decide to do it yourself (always check the material your dress is made of and carrying instructions on the tag). Here are some instructions on how to clean your dress yourself.
You can also try to use one of the wedding dress preservation kits. The cost of these varies from $100 to $200. They seem very convenient, all you have to do is send the dress away in a prepaid box. The cleaning and preserving usually take 4-6 weeks. After that, you receive your preserved dress in a ready to store box.
For more information on the cost of wedding dress preservation check out our blog post.