Wedding Gowns

Your wedding gown is one of your most precious possessions. It is a symbol of an important event in your life and, as such, should be treated with special care. Whether you are borrowing it from a relative or buying it new, your gown deserves your attention, both before the wedding and afterward.

Choosing a Wedding Dress 
edding consultants agree that if you are buying a new dress for the big day, you should begin shopping at least six months before your wedding date. This will give you ample you ample time to find the style, fabric, and accessories that suit you. It also will allow time for the manufacturing and shipping of a dress that is special-ordered. Today's bridal gowns are made from satin, taffeta, chiffon, organza, brocade, and lace and are accented with delicate trims, such as beads, seed pearls, sequins, embroidery, lace, and applique'.

When shopping for your dress, ask the salesperson whether both the dress and trim are drycleanable. If possible, get the information in writing. Cleaners often find that trim that is glued on rather than sewn on sometimes does not stand up to the drycleaning process. Other trims, such as beads and pearls, dissolve when cleaned with solvent. You want to make sure that your entire dress is drycleanable so that you can preserve your investment for many years.

If you are wearing an heirloom gown, allow plenty of time for professional cleaning as well as any alterations that may be necessary. Because many fabrics naturally yellow with age, you should check the gown carefully for any discoloration. Often, yellowing can be overcome if the gown can be carefully wetcleaned. If you find any color changes, take your gown to a cleaner who understands restoration of delicate and antique materials. 

After the Wedding... 
Most brides want to preserve their dress as a keepsake, perhaps for their own daughter to wear on her wedding day. Cleaning industry experts recommend that you have the dress cleaned by an expert before storage.

The dress may have invisible stains from food, beverages, and body oils. If these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent. Therefore, it is important to point out any stains or spills to your cleaner before cleaning.

Most wedding gowns have some sort of decorative trim. Again, it is important to inspect these trims with your cleaner prior to cleaning since many trims are not made to withstand the drycleaning process. For example, many beads, glitter, sequins, and laces are attached to gowns with adhesives that dissolve during drycleaning. Some beads and glitter are made of plastics or covered with surface coatings that are not solvent-resistant. In many of these cases, the trim becomes separated from the dress or altered in some way.

In some cases, decorative trims yellow as their finishes oxidize. An ivory or ecru trim may lose its color and no longer match the gown if a dye component is lost in cleaning. Color failures of this type are due to poor colorfastness of the dye, not to improper cleaning.

Special Care Instructions 
The Care Label Rule clearly states that wearing apparel, such as wedding gowns, must have a care label that provides a viable care method. The care label covers all component parts of the gown, including all decorative trim. Gowns that fail to withstand the care procedure on the label should be returned to the retailer for an adjustment.

Look at the care label before purchasing your gown to make sure you understand the recommended cleaning instructions. When it comes time to clean your gown, find a local cleaner who can professionally dry or wetclean it. You need not send your gown away for cleaning and storage; there are many specially trained cleaners in your area who can assist you for a fair and reasonable price. 

Storing Your Gown 
Unfortunately, no process or storage method can guarantee against yellowing or possible deterioration of fabrics. There are, however, several steps you can take to protect your garment:

  • Have your cleaner pack the gown in a special storage box that will help prevent contamination.
  • Store your gown in a cool, dry place. Do not store it in a basement or attic. Basement dampness could cause mildew; attic heat could promote yellowing of the fabric. 
  • If you are storing a long gown on a hanger, sew straps to the waistline of the dress to relieve pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the skirt. Wrap the dress in a protective white sheet or muslin covering. 
  • Whether the gown is hung or boxed, the bodice should be stuffed with white tissue paper to prevent wrinkles. Fabric-covered buttons, pins, sponge padding, and perspiration shields should be removed and stored separately to avoid damage to the fabric. 
  • Inspect your gown from time to time during storage. Stains not initially apparent could appear later, and should be tended to immediately.

Preserving the quality of your wedding gown may be the finest gift you can give yourself and a loved one.