Emergencies happen on your wedding day but luckily, armed with some basic knowledge, you can handle anything that comes your way! We handle a lot of wedding gowns and have seen it all! Here are our 7 quick lessons in wedding gown care, before, during and after the wedding.
Lesson 1: Silk or not?
Every bride should know the answer to that question because the fabric of your gown means a lot. Silk is a hollow fiber so when you spill something on silk, or other natural fibers such as cotton and linen, the spill bonds with the fibers and acts like a dye. Even water that is absorbed by natural fibers will leave marks. Silk also crushes more easily for the same reason which makes pressing difficult. On the other hand, spills can roll right off of artificial fibers like polyester, so a damp cloth is sometimes all you need to remove a stain from those. Plus most wrinkles shake out easily. Silk can be the more elegant choice but if you’re prone to stains or have a lot of kids involved in your wedding, you may want to look into artificial fibers.
Lesson 2: Garment Bags.
Most garment bags are not large enough to protect your gown without flattening the skirt. When you take your gown home from the bridal shop, remove at least the skirt portion from the bag so that it can open fully. This will help to keep the gown from wrinkling. If you remove the gown completely, be sure to hang it somewhere it will be safe from children and pets. You can also wrap your wedding gown in a clean sheet or a freshly washed muslin cloth to protect it from light and dust. If the skirt of your gown is very full, two fitted sheets pinned together are even easier to manage.
Lesson 3: Traveling to your Wedding.
There are so many things to consider when traveling with your gown. If you are traveling by car, it may be best to leave it in the garment bag provided by the bridal shop until you reach your destination and can touch it up. If you are traveling by air, the airline will almost certainly insist you stuff the garment bag into the overhead space. The other option is to put it in a box or find a company who will box it for you before traveling. If you carry your gown in a suitcase, you may have to check it and risk losing it when you change planes.
Lesson 4: Pressing your own Gown.
If you decide to lightly press your gown, make sure the iron is set to the temperature that is right for the fabric. Most steamers spit drops of water so if you use a steamer (hand steamers are great for destination brides) be sure to cover the head of the steamer with a towel or washcloth to absorb the water and prevent the drops of water from spraying on your gown. If you're not comfortable doing that, find a reputable cleaner in the area to press the gown for you. Make sure to call the cleaner ahead of time and ask questions!
Lesson 5: Emergency kit.
Most emergencies on the day of the wedding can be managed with a needle, thread, and safety pins. If nothing else, put some safety pins in the lining at the bottom of your gown so they will be handy if your bustle breaks. It’s also a good idea to bring baby powder and a white cotton cloth for stains.
Lesson 6: Learn the Basics about Stains.
There are three kinds of stains. Wetside stains, such as coffee, tea, and wine, will dissolve in water. Dryside stains, such as lipstick and grease, require a “dry” solution to dissolve the oily content. The third kind of stain is “complex” because it is composed of both wetside and dryside elements—think gravy or salad dressing. But remember lesson 1, silk or not? Almost anything you use to try and remove stains from silk will leave a ring. If you try a Tide stain stick, be sure to test its effect on an inside seam before using it on your gown. For silk gowns, it may be best, especially with greasy stains to mask the stain with chalk, baby powder or cornstarch, which absorbs grease and does not damage the finish. If your gown is not silk, you can use a wet washcloth on coffee, tea, or wine spills. For lipstick and grease, only a dry solvent will work.
Lesson 7: Clean your Dress Quickly.
After the wedding, the longer you leave your gown in the closet, the less likely all of the stains can be removed when you do take it to be cleaned. Don’t wait for your husband or your mother to complain the gown is taking up too much room. Look for a professional cleaner with experience cleaning gowns and ask a lot of questions about where and how your gown will be cleaned. Ask if you can see the gown after cleaning and about the past cleaning of other gowns and the cleaner's success with those. And be sure to inquire, today or twenty-years from today, who will honor the guarantee that your gown will not yellow!
Remember to enjoy every minute of your wedding—even if there are spills. The day goes by SO quickly and your family and friends are there to celebrate your happiness—not to look for wrinkles and stains!
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