Originally Published: March 1, 2012 3:36 p.m.
The happiest day (so far) has come and gone. You are on your way to your honeymoon destination. And your perfect wedding gown that took so much time and effort to get just right has been stuffed back into its plastic bag, stains and all, where it will probably stay for the next 2 to 5 years. This unfortunate scenario happens with over 50% of the gowns that dry cleaners are asked to clean and preserve.
Most brides-to-be when asked what they intend to do with their gown after the wedding say they have not given it any thought. This is certainly understandable given the multitude of details and decisions they face. Gown preservation is a detail that a best friend or mother should be asked to handle. Cleaning and preservation can be a wedding gift from an individual or even a group that the bride will always remember.
Preservation should start when the gown has been decided on. Make sure that the gown is cleanable. Colored fabrics may bleed or fade. Beads, sequins, and trim may be glued on making the gown impossible to clean.
When the gown arrives at home the plastic bag should be discarded. The gases from the plastic can yellow fabrics over time and it is too easy to reuse the bag if it is kept. A fabric bag or a white cotton sheet should be used for storage.
Care to avoid makeup, perspiration, and other stains during fittings and photos before the wedding can help the wedding day go smoothly. The wedding ceremony and reception is not the time to worry about stains. Have fun and enjoy the day.
Keep in mind that many stains such as food, beverages, and body oils are all but invisible until the have begun to turn yellow and set. Dirt, grass, food, makeup, and oil stains can transfer and spread over time.
Within a week the gown should be taken to your dry cleaner. Due to the wide variety of materials, the number of layers, the size of the train, and the amount of beading and lace, gowns are as individual as their brides. Also any stains or repairs must be considered in any estimate for cleaning and preservation. Any estimate for cleaning given over the phone is at best a guess.
After cleaning the gown should be kept at household temperatures in a dry environment. Long term storage on a hanger can be a problem. Heavier gowns can distort and stretch over years and be flattened in overcrowded closets. A gown properly stain-treated, cleaned, pressed, shaped, and folded into an acid-free storage box will ensure that the gown will last a lifetime.