So the hours of wedding planning paid off and everything went beautifully! But now that it’s all over, what should you do with your gorgeous gown? Your wedding gown is the most important dress you’ll ever wear—chosen because it, and every detail on it, is perfect for you. Brides typically spend a big chunk of their wedding budget purchasing their gown so it only makes sense to care for it after the big day is over. Here are some ideas on what to do with your dress, whether you’re planning on getting rid of it or keeping it!
Donating or selling your gown
This is an option for brides who aren’t especially attached to their gown. It’s the cheapest and easiest way for you to “get rid” of a gown that may be taking up space in your closet. There are a lot of local charities, consignment sales, and online sites where you can donate or sell your gown to someone who may not have the wedding budget you had. Just remember, if that bride needs to have the dress cleaned (and they probably will) that can be expensive. Some extremely generous brides will have their gown cleaned before donating it or to try to increase their asking price if they’re selling the gown.
Keeping your gown
If you’re planning to keep your gown, it’s important to have it cleaned. Virtually every dress will have hemline staining and perspiration stains inside the bodice—but there’s likely to be other stains too. Aunt Sally may have spilled alcohol on you while dancing or your wonderful new hubby may have gotten a little overexcited when you did the cake cutting. Regardless, the sooner you have your dress cleaned, the better. Stains on wedding gowns can permanently set over time. Those stains are more likely to be removed if they are taken care of ASAP! There can also be “invisible” stains on gowns (body oil, clear liquids, perfume) that will oxidize over time and cause brown spots to appear.
Once your gown is clean, there are a few long-term storage options to choose from:
Hanging your gown in a closet. If you go this route, it’s important to store the gown in a muslin bag so the fabric can “breathe.” Never, ever, ever store your gown in anything plastic—including a plastic garment bag or a storage bin. Many of the bags that bridal shops provide are higher quality plastics so be wary of those as well. Over time, plastic will emit harmful gases that will yellow your dress. One drawback of hanging a gown is that it can become stretched out over time, especially if it has a long train or is especially heavy. If the dress has straps specifically for hanging, use those but there is still a potential for distortions in the gown material. Also make sure your dress is un-bustled. Keeping a gown bustled for many years can cause permanent creases in your train.
Storing in a preservation box. It’s important to choose a box and tissue paper that are acid-free to prevent yellowing of the gown. If the preservation box has a window, verify that it’s a special plastic that does not emit gases. When choosing where to clean and preserve your gown, it’s vital to look for a specialist who has a lot of experience with wedding gowns. Wedding gowns can be tricky to clean with their various fabric compositions and ornate beading. Stay away from cleaners who do not offer an opportunity to view the gown after cleaning—you should always inspect the dress! Also, be wary of cleaners that void their guarantee if you open the preservation chest.
Whatever option you choose for your gown, it’s vital that it is stored in a dry, temperature-controlled area of your home (basements and attics are no-no’s). Guest bedroom closets are an ideal place. Make sure you inspect the gown every few years or so. Who knows, your daughter or granddaughter may want to wear it someday and you’ll want to make sure it looks its best!
Monika Manter is a certified wedding gown specialist at Balfurd Cleaners, offering expert cleaning, restoration, and preservation of wedding gowns and other fine textiles. Balfurd is a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, an organization recommended by over 70 bridal designers and offering a lifetime guarantee honored by any of its 500 international members. All gowns are hand-cleaned and preserved using standard museum-quality practices and preserved in archival-quality wedding gown chests.
1223 North Atherton Street
State College, PA 16803