Wedding dress preservation and cleaning
Got married. Now What?Wedding dress preservation.
Once the big day has come and gone many new brides ask, “So what should I do with my wedding dress? How do I go about wedding dress cleaning and wedding dress preservation?” After all, your wedding dress marks one of the most important occasions of your life, and is now a cherished possession to keep in pristine condition.
Wedding dress preservation maintains look, feel and shape. But these days there are more options: shipping your dress off for preservation, purchasing a wedding dress preservation kit to do it yourself, or taking it to a local dry cleaner with wedding gown cleaning specialists who treat the wedding dress with care for safe packaging.
What is wedding dress preservation?
Wedding dress preservation is a process of cleaning and packaging used to make sure your gown, veil and sometimes footwear retains their quality. The best dry cleaners for wedding dress cleaning have on-staff preservationists who inspect each item to identify the safest method to clean, remove any stains and package the items for long-term storage and preservation.
“Cleaning your wedding gown is the single most important part of the preservation process and all the stains, including the hidden ones containing sugar that turn brown over time, must be removed," says Sally Lorensen Conant, executive director for the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists.
Wedding dress stains that go undetected will later discolor (yellow or brown) and ruin the dress. Even stains from white wine, red wine, wedding cake icing, perspiration, and anti-perspirants. While it is not necessary to take your gown for cleaning immediately following the wedding, it is important to remember that overall stain removal, including red wine stain removal is easier while still relatively fresh. Once the wedding dress and other items are clean, they get delicately packaged and wrapped in acid-free tissue paper before being placed in a museum-quality archival box.
Where do I find the best dry cleaner for wedding dress preservation?
So how do you choose the right wedding gown preservationist? First, you may want to select a dry cleaner prior to the wedding. That way, if you decide to have the wedding dress cleaned during the honeymoon, a family member or friend can take the gown on your behalf. A good way to help identify the right preservationist is to ask friends and family, bridal shops or your wedding consultant for their recommendations. Bridal shops and wedding planners are familiar with good local wedding dress preservationists.
Though some dry cleaners do clean wedding gowns, most are not experts. Take your dress in even before the wedding and ask the dry cleaner what process they would use for wedding dress cleaning and wedding dress preservation. Do not be afraid to ask questions such as, “How many wedding gowns do clean each year,” and “what is the best method for cleaning my wedding dress and how will you preserve the wedding dress?” Ask how they pre-treat any stains and soiled areas, and specifically what the dry cleaner does to make sure they remove any invisible sugar stains. Another good option is to search online to see if a dry cleaner has good reviews as wedding gown cleaning specialists.
What is the wedding dress cleaning process?
If you are not taking your dress for immediate cleaning following the wedding, make sure not to store it inside a closed plastic bag where moisture builds up and grows mildew or mold. Also, keep the wedding dress away from areas of heat or exposure to significant light. These environments seriously damage your dress.
When you do investigate wedding dress cleaning methods, you find that many wedding gown cleaning specialists will wet clean, instead of dry clean, most gowns which essentially consists of gently washing the gown by hand with gentle cleansers that remove all water soluble stains – such as champagne and sugar. Again, it is these unseen stains that oxidize and turn yellow over time. Stain removal for these types of stains generally cannot be removed through traditional dry cleaning methods. If a wedding dress is designed using a fabric that can only be dry cleaned, then it is critical to pre-treat any stains before placing the garment in a dry cleaning machine. Solvents such as perchloroethylene ("perc" for short) or petroleum-based cleansers are used for cleaning and are best at stain removal for oily food and other oil-based stains and soils.
What is the final packaging for wedding dress preservation?
It is critical that only the finest packaging materials are used for long-term storage of wedding dresses. Important factors are that the packaging and preservation material are clean and acid-free/pH-neutral. Right packaging materials and packaging methods allow the wedding gown to breathe and adjust with changing temperatures. You will find that many boxes include an acetate (not plastic) viewing window so the wedding dress can be seen without opening the box. When you store your packaged wedding dress away be sure to keep it from direct sunlight, as such exposure will alter the color of the most exposed fabric over time.
Some dry cleaners will also use boxing tape to seal the package to keep out insects and contaminants. This is fine, but also is not completely necessary as long as the wedding dress is stored in a safe, dry, and relatively cool environment. If you do decide to open the box, remember to be careful with clean, dry and lotion-free hands when touching or handling the wedding dress. You may even wish to wear clean cloth gloves. Try your best to keep all handling to a minimum.
What does wedding dress preservation cost?
The type of fabric, complexity and decoration or ornamentation, as well as the amount of staining and soiling, impacts the cost to preserve your gown. Generally speaking, it is not worth trying to save a few dollars if it means risking cleaning and preserving your dress improperly. Be sure to ask for pricing when searching out the best dry cleaner for wedding dress preservation, but only after the preservationist has seen your dress. Professional preservation will often cost between $150 to $500 depending on the gown. Costs do tend to vary across cities.