Your wedding dress will serve as a reminder of the happiness of your wedding day. It may also be a great gift for your daughter or even a display at a significant anniversary.
Unfortunately, without the proper care after your wedding, your dress will not remain as pristine as you would like. Over time, food and beverage stains, mildew, heat, stretched seams, yellowing, dust, permanent creases and light can all alter the appearance of your dress.
This is where wedding gown preservation takes over.
Inspect, Repair and Clean
The first step in preserving your wedding gown is to have it thoroughly cleaned by a Certified Wedding Gown Specialist (TM). This first step of the preservation process includes:
- Inspecting the dress for damage, such as hems or seams that are lose. You may need to repair the dress before cleaning but not always. Since the dress will be cleaned, damage could become worse if left undone.
- Inspecting the hem line for dirt, especially a floor-length dress. The hem may require pre-spotting before the entire dress is cleaned.
- Inspecting the entire dress for typical food and beverage stains and possible pre-spotting of those areas.
- Cleaning the entire wedding dress
The cleaning process should remove the substances that could damage your dress over time. Food stains like cake icing and beverage stains like wine or cola will caramelize over time and cause unsightly stains that may become permanent.
Depending on the type of fabric and beading, your dress should be dry cleaned or wet cleaned. Silk gowns typically require dry cleaning while polyester gowns typically do best with wet cleaning. If the fabric in uncertain or the care label has been removed, an expert in wedding gown preservation will test the fabric to determine what cleaning method will work the best.
After Cleaning Comes Preservation
Once your gown is totally clean, it needs to be carefully placed in a specially designed archival-quality acid-free wedding gown chest. This is a critical step to maintain your dress over the years. Here are some more tips about wedding dress preservation:
Inspect the Dress Before It's Boxed - It's a good practice to inspect your dress before it is paced in the preservation chest. Make sure it is your dress check for problem areas to see how they came through the cleaning process.
Inspect the Dress in the Future - It's OK to remove your dress from the box and inspect it every five years years or so. In fact, it's a good practice to inspect it. If you notice any problems developing with the dress, like yellowing or stains becoming noticeable, allow your wedding gown specialist to help cure any developing problems.
I have heard of some wedding gown specialists "voiding" any guarantee if the seal on the chest is broken. Ask your specialists about that before agreeing to her service.
Even if the preservation chest is sealed with tape, you should inspect it every few years. the tape helps keep insects out...but it shouldn't keep you from inspecting the dress.
When inspecting your dress, be sure your hands are freshly washed or wear clean, cotton gloves while handling it. The oils from your hands can develop into stains on the dress over time.
Cushion the Folds - When boxed, the folds in your gown should be cushioned by layers of acid-free tissue, which will provide protection from developing permanent creasing while being stored in the preservation box. If you inspect the dress is the years after the initial preservation, use the same acid-free tissue to return the dress to the preservation chest.
Ask your specialist to show you how to place your dress in the preservation chest.
If you follow this advice, you have a great chance of maintaining your dress for decades.