What You Should Know About Preserving your Wedding Gown

Wedding Gown PreservationHave you given any thought to what you’re going to do with your wedding dress after the wedding? It’s an important question to consider.

After all, it took a lot of searching to find that perfect wedding dress, and the last thing you want to do is simply pop it in a garment bag and hide it at the back of your closet.

No, you’ll want to preserve it for posterity; so you can relive the memories, and perhaps even pass it along to a daughter (or future daughter-in-law) when the time comes for them to marry.

Wedding Gown Preservation

Considering the average cost of a wedding gown these days, you’ll want to treat your dress with the care it deserves. It’s not enough to simply have it dry cleaned and put into a box or garment bag to be stored away for years to come.

Wedding gowns are carefully constructed, using only the finest materials, and they require special attention when it comes to cleaning and storage. That’s why you need to consider taking your dress to a professional wedding gown preservationist. They’ll inspect the material and the embellishments (bead work, inlays, etc) to determine the safest and most effective cleaning techniques, ensuring that no damage is ever done to the dress itself.

This is an important point. While your regular dry cleaner may claim to be able to handle wedding gowns efficiently, the chemicals used in most dry cleaning processes can actually damage your dress.

A professional preservationist knows how to match the cleaning process to the materials, with an eye towards protecting the integrity of the dress. They also understand that there is more to storage than simply packing the dress away in a box or bag.

A professional preservationist will wrap your wedding gown in acid free tissue paper to preventing any yellowing or fading, and will then seal it in a museum quality archival box.

Finding a Preservationist

Finding a wedding gown preservationist will take some time, and a bit of research. Ideally, this is something you should do as part of the normal wedding planning process, and you’ll want to know who will be cleaning and archiving your dress before you walk down the aisle.

Remember, no matter how careful you are at the reception, your gown is likely to get stained. It may be a bit of Merlot from an over enthusiastic toast or some stray icing from the cake cutting ceremony, but it’s nearly impossible to leave a wedding reception without some tell tale signs.

The sooner you take your gown to a preservationist, the easier it will be for them to remove any stains and properly prepare it for storage. If you wait to find a preservationist until after the wedding, or worse yet after the honeymoon, you are giving the stains time to set and that could create problems down the line.

When it comes to finding an experienced wedding gown preservationist, the best place to start is with your designer. When you pick out your gown, ask the shop to recommend a local preservation service. They’re in the business to know who will treat their creations with the loving care they deserve.

Your wedding planner should also be able to recommend a number of preservationists, and may even have one or two that they use on a regular basis. Once you have a few recommendations in hand, you’ll want to make an appointment with each one so you can ask a few detailed questions about their services.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Gown Preservationist

Before you decide on a wedding gown preservation service, you’ll want to ask a few questions to ensure that you, and your gown, are protected. These are important topics to cover before you sign any contracts.

  • What type of cleaning process will be used? – The service you choose should have a variety of cleaning methods at their disposal. If they are simply a trumped up dry-cleaner than you may want to consider a different service.
  • Does the company guarantee their work? – Is there a warranty that covers the preservationist’s work, and how will you be reimbursed if any damage is down to the garment? This is a particularly important question. Some services will only refund the cost of the preservation service, and not the replacement cost of the gown itself.
  • Will you be required to sign any release forms? – Again, this is a particularly important question. Will you be expected to sign any release that absolves the company for any responsibilities should your dress be damaged in the cleaning process.
  • How much does the service cost? – This is a tricky question, as the cost of any preservation service should be based on the individual dress. Different materials and different stains require specialized care, and the preservationist you choose should inspect your gown before providing any quotes. Beware of any service that quotes a final price without first inspecting the garment. The cost of properly preserving a wedding gown can run anywhere from $250 to $1000, depending on the design, materials used, and level of staining, so leave room in your wedding budget to cover this expense.

Once you have decided on a suitable preservation service, remember to take your wedding dress in promptly after the wedding. If you are immediately heading off on your honeymoon, make this a job for the maid of honor.

Storing Your Wedding Gown

When your gown returns from the preservationist, you need to follow through by storing it properly. You will want to keep it in a cool dark place, such as a closet or under a bed. Avoid storing your gown in a hot attic or damp basement, as over time this can lead to damage and undo all of the preservationist’s hard work.

With all that you have invested in your wedding dress, both emotionally and financially, it deserves to be well cared for after the wedding. There will come a day when you want to relive those happy memories, or pass your wedding gown on to a daughter or other loved one.

While you may not be thinking about the future of your wedding gown now, it’s well worth making preservation part of the wedding planning process. And of course, give us at Belvedere a call with all your wedding planning needs!

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