Your wedding dress is likely one of the most important pieces of clothing you will ever own. It represents one of the happiest and most special days of your life – your wedding day! For many brides, preserving their wedding dress after the big event is a top priority. However, properly storing a wedding dress can be tricky. Should you keep it in the box from the bridal salon? Hang it in your closet? Or use a special garment bag? This article will provide tips on the best practices for storing your wedding dress to protect it from damage, discoloration, and deterioration. We’ll go over the pros and cons of different storage methods and materials. Read on for advice from wedding dress preservation experts!
Should You Store Your Wedding Dress in the Original Box?
Many brides instinctively want to store their wedding dress in the original box from the bridal salon where they purchased the gown. While this may seem like a logical choice, it is not actually the best method for long-term storage for a few key reasons:
- The box may be acidic and damage fabric over time.
- Creases can become set in folded areas of the dress.
- The weight of the dress’s layers and embellishments may cause the gown to become misshapen if left folded for too long.
The box the dress came in is designed for short term storage and transport from the store. For preservation that will span months or years, a more archival method is recommended by experts.
Hanging Your Wedding Dress: Pros vs. Cons
What about hanging your wedding dress in your closet like any other garment? This is another approach many brides consider for storing their gowns after the wedding. There are some advantages to hanging storage, but also some drawbacks to be aware of.
Pros of Hanging Storage
- Keeps the shape and structure of the dress’s bodice and skirt.
- Prevents creases from long-term folding.
- Allows you to easily view and access the dress whenever you want.
- Does not require any special supplies or storage conditions.
Cons of Hanging Storage
- Exposes the dress to light which can cause fading over time.
- Does not protect the dress from dust or dirt around your house.
- Hanging puts strain on delicate fabrics like lace and beading.
- The dress may shift and lose its form without proper support.
Overall, while hanging your wedding dress does have some benefits, most preservation specialists advise against relying solely on hanging for long-term storage due to the lack of protection from environmental elements that can damage the dress over time. Using a garment bag in conjunction with hanging can help mitigate some of these risks.
Should You Store Your Wedding Dress in a Garment Bag?
Using a high quality, acid-free garment bag specifically designed for wedding dress storage is one of the best methods recommended by experts. A garment bag allows you to keep the dress hanging to maintain the bodice and skirt shape, while also providing all-over protection.
Here are some key benefits of storing your wedding dress in a garment bag:
- Fabric protects from dust, dirt, and moisture.
- Opaque or uv-resistant materials prevent light damage and fading.
- Breathable fabric like muslin or cotton reduces risk of mildew or mold.
- Acid-free and pH neutral materials prevent deterioration.
- Some styles have built-in support at the bodice and/or skirt.
- Clear window allows you to view dress without unsealing the bag.
- Optional archival acid-free tissue paper adds further structure.
Garment bags are available in different sizes, materials, and price points to suit any wedding dress storage needs. For very elaborate or heavy gowns, a double garment bag provides even more protection and support. As long as you choose an archival quality bag, this method provides the ideal storage environment for preserving your treasured wedding dress.
What To Look For In a Quality Garment Bag
- Acid-free, pH neutral materials (cotton, polyester, or muslin are common options)
- Soft, smooth seams that won’t snag delicate fabrics
- Padding and support at key points like hanger, waist, and shoulders
- High quality zipper or envelope enclosure
- Transparent viewing window (optional but useful)
- Backed by a guarantee or warranty
- Professional preservationist recommended
Avoid low quality bags with slick, plastic linings as they do not breathe and can lead to mildew growth. Also steer clear of bags treated with pesticides or chemicals. Look for a Wedding Dress Preservation Bag that meets archival standards for the best protection.
What Temperature & Humidity Is Best For Storing Wedding Dresses?
In addition to choosing the right storage materials and method, optimal temperature and humidity levels play a key role in preserving your wedding gown. Here are some tips on creating ideal climate conditions:
- The ideal temperature range is about 65-72°F / 18-22°C.
- Aim for a humidity level around 50-55%.
- Use a dehumidifier to lower humidity and reduce risk of mold.
- In hotter climates, keep the dress in an air conditioned closet or room.
- Garment bags provide some insulation from drastic temperature swings.
- Avoid attics, basements, or garages which have extreme highs and lows.
- Monitor conditions with a hygrometer and adjust as needed.
Stable, moderate temperature and humidity encourage the long-lasting preservation of fabric, beading, lace and other delicate materials commonly used in wedding dresses.
Should You Have Your Wedding Dress Professionally Cleaned Before Storing?
Having your wedding dress professionally cleaned is highly recommended before storing it away for the long term. Even if the dress looks pristine, sweat, body oils, perfume, and microscopic dirt will accummulate during your wedding day. Letting these linger and potentially set into the fabric can cause irreversible damage over time.
Here’s why professional post-wedding cleaning is advised:
- Removes unseen dirt, stains, and oils embedded in the fabric.
- Specialty techniques and solutions safely clean delicate materials.
- Process removes potential mold, mildew, and insect eggs/larvae.
- Treatment with acid-free tissue paper and original shape restored.
- Professionals inspect for damage needing repairs.
- Fresh, clean start for preservation storage.
Be sure to specifically select a cleaner experienced in properly handling wedding dresses. This specialty cleaning provides peace of mind that your gown is as pristine as possible before storage.
Questions To Ask Your Wedding Dress Cleaner
- What methods and solutions do you use for disinfecting and cleaning?
- Do you provide acid-free, pH neutral tissue and packing materials?
- What types of delicate fabrics and embellishments can you accommodate?
- Do you make minor repairs if needed?
- What wedding dress cleaning certification or training do your staff have?
- What types of guarantees do you provide if damage occurs?
Reputable cleaners should be able to thoroughly answer these questions and stand by their experience. Trust your dress only to the best rated specialists.
How Should You Pack & Transport Your Wedding Dress for Cleaning or Storage?
Transporting your wedding dress safely is key, whether for cleaning or relocation to your permanent storage spot. Follow these tips for keeping your gown protected on the move:
- Allow dress to fully air out after wearing before packing.
- Pack loose in a garment bag, no plastic bags or tight boxes.
- Pad the bodice, skirt layers, and train with acid-free tissue.
- Use a dress box or garment bag box for easy transport.
- Do not place anything heavy on top of the box.
- Drive carefully on bumpy roads or transport in the passenger seat.
- Inform cleaners or preservationists on any beading, lace, or fabric issues.
Proper transportation reduces the chance of snags, new stains, or crushing during the journey. Handle your treasured dress with care each time it leaves the comfort of your preservation storage.
How Much Does Wedding Dress Preservation Typically Cost?
The exact cost for professionally preserving your wedding gown can vary based on factors like dress size, detailing, extent of cleaning required, and your local provider’s rates. However, some general estimates based on industry averages are:
- Basic gown cleaning: $200-$300
- Heirloom gown cleaning: $300-$500+
- Standard preservation box kit: $100-$200
- Full preservation service: $300-$600+
Additional a la carte services like repairs or specialty storage bags/boxes also impact the total fees. Research options and read reviews rather than choosing based on cost alone. Preservation is truly an investment in protecting the monetary and sentimental value of your one-of-a-kind wedding dress for the long run.
How Should You Handle Displaying or Re-Wearing Your Preserved Wedding Dress?
Once you have carefully stored your wedding dress using the proper archival preservation methods, you will want to be extremely cautious any time the dress needs to come out of storage. Here are some tips for temporary handling:
- Open storage bag slowly and minimize light exposure.
- Wear gloves and avoid touching beads, lace, or other embellishments.
- Consider wearing a clean slip if re-wearing to prevent oils and perspiration transfer.
- Do not eat or drink anything while wearing to prevent stains.
- Photograph in indirect, low light then immediately return to bag.
- After display or wearing, return to cleaner for refreshing.
- Repack with fresh acid-free tissue paper before returning to storage.
By disturbing your preserved dress as little as possible, you ensure the storage measures can continue protecting it optimally for many more years to come.
Your wedding dress is a once-in-a-lifetime garment full of memories and meaning. While storing it improperly can lead to irreparable damage, taking the right preservation steps will protect your gown for decades. Use an archival quality garment bag, maintain proper temperature and humidity, and enlist professional cleaning and preservation services. Follow our tips in this guide for best practices when boxing, transporting, and eventually displaying your cherished wedding dress. With the proper care and handling, you can confidently preserve your stunning bridal gown to pass down for generations to come.