Wedding Dress Tips

What is the best way to store a wedding dress?

The dress you walk down the aisle in holds so many memories — not just of the wedding itself, but of the planning, the dreaming, the anticipation. You may never wear the dress again, but it just feels wrong to stick it on a hanger in the back of your closet. Your own child may want to wear it someday, or perhaps you wish to preserve it to help hold on to the energy of that special day.

Wedding dresses are also typically a substantial investment, so storing them correctly is key unless you want to end up with a yellowed, creased, or — perish the thought — mouldy mess on your hands. 

To add to the challenge, wedding dresses need to be cleaned and properly put away as soon as possible after the wedding.

That means before you can kick back and revel in your newlywed bliss, you should take the time to read this information and formulate a plan for dealing with your wedding duds. (Go ahead and crack open a bottle of champagne as you do it — we won’t tell.)

How to store your wedding dress before the wedding day is an increasingly common question in the time of coronavirus wedding postponements. Take a scenario where you’ve received your wedding dress (so exciting!), but you’re now dealing with a wedding postponement anywhere from three months to a year out from your original date. Here, we talk through exactly what you need to do to ensure your gown is in flawless condition for when you ultimately make your grand entrance down the aisle. 

Most little girls dream of walking down the aisle to marry their prince in a perfectly magical wedding dress. As you probably know, a lot of time and money went into finding your dream bridal gown, which is why keeping it in perfect shape before and after the wedding is so important. Here are some simple tips on how a bride can keep her wedding dress beautiful before and afterwards, the big day.

Single-handedly, the best way to store a wedding dress before the wedding day is to follow the instructions provided by the boutique or your local bridal salon. These pros will tell you exactly what to do in every scenario with your specific type of gown. 

There are several golden rules, however, to keep in mind at all times. The best way to store a gown is in a dark, dry spot. If possible, gowns should be stored in breathable cloth bags, such as the bags we give to them when they pick up the dress–and not in plastic bags.

The best way to store a wedding dress, if it’s in a closet, is to use the hanger straps to keep everything in tip-top shape. The last scenario you’d want is for your bodice to be haphazardly stretched because you didn’t utilize the support of hanger straps.

Finally, experts reiterate removing the plastic covering over the gown and replacing it with something more storage-friendly like cotton or breathable fabric storage bag. Be sure not to store it in plastic, especially through the warmer months. Any moisture that isn’t able to escape that plastic bag could cause an odour. Tucked away in a closet with no garment bag, at all, is better than storing it longterm in plastic.

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How To Store A Wedding Dress Before The Wedding

Now that you’ve purchased your wedding dress, your first task is to keep it in perfect condition until your wedding day. This begins in the bridal shop the moment you buy your dress. Begin by asking them their policy on keeping the dress in the store. Most places will offer to keep it until closer to your wedding day, and if that is an option, you should always take them up on it. They know how to store wedding dresses, and will be your best bet of keeping it clean and pristine until you walk down the aisle.

Store your dress in a place where it remains cool and dark—anywhere between room temperature and below is suggested as factors such as humidity and direct sunlight can cause bleaching or fabric decay. Your best bet in the back of a closet or in an area that isn’t exposed to light. 

We suggest storing your gown in a breathable, cloth garment bag that is long enough to allow the dress to hang in a tall closet—without wrinkling at the bottom. Chances are your gown has been steamed by your seamstress or tailor if you have already had alterations done to your gown. Keep it ready for the big day by storing it in a way that it won’t re-wrinkle or sit wrinkled for an extended period of time. Storing the dress in a garment bag will also ensure that it doesn’t get dirty or snag on anything else that’s in your closet.

Storing at home

If keeping your wedding dress at the bridal shop is not an option, your next most important step is keeping it safe from anything that could stain, wrinkle, stretch, or discolour it. The first and the most important thing you can do is keep it in the garment bag provided to you by the bridal shop. Do not remove the dress for the bag or replace it with a different bag. Wrapping it in a cheap plastic garment cover will trap any moisture and creates the perfect environment for mould and mildew to grow. It may also emit fumes that will yellow your gown over time. To avoid this, keep your dress in its high-quality garment bag, away from direct sunlight.

The next step is to lay your dress (in its bag) completely flat. This is more optimal than hanging it, as it prevents any stretching to the fabric or seams. It will also help avoid creasing or wrinkles. If you do not have space to lay the dress flat, you should only hang it by the loops, not the sleeves or straps. If you are uncertain, ask the bridal shop for suggestions on how to store your wedding dress.

You should never store your dress in your garage or attic. The constant changing of temperatures and inconsistent humidity can ruin the fabric and cause discolouration. Instead, make sure to store it in a dry, dark, and cool environment where humidity is at or under 50%.

Try not to handle your dress

The key to keeping your dress in pristine condition before your big day is to avoid trying on your dress unnecessarily or removing it from the fabric garment bag. You greatly increase your chances of soiling, staining or damaging your dress if you keep handling it. If you must try on your wedding dress before your big day, make sure to remove any jewellery (to avoid snags), deodorant and makeup first. It’s also recommended that you thoroughly wash your hands to prevent the natural oils from your hands to get onto the dress. Oils usually cannot be seen at first but can attract dirt, which can be seen later on.

Wait until your wedding day

Avoid trying on your dress or showing it off before your wedding. You should wait until the very last second to put it on. Constantly trying it on or showing it off predisposes it to the oil and bacteria on your hands. If you are trying it on, you may accidentally get makeup, water, or even your perfume on the dress. This can all lead to discolouration and a less-than-perfect dress on your wedding day. It’s easy to get tempted, but it’s best to keep it in the garment bag.

Check out our list of Wedding Dress Shops in Melbourne to help you select your ultimate gown.

How to Store a Beaded or Heavy Lace Wedding Dress Before the Wedding?

Depending on the weight of your gown, some salons will provide specifications for even heavier material, which could include ornate beading or structured lace. If there’s beading, my recommendation is not to hang it at all. Take it off the hanger, place a sheet down on your bed and put your gown down on the sheet. Fold it in thirds and store it somewhere flat.

Heavier garments are tricky when hung, especially when a gown has been perfectly suited to fit your physique. With beading, over time, the fabric will grow, and the proportions can be off. The same is for bridesmaid dresses and mother of the bride pieces as well.

To hang or not to hang

Most dresses can be hung (say it with us: by the hang straps!) for a few weeks. However, the form of storage ultimately depends on the length of time and fabric type. If your wedding is months away, find a place where it can lay flat and out of sunlight. A gown that is heavily beaded, cut on the bias, or a very open lace-think crochet, Battenburg, or guipure-should be stored laying down for any period of time to avoid stretching. Ask your seamstress if you’re not sure.

How To Store A Wedding Dress After The Wedding

Now that your wedding is over, you have a very short window of time before the stains in your dress set in, and it is beyond repair. Most brides wait a few weeks before they take their dress in to be cleaned and preserved, but that leaves it vulnerable to stains you may not even know are there. The best way to ensure your wedding dress stays in perfect quality is to take it off immediately after the reception and take it in to get cleaned the day after your wedding. If you are leaving for your honeymoon immediately, arrange for your mom or maid of honour to take it in for you.

Be aware of the invisible stains. Even if you don’t see stains on your dress, many clear stains like white wine will appear over time. Anything with sugars will begin to caramelize in heat. In just 6 months, those stains will begin to yellow, and as time goes on, they will begin to brown. Unfortunately, dry cleaning will not be able to reverse the damage of these stains. Other things like perspiration and perfumes can be invisible at first but reveal themselves over time.

Many brides opt not to get their wedding dresses professionally cleaned or preserved. Some try to clean their dresses themselves, which may permanently damage the dress if not done right. Most dresses have specific cleaning instructions on them, and professionals will be better equipped to clean them according to the specific needs of the fabric. If you don’t preserve your dress, you risk yellowing of fabric, oxidation, mould, mildew, and permanent fabric creasing. To avoid this, you’ll need to do your research before your wedding to find the right company to clean and preserve your wedding dress.

Check out our post on What can I do with my old wedding dress?

Protect your dress from plastics

If your wedding dress comes wrapped in plastic or a white plastic garment bag, and you plan on storing it for more than a few weeks, you’ll want to remove it from the plastic or plastic garment bag. Then wrap your dress in white or light-coloured cotton sheets or put it in a light-coloured cloth garment bag. Plastic usually doesn’t allow the fabric to ‘breathe’ and may even dull or yellow the dress, as chemicals start to break down and gases are discharged.

When and how to hang your dress

Don’t rush to hang up your wedding dress. You’ll want first to consider the weight of your dress. If your dress isn’t light and airy and is heavily embellished with beads and has lots of layers, you’ll want to store it flat protected with cotton sheets in a low traffic area or space. Make sure to keep your dress away from any dirt, pets, heaters, damp areas, or direct sunlight. Also, make sure your dress is placed in a room with moderate to cool temperatures that are not too hot or humid. If you do hang up your dress, be sure to use the small support straps (often referred to as ‘spaghetti’ straps) that are usually sewn into the inside of the gown, to help take the pressure off sleeves that can stretch. If your gown is strapless, be sure to use the small spaghetti straps vs. using the clamp type hanger that can damage or mark up the fabric.

Removing Wrinkles

A few days before your wedding carefully take out your dress. Use a silk or satin padded hanger to hang your wedding dress somewhere high, so any creases and wrinkles can drop out. If your dress still has a few wrinkles a couple of days before the wedding, you could hang your gown in the powder room with a hot shower running. Just make sure your gown is far enough away from the shower so that it doesn’t get wet. You may also want to have your dress professionally steamed just before your wedding. This is especially helpful if you have to take your dress on a plane if your wedding is in a different city. It is not recommended that you iron your dress in order to avoid any last-minute accidents that could ruin your precious wedding gown.

Packing is important

Thankfully, your seamstress should handle this part. Your gown should be freshly pressed, hung by the hang straps, packed on a bust form or tissue paper, and enclosed in both a plastic and fabric garment bag by your tailor. If one of these items is missing, do not hesitate to ask!

Hang straps are your friends

Those pesky hang straps might drive you crazy on your everyday clothes, but trust us, you’re going to want them on your wedding dress-at least leading up to the big day. Ensuring that the weight of the dress is being supported by hang straps rather than a delicate neckline or straps will keep your gown from stretching or becoming misshapen, adding that if brides notice they are missing, they should ask their tailors to sew them in.

Location, location, location

Find a spot in your home that is cool, dry, and dark such as a closet or a second bedroom that’s not accessible to children or animals. While we love tiny hands and pet paws, be sure to place your dress out of their reach to avoid stains and snags.

Wedding gown preservation after

When you get back from your honeymoon, don’t forget to get your wedding dress preserved by a reputable specialist. Preserving a gown is a special process that entails professional cleaning and preserving your dress after it has been worn at your wedding and reception. This process is done in many steps, including not only inspecting and cleaning your wedding dress of both non-visible and visible stains, hand treating and cleaning highly soiled areas such as the hem and neckline, but it also entails a preservation process that protects your dress through the years from yellowing and stains that might have otherwise surfaced over time. Be sure to check reviews by real brides when selecting a company to entrust your precious gown with. Having your gown professionally cleaned, preserved and protected in an acid-free preservation chest will ensure you’ve created a family keepsake that will be cherished for generations to come.

At home care

Once you take your wedding dress home, you should store it somewhere dark, cool, and dry. You will want to avoid any humid areas, or anywhere that has inconsistent temperatures. Many people choose to store their wedding dresses in climate-controlled storage units. These units have consistent humidity and temperature and are protected from pests and dust.

You should revisit your dress every 2-3 years to inspect and refold it. This will help prevent any permanent creasing or wrinkles and will allow you to catch any stains or damage that may have developed. You should always wash your hands before handling your dress to remove any oils or bacteria. Do not wear any lotions or perfumes. If you are nervous about stains, invest in a pair of white cotton gloves to wear while handling.

Have the dress professionally cleaned

Even if there’s no visible dirt or stains on the dress, have it cleaned. Your body oils and sweat are trapped in the fabric. Storing a dress that hasn’t been cleaned first is a recipe for smells, yellowing, and mould or mildew down the line. Be sure to choose a cleaner who offers wedding dress preservation specifically — a regular dry clean won’t do. Also, check the label on your gown in case there are certain solvents or products it can’t be cleaned with.

Whether you are planning to keep, sell or repurpose your wedding dress in future, knowing how to store your wedding dress until the moment you take it out again is an important, yet often-overlooked part of wedding planning. Remember, cleaning is just as important as the way you store your dress. Following the above tips and pre-planning is the best way to ensure your wedding dress stays as bright and beautiful as your memories. 

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