We know with certainty that the wedding dress is, for many, the most important piece of the wedding puzzle and, as a result, the part where most care and consideration is channelled. However, on many occasions, brides struggle to find the best way to maintain their dresses over time. Because if there’s anything we’re completely sure on, it’s that it doesn’t matter if the dress is never worn again – every bride wants to keep it safe, a tangible reminder of one of the most important days of her life.
The importance of the wedding dress goes beyond its beauty and design – it is a symbol of love, of dedication, of a union that will last a lifetime. Assuredly, once a couple has become engaged, the dress is one of the first things that the bride thinks about. And though it is only worn the once, the love for this one dress can last as long as the marriage!
However, though with an immeasurable value, the pace of life can mean that a wedding dress is forgotten, or not taken care out. Big events – moving house, starting a family, emigrating – can all mean that taking care of your wedding dress moves down on the list of priorities, until it is too late. So if you’re dedicated to keeping your dress in pristine condition, follow our five simple steps!
Clean it at home
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Your wedding dress goes through a lot on your wedding day, and so it is imperative that the moment you get in, it is put away carefully, to be attended to as soon as possible. Remember that the dress has often suffered imperfections or small levels of damage – being trodden on, a spilt drink, a small tear from too much dancing – which are imperceptible until the light of day.
Once you’re ready to come back to reality, the first step is to try and wash it at home – but if you’re aware that there is a stain or mark, this has to be done within 12-24 hours, which will ensure that any contaminants do not fuse with the fibres. Make sure you’re using the washing machine on a delicate cycle, and that you’re using a non-scented powder or detergent. To dry it, we recommend simply leaving your dress in the open air and the sun. Afterwards, you can iron it, but it’s better to use a steamer so you’re not in danger of burning any holes, or ironing any creases into your dress!
Take it to the dry cleaners
There are always brides who prefer to take the safer path to ensure that nothing can possibly go wrong with their wedding dress. If this sounds familiar, we recommend that taking your dress to be individually cleaned by a professional is the better option. If you take your dress to the dry cleaner, make sure it is covered appropriately during transit, and always do your best to find a company that specialises in wedding dress cleaning. We cannot guarantee that your dress will be 100% safe in any place, even within your home, but it is less likely that anything will go wrong during the cleaning process if you give your dress to a professional.
When your dress has been returned to you, we would recommend hanging it up as opposed to folding it away – this prevents the build-up of yellow age-stains, and protects the integrity of vital features such as stitched on pearls.
Cover with sensible materials
It is impossible to doubt the effort and care that goes into the creation of garment bags for wedding dresses, which are often works of art in and of themselves, with many companies working to create them. However, the delicate fibres and materials used to create these bags tend to deteriorate more quickly than, for example, synthetic materials.
Instead, we would recommend that you use tissue paper, or a similarly light and non-toxic material, and keep your dress in a dry place where there is no danger of humidity or sunlight. If you want a more robust option, stick to synthetic materials, and try and pick a light colour that repels heat.
When we talk of looking after garments as special as wedding dresses, we would always recommend looking at the classic ways of maintaining them, and avoiding experimental options that don’t always give the desired result.
One timeless option is to use a large box (think the kind that Carrie used to store her Westwood gown in Sex and the City) which is wide and deep enough for your dress to be gently placed within it, and of a material that will protect it from humidity, bad smells, and too much crumpling. The success of this venture is also dependent on where the box itself is placed – be careful to leave it somewhere dry and temperate, like the back of your wardrobe, or in special storage.
Another option is to flat-pack your dress, by purchasing a large plastic garment bag and then removing the air from the bag, compressing what is within it. This reduces the size that the dress takes up – particularly useful if you selected a ball-gown! – whilst maintaining its form, and allowing it to be stored anywhere.
Put this advice into practice
Often the advice you hear from your friends, your mother, your favourite television programme regarding weddings is useful, but with regard to storing your dress, it’s better to listen to the experts. Follow the advice in this article, and it’s far more likely that this fabulous dress is protected. One additional comment we would make is to recommend that you remove your wedding dress from its storage place (and however you have chosen to wrap it) at least once a year. This gives you ample opportunity to check it for any signs of damage, and have them fixed before it becomes permanent.