How to preserve your Wedding Gown
Some Brides want to keep their Wedding Gown, some don't. If you have had a big Gown you may not have anywhere to store it and decide to sell or give to Charity. Think carefully if you do want to keep it, sadly these days Second Hand Gowns don't hold a lot of value and many Brides regret selling their Gown. Read on to find out how easy it is to store your Gown and you can showcase it to generations for years to come!.
Some Brides have their Gown made into a christening gown which is a lovely idea and makes a stunning Christening outfit with beautiful memories behind it.
It is best to preserve your Gown yourself. The cleaning part is usually best left to a professional, take pictures of your Gown before cleaning and inspect it carefully and tell the cleaners that you have done to ensure the best care of your Gown.
It is recommended that you thoroughly inspect your dress after cleaning and before it is stored. This is important because should you find a spot or stain was missed or a repair needs made it’s much better to do it now rather than 20 years from now after it’s gotten worse or even beyond repair.
Preserving the dress in the following way means you can open the box and have a look whenever you wish. You SHOULD air out and inspect your dress yearly throughout the future. Fabric needs to breath so airing it out occasionally is good for the life of your dress.
The dress should be stored in the box on its own. Don't add in the veil, headress etc, store these elsewhere.
Materials you will need:
- A place to keep your dress,
- Your Clean wedding gown, cleaning advice below
- Clean flat sheets, to keep your work area clean
- White cotton gloves and clean hands
- Acid neutral or acid free box, either are fine
- Acid free non buffered tissue paper
- Cotton muslin cover or 3 yards of muslin, optional
1. Where to store your Gown?
Find a good place to store your gown before you start. You will need a space where the temperature is moderate and consistent, with low humidity. A dark location is best, it needs to be away from direct sunlight. A shelf in a dark dry cupboard is the best place for gown storage. Basements, lofts and attics are the worst places to store heirloom items. The basement’s moisture and mildew attract insects; both will quickly destroy your item. The dramatic temperature changes in an attic or loft will weaken fibres.
Get a box to store it in. You will want an acid neutral or acid free archival quality box to store it in. Don't hang your Gown on a hanger in a wardrobe as the weight of the gown will pull on the hanging points and over time the threads and fabric will break. In a box gravity will not be a factor working against your dress. Measure where you are going to store your box to be sure the box will fit.
2. Your Gown
Note: if you are getting ready to preserve an older gown it may be best to just air it out and clean it. A gown that’s old may not stand up to cleaning, so it is best to leave it alone.
Recruit a Bridesmaid or your Mum or a friend to be in charge of taking your dress to be cleaned. Take pictures of your Gown and inspect it. If you see any marks, pin a small piece of paper carefully to those marks (if the pin will mark the Gown, don't do this!) and write on the paper (before pinning!) what the mark is. Your Cleaners will find this really helpful when removing the marks.
You should talk to your cleaner before the wedding so you can ask questions and choose the right one. How do they respond to your questions? Can you tell they know about wedding gowns? Are they open and willing to let you inspect your dress on site once it’s cleaned? What are their policies?
Almost ready! When you pick up your gown inspect it on site. Take someone with you to verify your inspection. If there is a problem let them know and have it taken care of right away. That’s why you should talk to them ahead of time, so at this point you both already know each other’s expectations.
3. Packing Your Gown
Firstly vacuum or sweep or mop the floor and then spread out clean flat sheets. You need a clean work area so your dress stays clean while you pack it up. Now go wash your hands. Even if they look clean hands have natural oils that can get on the dress and cause trouble down the road. White cotton gloves will give you and your dress protection.
Line the bottom of the box with acid free tissue. Place the lower skirt end of your dress in first. Line up the bottom of the dress skirt with the edge of the box, let the train hang over one end and the top bodice end hang over the other end.
Place tissue paper over the bottom of the dress and then fold in the sides of the skirt. The tissue paper should be right where it folds to cushion it and prevent deep creases. Cover that part with tissue and then fold up the train if you have one. Keep layering tissue paper at each fold you make.
Keep folding it with tissue until you have all the dress in the box except for the bodice.
Stuff and support the bodice. It can be stuffed with balled up acid free tissue instead. Pack the bust so it looks like someone is wearing your Gown.
The bust area may need more fill, so just add balled up tissue as needed. If you have sleeves stuff them with tissue as well.
Zip or button up your dress and lay it back in the box. Surround it with tissue to keep it in place and then cover it with tissue paper. That’s it! Close up your box and put it in the place that you carefully chose to store it.
4. Not quite finished!
As time goes on keep an eye on where your Gown is stored: Can pets or children get to it that you didn't have before, Is there now any plumbing or any natural hazards likely to occur, if so move it accordingly.
Once a year take your dress out. Hang it up (or lay it out) for a day in a safe place, no pets or children. Inspect it for any signs of spotting or damage. It’s best to take care of it now rather than 10 years from now when it’s worse or beyond repair. Repack it folding it a bit different to avoid permanent creases.
There are no 100% guarantees when it comes to preserving wedding gowns, but following these steps will increase the odds your dress will be in the best possible condition for years to come.
These same steps can be used to preserve your veil and christening gowns.
Lastly! ... Have the most amazing married life :)