Wedding Dress Preservation, Explained (& No, It's Not Just Dry Cleaning)

A wedding dress is not another dress that you take off and forget about. Whether it's your emotional attachment to the dress or the grand price you paid to buy it, you can't just have it manhandled and tossed away in the laundry. Trying to resell it, saving it for your own daughter, simply wanting it as a keepsake, or whatever your intention for your wedding dress, preserving it will do no harm. In fact, it will do your dress all the good in the world. Not only will you get a clean dress back, but you'll also get back a dress that'll stay the same no matter the weather. So, over the years, you — but not your dress — will grow old.


Wedding dress preservation involves a series of special cleaning techniques that can detect and wipe out all stains, followed by specific packaging techniques. From why you should do it to who you should get it done by to how it all goes down and how to do it on your own, we are here to explain the ins and outs of wedding dress preservation.

Why do it

Your wedding day can be quite a day. And the more hectic the day, the more likely you'll stain your attire. So, from wine stains to cake stains to makeup stains, your dress most probably has them all. And these stains won't just stay stains; as time passes, they will start to brown and discolor your dress. Preventing your white dress from turning into a patchy brown dress preservation is the answer. Plus, we are sure you don't want to see the wedding dress you paid a lot of money for turn into something you don't even recognize.


So much more than just dresses, wedding dresses have the potential to become heirlooms, customized lingerie, or be stitched into a completely different form of clothing. So, to make your dress look like it was truly worn only once or on zero occasions, make sure to have it preserved.

Knowing who to go to

Dress preservation differs from dry cleaning, so when picking a place, keep in mind to look further than your regular dry cleaning place. While some dry cleaners offer dress preservation services, others don't. And if you are going to the dry cleaners for a dress preservation service, make sure to ask them which solvent they use, if it is compatible with your dress, and if they offer the correct storage mechanism that fits the fabric and make of your dress. Also, check that the service about to be done is not the generic dry cleaning procedure. Dress preservation is customized depending on the intricacies of your dress, so have a specialist assess your dress.


If you are going with a service provider that specializes in dress preservation, you can do a couple of things to guarantee optimal service. This mainly includes asking questions. Ask how they will get rid of the stains, how they'll keep the workings and delicate parts of your dress intact while cleaning, and finally, look through the terms of the service. Check to see if they'll refund your money in case there's damage done to your dress or in case stains begin to show in the future. Do your research and make sure you're trusting your dress with the best care out there.

When to go

Knowing when to take your dress to get it preserved is just as important as knowing who to trust it to. And when it comes to dress preservation, time is of the essence. Stains will start to really settle in as time goes by, so starting the preservation process early on can avoid a lot of damage.


The best way to go about it is to do your research before the wedding. Secure arrangements with a place that is up to par, and before you leave for your honeymoon, drop your dress off. If you don't want to fill up your honeymoon bliss with chores, appoint someone from the bridal party to the task. Getting it preserved after you've returned from your honeymoon is definitely an option, but it's better to get it in the works as soon as possible. Before you take your dress to get it preserved, be certain not to wrap it in any plastic, as this will trap moisture which will lead to molding. Furthermore, avoid using wood or wire hangers that'll disrupt the weave of the fabric; instead, go with a plastic or padded hanger.


Keeping it safe and away

Once your gown goes through the cleaning process, it will most likely come to you in a box. This box is an airtight box filled with nitrogen instead of oxygen to prevent oxidation and aging. Refrain from breaking this seal, no matter how tempted you are. Only break it when absolutely necessary. If you break the seal, you will have to take it to a professional all over again.


Furthermore, this box should be kept in a cold, dark place. Direct sunlight and heat will cause your gown's fabric to fade, and it'll be yellow before you know it. Avoid putting your dress in a zip-lock bag; regular plastic is prone to retaining moisture, which will yet again cause fading. However, the plastic used in the preservation process is acid-free and will keep away moisture. It's important to store your wedding dress in the recommended way; and do not use your own tissue paper, plastic wrapping, or any other means of storage.

Doing it on your own

If you want to bypass the dry cleaner and venture out and tackle wedding dress preservation on your own, we are here to help. Follow these simple guidelines and your gown will be in good hands: yours! To start, always ensure that you're wearing white cotton gloves when handling your dress. Then, do a spot test before going crazy with your cleaning chemicals. Avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach, read your dress's label, and try to find a solvent that suits your dress's fabric. Use brushes that have soft bristles, and stick to gentle cleaning at all times.


To store it away, use acid-free tissue paper or acid-free plastic wrapping. Remember to pad the sleeves and bust of your dress. And place layers of tissue paper in between the folds of the dress. Keep the dress in an air-tight box and store it away in a cool, dry place. Before you dive headfirst into preserving your dress by dry cleaning at home, do your research and watch a lot of tutorials, as it is not an easy task.

What's the damage?

We are sure your wallet is tired after throwing a wedding. So, if you're wondering how much financial damage a wedding dress preservation adds to the mix, we are here to break it down. It can range from anywhere between $250 to $400. And that is a lot of money. So, figure it in your wedding budget to avert last-minute surprises.


The cost of the procedure tends to change with the place and person. If it's going to be done by a well-known professional at a very high-end place, you're sure to break the bank. But if you were to DIY with a preservation kit, you'll save some serious bucks. However, read reviews and do your own assessments before making a final decision. After all, you don't want your wedding dress to be damaged trying to save a few bucks.

The dress you wear on your special day deserves to be immortalized, and that's exactly what wedding dress preservation is all about.