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How to Store Your Wedding Dress Properly

Wedding dressed being stored in a box

Proper wedding dress storage will keep your dream gown in immaculate condition for years to come. Use the right tools and techniques and your gown can be stored beautifully for years.

Preserve Your Wedding Gown Before You Store

It's not enough to have your wedding dress cleaned if you want to keep it in peak condition. It will also need to be preserved to prevent yellowing of the fabric, mold, mildew, permanent stains and the creases that may be too set in to remove. Many dry cleaners offer this service, and some places even specialize in wedding dress preservation. Preservation specialists know how to clean the dress and preserve the fabric so it can stay in storage for decades if need be. If a dress has stains on it and hasn't been properly cleaned and preserved, these stains can set into the fabric over time and will be much harder to remove years later. Without proper preservation, you may have to pay to have the dress restored as cleaning won't be enough.

How Wedding Dresses Are Preserved

Preserving the wedding dress involves special cleaning, either with wet cleaning by hand or using a dry cleaning process. A trained preservationist will also examine your dress for hidden stains and develop a plan for preservation that takes into account the type of fabric of the dress. Proper storage also includes packing the dress carefully to keep the gown from incurring any damage from the elements or insects. The dress is wrapped in acid-free paper and folded gently into a box that is either pH neutral or acid free. Some preservationists will wrap the dress in pre-washed and unbleached muslin fabric instead of acid-free paper. The box is then sealed airtight to prevent discoloration to the dress over time. If you request a box with a viewing panel, the clear material should be made of acetate or Coroplast to protect the dress from exposure to light.

Is There DIY Wedding Dress Preservation?

Some women choose to preserve their own gowns because the cost of hiring a professional can range from $150 to $500 depending on the dress. Doing it yourself is made easier by the availability of preservation kits and supplies online. It's important to use the proper supplies, such as white cotton gloves to handle the dress and keep it stain free. Using supplies like acid-free paper and boxes are necessary and you will have to have a cool, dry area to store the box. If you do go the DIY route, it's a good idea to take your dress out every few years to check on it and air it out. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly and wear white gloves to handle and repackage the dress.

Don't Delay Cleaning and Storing Your Wedding Dress

Because stains can set in to dress the longer they are left uncleaned, it's best to have your dress cleaned and preserved as soon as possible. Waiting days or weeks can make it much more difficult for a dress to become stain-free. If you can, have a plan to have a relative or friend take your dress in for cleaning and preservation right after the wedding if you will be out of town for a honeymoon. It's best to research before the wedding where you will be taking the dress, or if you are going the DIY route order your supplies so you are ready to go with a plan once the big day is over.

Storage Supplies

If you have chosen to tackle the job yourself, you'll need storage supplies. From preservation kits to garment bags, there is an option that will fit your budget and your preferences.

Preservation Kits

One option is to pass this important job on to professionals if possible. Send your gown to Wedding Gown Preservation and receive your garment back in perfect storage. Other stores like Wedding Gown Preservation Company allow you to select the grade of preservation you'd like. Both these companies send you packaging and labels. You send the gown to the company and they process it, repackage it and send it back to you. You'll have your favorite dress forever.

Storage Boxes

If a less permanent storage option appeals to you, then buy special storage boxes. Buy an acid free storage box from Foster-Stephens. You can have the box personalized with your name or a special message. They send packing instructions, wraps and a box with a large viewing window. Heritage Garment Preservation has boxes with no windows, but the containers do offer protection from dust and fingerprints. With these kinds of boxes, you can open your gown at any time to examine it.

Garment Bags

Garment bags are the easiest storage option and the least expensive. You can purchase a wedding dress garment bag at David's Bridal. Each bag has a wide gusset and long length to accommodate even the fullest dress. Other websites like DH Gate have breathable bags in a variety of sizes.

Handy Wedding Dress Storage Tips

If your wedding dress preservation specialist hasn't already packed your dress for you, keep these storage tips in mind:

Clean Your Gown Before Storage

Make sure your dress is professionally cleaned. Just because your dress looked clean to you when you took it off doesn't mean this is the case. Further examination may unearth dirt and stains. These stains can darken and become permanent if not dealt with quickly. Your dry cleaner or wedding dress preservation specialist will know exactly what to look for and which chemicals and solvents work best for particular fabric.

Storage Materials and Location

Make sure you select the right storage materials and spot to preserve your dress.

Bride touching wedding dress
  • Don't use a wire hanger to hang your dress. Not only can it rust, but it can cause the fabric to tear. If you must hang your dress, hang it by the loops. Keep in mind that if a heavy dress hangs for too long, the fabric can tear under the weight of it all.
  • Never store your wedding dress in plastic. When plastic breaks down, it emits chemicals that can react with your dress and cause permanent damage.
  • Before packaging your wedding dress, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper for extra protection. Don't use colored tissue paper as it can eventually bleed onto the fabric.
  • If you'll be storing your dress in a wooden box, especially a cedar box, make sure there are layers of fabric or acid-free tissue paper between the wood and the dress. The acid in the wood will permanently stain the dress.
  • There's no such thing as completely acid-free cardboard. If you're packing your wedding dress in a cardboard box, even if it's touted as being acid free, you'll have to change the box every five years or so.
  • Store your dress is a cool, dry place. Basements aren't ideal for wedding dress storage because they're damp and can encourage mold. Storing the dress where it's exposed to heat or sunlight will cause it to turn yellow. Your best bet is to store the dress in a closet.

Air the Stored Dress Out Occasionally

Every now and then you should remove your wedding dress from storage and hang it in the fresh air. This will allow the fabric to breathe, making it less susceptible to mildew. Make sure that you wash your hands first and do not wear anything on your skin such as lotions, makeup, hair dyes that leak or nail polish. To reseal the dress, you will either need to have a preservationist place it back in the box with new paper and vacuum seal it, or use DIY supplies.

Save the Dress

Proper preservation and storage will allow you to wear the wedding gown again at a special anniversary event, pass it on to a daughter, or save it as an heirloom or special memory of the wedding. Saving your dress will protect your investment and save sweet memories. When the big day is over and the honeymoon is behind you, don't forget these wedding dress tips for storing your dress.

How to Store Your Wedding Dress Properly