Top Ten Things for Preserving Your Gown

When you chose your wedding gown, you could see it was the perfect wedding dress for you, and everyone agreed your wedding gown was just right for you. But after the wedding, how can you find the care that is just right for your bridal gown so it, too, can have a happy ever-after?

Look for someone who specializes in cleaning and preserving wedding gowns. When it comes to wedding gowns, most cleaners do not do the work themselves. They send wedding dresses off to someone else, often someone else in another state. Not good. You want a cleaner who takes responsibility for your wedding gown. Ask if the cleaner has been specially trained and if the cleaner is a member of an Association. The last thing you need is someone who is going to practice or “learn on the job” with your beautiful bridal gown.

How many years has the cleaner been in business? The cleaner may be very well trained, but years of experience count. The longer he or she has been in business the more likely he or she has seen a wedding gown similar to yours and knows how to handle a wedding gown as special as yours. What kind of solvent is the cleaner going to use on your bridal gown? A Specialist knows that some solvents are more gentle than others and will use the solvent best for your bridal gown’s fragile beading and other decorations.

Does the cleaner handle solvents responsibly? Some cleaners can even offer you carbon-free wedding gown cleaning and wedding gown preservation because they make donations to a non-profit organization that provides carbon offsets and climate solutions. See Zero Carbon Weddings. What kind of guarantee does the cleaner provide? Today or twenty-five years from today, who is going to honor the guarantee that your bridal gown will still be in pristine, ready-to-wear condition?

Will completely acid-free tissue be used to buffer the folds of your wedding gown when it is packed and will the container be completely acid-free? Do not settle for pH-neutral materials that can re-acidify over time—especially if a wedding gown is stored in a damp area where humidity can dissolve the neutralizer in the packing materials. Does the container allow the fabric to “breathe” and allow the fibers to expand and contract with changes in heat and humidity? Shrink-wrapping can trap moisture that may cause mildew and create an electrostatic charge that sets creases which no amount of pressing can remove.

What precautions does the cleaner take to protect your bridal gown during the cleaning process? During the packing process? Prongs, for example, around the beads on your wedding gown can snag the fabric during the cleaning process. When your wedding gown is packed, puffy bows or flowers should be stuffed or protected with a nest of tissue. Bust pads should also be removed because they emit off-gases that will yellow your wedding gown.

Is your wedding dress going to be clean? Will the cleaner remove all stains and “floor dirt” around the hem of your wedding gown? Does the cleaner guard against latent stains? Stains such as wine or ginger ale contain sugar and can dry clear. Over the years the sugar in latent stains caramelizes and turns brown. Such stains do not automatically dissolve during the cleaning process and require special care.
Believe it or not, cleaning is the most important part of the wedding gown preservation process so look for a Specialist who will allow you to personally inspect your bridal gown before it is packed in an acid-free wedding chest. And then look carefully to be sure your bridal gown will be as lovely years from now as it was the day you wore your very special gown.