Incorrectly stored white fabric is susceptible to yellowing, brown oxidation spots, creasing, and mildew growth. Wedding dress preservation helps to avoid it.
But what is wedding dress preservation exactly? Is it worth the money, and does your gown need it?
In short, wedding gown preservation is a significant expense that’s only necessary for a small percentage of brides.
However, those who opt for preservation never regret the decision. Preservation maintains your gown’s initial beauty for decades.
You didn’t pay so much for your gown to toss it in a closet after the wedding. Wedding dress preservation may not be the right choice for everyone, but it’s certainly worth consideration.
Table of Contents [show]
Wedding Dress Preservation vs Dry Cleaning
Wedding dress preservation shouldn’t be confused with dry cleaning. Simply put, dry cleaning is a one-step process necessary for most wedding gowns to remove sweat and other spots from the fabric.
Wedding dress preservation is a multi-stage process that involves dry-cleaning, optional fabric treatment, and packing in an air-tight preservation box.
Both processes involve wet or dry cleaning, stain cleaning, and pressing to get rid of wrinkles and folds.
However, wedding dress preservation additionally includes using fabric protectants to achieve museum-quality results, packing, and warranty.
Wedding Dress Preservation Cost
Considering that wedding dress preservation is a more complex process than dry cleaning, its higher price doesn’t come as a surprise. The average price of wedding dress preservation in the U.S. is about $500.
You may find options for as little as $150, but saving on your wedding dress treatment isn’t worth it.
Remember that wedding gowns are delicate, so dry cleaners handling them must have sufficient experience and suitable equipment.
On the other hand, companies charging over $700 (sometimes, up to $1,500) don’t necessarily provide the best service. Usually, this means that the company outsources the work to someone else and charges an overhead.
Of course, numerous factors can affect the cost of wedding dress preservation. The most critical one is your dress fabric and design.
Some companies charge a fixed rate for all gowns, but most will inspect your gown thoroughly before issuing a quote. The more fabric and the more delicate it is, the higher the price.
For instance, silk can’t be cleaned with the most popular cleaning agent, PERC, and requires expensive treatment that skyrockets the price. The same applies to gowns with embellishments such as beading and sequins.
Another factor affecting the wedding dress preservation price is your location. Companies in major metro areas charge significantly more than those in small towns; furthermore, the average price varies by state.
Lastly, the cost depends on the fabric’s condition. If your dress has minor stains, the company may neglect them. But if it has hard to remove spots, you may have to pay extra.
Do I Need Wedding Dress Preservation?
Now that you know the difference between wedding dress dry cleaning and preservation, you may be wondering which option is right for you. Preservation is a significant expense that’s not necessary for everyone.
Wedding dress preservation is ideal for women who want to keep their dress as an heirloom and pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
That’s the only purpose of wedding dress preservation – maintaining your gown’s initial condition for decades.
As the dress will be packed in an air-tight box, preservation is only an option if you aren’t planning to take your dress out of the closet any time soon.
Once you break the seal, the dress becomes susceptible to damage, and you may void the warranty. You would need to seal the box air-tight again, and that’s an additional expense.
If you’re planning to transform your gown into a keepsake, donate it, sell it, wear it again later, or want to look at it once in a while – in other words, in any other case than keeping it as an heirloom – choose dry cleaning.
Dry cleaning is sufficient to remove stains and maintain your gown clean for years. It may not remain in a perfect condition for a century, but if that’s not your intent, paying more for preservation isn’t worth it.
How to Pick the Right Company
Suppose you want to preserve your dress as an heirloom. You’re likely wondering how to choose a wedding dress preservation company that won’t ruin your dress and will offer a fair price.
The easiest way to find a wedding gown preservation company is online. Many businesses specializing in wedding dress cleaning and preservation don’t have walk-in services and accept orders across the U.S.
It’s worth asking your local bridal salons whether they offer preservation services, too. However, remember that bridal salons usually outsource the job to third parties, so you may want to skip the middleman.
Your local dry cleaning companies may also offer preservation services. However, I wouldn’t risk it, as wedding gowns require special treatment, and regular dry cleaners may not have the necessary experience.
You should ask the company whether your dress will be cleaned individually or tossed with other gowns, what’s the definitive cleaning procedure and whether the company uses PERC cleaning agents for wedding gowns.
You want your dress to be cleaned separately from other clothes using agents suitable for delicate fabrics. PERC can cause irreversible damage to the material.
Asking what the cleaning process is like will help understand whether the company has sufficient expertise.
Avoid companies that give you the price right away, without asking about the dress condition, fabric, and design.
Giving an exact price over the phone isn’t always possible, but the company may at least give you an estimation.
Insurance & Warranty
A wedding dress preservation company must mandatorily give you a warranty. The warranty policies and duration differ from business to business, so you should read the contract carefully before signing it.
Most wedding gown preservation companies offer a 100 or 125-year warranty that guarantees no yellowing, brown oxidation spots, or fabric creasing will occur during the indicated period.
Some companies provide a lifetime warranty. However, each company defines lifetime differently.
Of course, each warranty has terms and exceptions you need to know. If you don’t follow the company preservation guidelines, you may void the warranty.
Another point to look for in a wedding dress preservation company is insurance. You should only trust your gown to someone who’s ready to take the responsibility and reimburse the entire gown cost if something goes wrong.
Correct Storage After Preservation
Although fabric treatment and air-tight seal should prevent fabric staining, deterioration, and mildew growth, the success of preservation also depends on your further actions. You should know how to store a wedding dress after preservation correctly.
Ideally, you should find a cool, dry place for your preservation box. Avoid attics, cellars, garages, and basements where the gown may be exposed to humidity, extreme temperatures, insects, or rodents.
Don’t open your wedding dress preservation box too often. There’s no harm in doing it once in ten years and professionally sealing it back right after, but you should ensure it doesn’t go against your warranty contract.
Bridal Accessory Preservation
Most wedding dress preservation companies also provide bridal accessory preservation services. Some offer to include multiple accessories for free along with your wedding gown, while others will charge you an additional fee.
Same as with wedding dress preservation, bridal accessory preservation is an excellent choice for brides who don’t want to sell, donate, or wear them again.
The accessories will be sealed in an air-tight box to maintain the visual condition.
Bridal accessory preservation may be a good option if you don’t want to preserve your gown but wish to keep something from your wedding as an heirloom. You may preserve your veil, shoes, or bag to pass it to future generations.
DIY Wedding Dress Preservation
Wedding dress preservation is costly, and not everyone can afford it. Brides who want to maintain the beauty of their gown for decades without paying a fortune can opt for DIY wedding dress preservation.
Some wedding gowns are wet-cleaning friendly, while others can only be dry-cleaned. Check the instructions on the label.
If it indicates no wet cleaning, you will still have to pay for dry cleaning services, but you can save on packing.
If your gown is suitable for wet cleaning, choose your detergent carefully. Avoid soap and harsh detergents – a liquid detergent for delicate fabrics is the best choice. A soft-bristled toothbrush will help you remove stains.
Never attempt to clean your gown in a washing machine unless the label explicitly states it’s safe. Instead, soak it in a bathtub and dry it flat. You shouldn’t use bleach on your gown either.
After your gown is dry, get some cotton gloves to avoid staining the fabric when handling it. Wrap it in acid-free tissue paper or muslin. Don’t use colored paper or muslin, as it may stain your dress over time.
Place the tissue between dress folds to avoid creasing, and put your gown in a box of a suitable size. It shouldn’t be too small or too large to prevent wrinkling and oxidation. Ensure the lid is tightly sealed.
Take your dress out of the box every couple of years to check its condition and refold it to avoid permanent creasing. Store the container in a cool, dry place.
Image credit: Unsplash