Wedding Gown Cleaning/Preservation experiences?

Anyone have their wedding preserved? Did you think it was worth it? (how much did you pay?)

I would like to have my wife’s gown cleaned and preserved. It’s gotten kind of dingy over the years of hanging in the closet. We had it in a plastic bag but after the first year I noticed that it smelled funny and a stain was on the bodice. This staing was not there when we put it in so it’s a bit of a mystery. So it’s been hanging just in the open for about six years. Should I just take it to the dry cleaners? Her skirt part is layers and layers of the stuff that makes the skirt really poofy.

How should I get it cleaned and what are your opinions on the preservation services?

It cost me more to clean the thing than it did to buy the thing.
I think the grand total was $285 for the dry-cleaning, and I didn’t pay up the extra $75 for them to put it in a cardboard box for me.

Had it been a store-bought dress I never would have done it - but my mommy worked long and hard on the dress, so I wanted to have it all nice and clean.

Well, one of the reasons they tell you to get it cleaned right after the wedding is that sweat and champagne stains are easier to get out when fresh. Also, garments that you want to keep long-term shouldn’t be hung up, shouldn’t touch non-archival plastics, shouldn’t be folded, should be protected from light and moisture and vermin, etc.

As for appropriate cleaning and preservation now, the best route is with a professional garment preservator who is experienced in dealing with wedding dresses. Obviously, this can be expensive. It’s your call. Try and get a reccomendation from other people who are happy with the way their gowns came out - you don’t want to take your gown into an inept preservator and have it come back missing sequins and beads, for example.

If you choose not to have it specifically taken care of by an expert, here’s what I’d do: look at the label. There’s tons and tons of kinds of wedding dresses. Some can be hand-washed or dry-cleaned, while others can’t be dry-cleaned because of the decoration on them. Hopefully the label will tell you this, but you may have to ask a reliable dry-cleaner’s advice. At the very least, get that spot out. Make sure you get any sweat stains out, too. Be sure to check the train for stains carefully, if there is a train. You want the body oils off the thing, but you may want to air the dress out after cleaning if it has a strong smell or anything.

Check it and make sure there are no metal pins or staples (heh, instant alteration) or anything in the dress. This is also a good time to check for loose stitching, loose zippers, that sort of thing. Gently stuff the dress a bit to get it to keep its shape with acid-free tissue paper, and put it in a full length acid free cardboard box. Store it in a cool, dry place that hasn’t got bugs and rats and things in it.

Do not store textiles that you want to preserve in a cedar chest without at least an acid free barrier between the wood and the fabric. Do not store it in plastic, especially not plastic of unknown composition. Do not just pack it away and forget about it - check on it every year or so to make sure it isn’t getting mildewed or discolored or anything. Do not store it in your attic or basement where there are large variations in temperature and humidity.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Honestly, I’d have a professional clean it and box it, but make sure you get somebody good. If it’s worth keeping, isn’t it worth keeping in good shape? This is all important particularly if you entertain notions of keeping it as a heirloom for use in future weddings - I’ve got my grandmother’s wedding dress, complete with her authentic sweat stains. :slight_smile:


“Read the label” I actually hadn’t thought of that! :smack:
It says dry clean with synthetic solvents and that heat will damage the beading. Right now there is now way I can spends hundreds of dollars and the circumstances that have lead me to want to clean and preserve this dress are well strange to say the least. I’ll talk to my dry cleaner and see what he says. The real problem is that the skirt is huge! Huge I tell you. I’m not sure I can store it in such a way as you describe.
But thanks for the tips.

If you have to hang it, even after I done tole you not to :wink: , you can get a hanger padded with unbleached cotton padding. Try to avoid doing anything that stresses the thing, in other words. You don’t want any sharp line stress points. Definately no wire hangers or anything.

That plastic can be a real killer, though. If you get it dry cleaned please be sure not to leave it in the plastic.

There’s a cool fun neato test you can do at home to test for inert plastic, BTW. (Although you don’t want to put a dress in any plastic, because it needs to breathe and if there’s any moisture that can lead to mold, etc.) Take a flame source, preferably an oil lamp but a candle may do in a pinch (you want it good and hot) and take some copper wiring and strip the insulation so you get just one strand of the copper. Burn any coating there might be off it. Now, get the copper wiring good and hot, and melt a bit of the plastic you want to test with it. That gets some of the plastic on the wire. Put the wire back in the flame. If it’s PVC (meaning bad plastic - do not use in photo albums, comic book sleeves, etc) the flame will turn bright screaming green!

When I first learned that my friends and I spent hours testing all the plastic we could find, just because it’s so cool. Green!

It was only $125.00 to clean and preserve my gown. Check the paper (including any little local ones) for coupons, as dry cleaners often offer special deals on bridal gowns. DON’T allow them to box it and seal it before you have a chance to inspect it. They agreed to call me to come inspect my dress before they sealed it up, but when I got there it was already in the box. I said, “uh-uh. Let’s have a look.” Good think I did – they actually boxed it up for indefinite storage completely filthy. The hem still had dirt and grass stains and the straps still had makeup stains. I refused to accept it in that condition and they cleaned it again (no extra charge, since they didn’t do it right the first time) and lo and behold, all the dirt/stains came out.