How to Keep Your Wedding Dress As Picturesque as Your Memories

Wedding season is in full swing.  In fact we’ve seen a couple folks from our home office tie the knot this month already.  Self storage is definitely a great way for newlyweds to more easily consolidate their two homes into one without worrying about completely getting rid of something they may want or need later.  Today, however, we’re going to focus more specifically on how best to store and preserve one of the more iconic symbols of a marriage, the wedding dress.

It’s a dress you’ll only wear once, but it’s also one you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life.  You’ll want it as a reminder of how happy you were the day you wore it, and you might even want to hand it down to a daughter or other family member for her wedding day.  To ensure your gown remains as beautiful as the day you wore it down the aisle, follow these recommendations.

The first thing you’ll want to do is have your dress professionally cleaned.  This is an absolute essential.  A wedding day can be a bit stressful.  Add in layers of clothing, lots of moving around, rooms full of people, bright lights and the fact many weddings take place during the summer and a bride won’t be able to help herself.  She’s going to sweat.  Unseen stains can darken over time, and might even attract pests.  Use a cleaning service with experience in handling wedding gowns.  A wedding dress is likely made up of several different materials, each with its own ideal cleaning/care instructions, so you’ll only want to trust your gown to a service with the knowledge and dedication to know everything about your gown before cleaning it.

The plastic bag you likely used to cart your dress around before and after wedding day is fine for very temporary storage of your gown, but you need to replace it as soon as you can.  Plastic can trap damaging moisture inside the bag, which in turn can cause your dress to stain, mold or mildew.  Additionally, chemicals from plastic can seep into your gown over time, exposing it further to staining and deterioration.

Once your dress has been cleaned and dried, the next key step is to purchase the proper packaging materials.  You want to use archival quality packaging materials only.  Place acid-free tissue paper between each of the folds of your dress.  This will help keep the material from rubbing up against itself and prevent any beads, pearls or sequins from potentially snagging, and tearing, the dress.

When folding up your dress, use loose folds only and do not crease it at all.  Creases in the fabric can break down over time.  Once your dress is folded, wrap the entire thing in unbleached muslin before placing it in your acid-free, archival quality, cardboard box.  Some boxes will feature a window in the lid through which to view your dress.  If you use that type of box, purchase one with a window made of acetate rather than plastic.

It’s important to note that boxing your dress is preferred to hanging it; even if you’re using archival quality materials for hanging.  Wedding dresses tend to have a bit of heft to them.  A hung dress can stretch under its own weight over time.  Additionally, a dress hung in a bag tends to acquire a musty, “stored” scent more easily than a dress which has been properly boxed.

Store your dress in an area with low moisture, moderate temperature and little direct light (under your bed or in a closet is ideal).  Like many stored items, light, heat and moisture can be the death of a stored wedding gown.  If you do place your gown in a storage unit, you will absolutely want to use one which is climate-controlled.

Acid-free cardboard boxes should be replaced every 10 years or so.  Beyond that, you’ll want to check on your dress once a year to look for any staining or areas in need of repair.  Take care to handle the dress as little as possible (wearing white, cloth gloves isn’t a bad idea for handling) before re-wrapping, folding and returning it to its box.

Properly preparing your wedding gown for storage can be time consuming, and the services and materials needed won’t come particularly cheaply, but really is one of those cases where you don’t want to skimp.  Follow these guidelines and your gown should remain as fresh and beautiful as the day it joined you on your trip down the aisle.