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How to Preserve Your Wedding Gown

There’s no denying it – your wedding dress is probably the most significant piece of clothing you will ever purchase and wear. A lot of thought goes into this decision: Where to shop, what style to get, how to alter it, and how much to pay. But not as much consideration goes into what to do with the dress when the wedding is over…

If you plan to have your wedding dress as a keepsake, or perhaps, one day for your own daughter to wear it down the aisle, our friends at Regency Cleaners/White Star Cleaners of Durham, NC, offered some fantastic tips about how to preserve your wedding gown, and it starts with what type of dress you choose.

Raleigh NC brides in wedding gownsPhotos: J&J Photography

Choosing a Wedding Dress
Most of today’s bridal gowns are made from satin, taffeta, chiffon, organza, brocade and lace and are accented with delicate trims, such as beads, seed pearls, sequins, embroidery, lace and appliques.

When shopping for your dress, Rita Foley, owner of Regency Cleaners/White Star Cleaners, recommends asking the salesperson how the dress should be cleaned and if the trim should be cleaned the same way. “Trim that is glued on rather than sewn on sometimes does not stand up to the dry cleaning process,” she explains. “Other trims, such as beads and pearls, dissolve when cleaned with certain solvents.” You want to make sure that your entire dress is cleanable so that you can preserve your investment for many years.”

If you are wearing an heirloom gown, allow plenty of time for professional cleaning or alterations. “Many fabrics naturally yellow with age, so check the gown carefully for any discoloration. If you find any color changes, take your gown to a reputable cleaner who understands restoration of delicate and antique materials. Adding lace appliques or trim can often soften or hide discoloration,” Rita shares.

After the Wedding
It is always a wise idea to have your dress cleaned before storage. “The dress may have invisible stains from food, beverages, and body oil, and if these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent,” says Rita. Be sure to point out any stains or spills to your cleaner beforehand.

The Cost
At Regency Cleaners, Durham, the cost to have a bridal gown cleaned and returned on a hanger is $225 and up. The size and fabric of the dress may incur additional charges. The cost to have a bridal gown cleaned and preserved in a museum quality, acid-free preservation chest is $275 and up. Unfortunately, no process or storage method can guarantee against yellowing or possible deterioration of fabrics. There are, however, several steps you can take to protect your garment.

Beaded wedding dressPhoto: Anna Kirby Photography

Protect Your Dress
Regency Cleaners offers five easy tips for keeping your gown in top shape for years to come!

1. Have your bridal gown cleaned and preserved in a preservation chest by a reputable cleaner.

2. Store your gown in a cool, dry place. Do not store it in a basement or attic. Basement dampness can cause mildew; attic heat could promote yellowing of the fabric.

3. If you are storing a long gown on a hanger, sew straps to the waistline of the dress to relieve pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the skirt. Wrap the dress in a protective white sheet or muslin covering.

4. Fabric covered buttons, pins and foam padding should be removed and stored separately to avoid damage to the fabric.

5. Inspect your gown from time to time during storage. Stains not initially apparent could appear later and should be tended to immediately.

Chapel Hill bride at The Carolina InnPhoto: Rachel Red Photography

If you plan to part with your wedding gown, you still need to keep your dress in good shape. We spoke with the owner of Gorgeous Gowns in Cary, NC to understand what they look for when consigning wedding gowns.

First, they ask that all gowns be no more than 3-4 years old so that they are still current in style, and thus, have a better chance of selling in the store.

Gowns also need to be cleaned and have no tears, pulls or stains (another reason why taking the proper steps to preserve and clean your gown is still important regardless of whether you are keeping it or plan to sell or give it away).

Gorgeous Gowns asks that brides send pictures of the gown along with the size and original cost in e-mail first. If the shop is interested in taking the gown for consignment, they set up an appointment.

The initial consignment period at Gorgeous Gowns is four months. Once the gown sells, the consignor receives 40 percent of the sale price. Most used gowns are priced around half of their original cost, but could be more depending on the age and popularity of style.

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