Picture this, ladies: Your big day has come and gone, and it went off without a hitch. The flowers were beautiful. The band was rockin’. And your Uncle Vic managed to stay mostly sober. You even got nearly all the gifts on your registry, and you’re back from your dream honeymoon. Now you’re faced with the challenge: What to do with the dress?
Many women choose to save their wedding gown to pass down to future generations. But preserving your gown can be a tricky business, especially if you plan to store it in the same place over the course of a lifetime. You want to make sure that this precious heirloom not be damaged in any way. So we recommend the following wedding dress storage tips:
1) Thoroughly clean and steam the gown before storing, paying special attention to the hem, which is usually the most soiled. Stains, even barely visible ones, will set over time, leading to yellowing and other damage.
2) Do NOT wrap the gown in plastic for long-term storage. It will cause permanent wrinkles and may cause mildew from moisture trapped under the plastic. Instead, use white acid-free tissue paper or unbleached muslin to wrap the gown. (Don’t use ordinary tissue paper, which contains acid and can scorch the fabric. Don’t use colored tissue paper either. If the box accidentally becomes wet, it could stain your gown.)
3) Don’t hang your dress on an ordinary wooden or wire hanger; the weight of the dress will stretch and distort the weave of the fabric. Try a plastic or padded hanger instead.
4) Placed the dress in an acid-free or pH-neutral box, such as a sturdy paperboard box, which allows the gown to breathe and adjust with changing temperatures. Some boxes feature a viewing window — a clear panel designed so you can see your gown without opening the box. If your box features a window, look for acetate rather than plastic, and keep the box out of direct light, which can yellow the fabric over time.
5) Light and heat play the most damaging roles when it comes to gown preservation, so store your gown in a place where you would feel physically comfortable. That rules out a hot attic or damp basement. Under your bed or in a cool, dry closet — like a Manhattan Mini Storage unit! — would be an ideal location.
6) When reopening the box and/or handling the gown, make sure your hands are clean and free of any oils that could transfer to the gown and cause yellowing over time.
Want to learn more? A gown preservation expert sounds off in this video from The New York Times.
Happy storing, and mazel tov on your nuptials!