Storing Your Wedding Dress

The last thing you may be thinking about on your wedding day is storage and preservation of your gown. But it is wise to make this part of your wedding planning, especially if you are leaving for a honeymoon shortly after your wedding day.

If you have all the arrangements made ahead of time, you are more likely to get it taken care of sooner, as opposed to weeks or months or even years later!

Steps to successful storage of your dress:
1. Do some reading about the best options for storing your gown. You can easily do-it-yourself, and it is usually less expensive. Especially if you want to take it out and look at it in the future (which is strongly encouraged!). If you have packed it yourself in the first place, you will be more confident repacking it again later. You will find links to some articles on textile storage at the end of this post. Also, an on-line search will result in lots of options for learning about and purchasing the needed supplies.

2. If you are going to do it yourself, budget for it in your wedding planning and purchase the supplies well ahead of the wedding. This will make it easier to accomplish after the wedding.

3. Ask one of your bridesmaids or a parent to be responsible for wedding gown the day after the wedding. Even if that only means making sure it is carefully hung-up or folded until you return home from your honeymoon. Better yet, make pre-arrangements for it to be cleaned, have that person be responsible for getting it to your specified cleaners as soon as possible. (Please read the post about Dry-Cleaning before going to just any dry cleaners.)

4. If you have had it dry cleaned, make sure to let it air out for several days—outside of the cleaners plastic garment bag—in a well ventilated area before packing it away. Cleaning solvents, especially perchloroethylene (a.k.a. perc), off-gas for some time after a garment has been cleaned. This is true for any garment that has been dry cleaned! What ever you do, don’t leave it or any garment, in the plastic bag—especially for long periods of time.

5. Take your dress out and look at it often! Then carefully re-pack it using new materials if needed. There are two reasons for this, one, for the fun of looking at it again and having it bring back memories of your wedding day! The second reason is to make sure that it is not being eaten by moths or other critters, or getting moldy, and also to slightly change the way it lays in the box, which can help prevent permanent wrinkles. It won’t hurt it to take it out, as long as you repack it carefully and properly.

6. After you have carefully packed it, be sure that where you store it doesn’t negate all your efforts of careful packing. The storage area should be a neutral environment that doesn’t change drastically in temperature or moisture. This means that the basement or attic are the worst places to store the box! It’s best to store it in a closet or cupboard in the central part of your home. (And not a cedar one.)

7. If your dess is of a style that can be worn again, do it! Cut if off to cocktail length, add some color embellishments or details to take it from "wedding dress" to "party dress". This is obviously done more easily with less formal dresses, but choosing a style that is wearable again with just a few changes can make spending that chunk of change on it more rewarding. And really, all nostalgia aside, do you honestly think your daughter will wear it? Did you wear your mom's?

Basic tips and a few definitions:
• Make sure the garment is clean. Dirt, stains, body oils and odors can cause damage to the fabric over time.
• Remove any jewelry or pins, metal or plastic, colored ribbons or trim and other items that may discolor over time.
• Acid Free: Paper that has been specially processed to remove the acid. (That does not mean it will remain acid free. See "lignin free".)
• Lignin Free: Lignin is the substance that binds wood fibers together. Choose archival paper products that have been chemically processed to remove the lignin.
• Non-buffered: Tissue, paper or boxes that have not had any chemicals added to it during the manufacturing process.
• Buffered: Paper or boxes that have had chemicals added that neutralize other potentially harmful chemicals.
• The best choice for tissue paper that WILL come into direct contact with your garment is acid free, lignin free, non-buffered tissue with a neutral pH, especially for silk.
• The best choice for the box that WILL NOT come into direct contact with your garment is acid free, lignin free and buffered. Although non-buffered boxes are also appropriate for silk and wool garments.
• Add a sufficient amount of tissue paper to fully cushion the garment above and below it. Gently stuff some of the tissue into the sleeves, bodice and skirt to prevent creases which can lead to the breakdown of the fibers in the fabric.
• If you fold the garment use tissue paper betwenn the folds as a cushion to help avoid creases.
• Use a large box with plenty of room for air circulation. Lightly pack tissue around the edgs of the garment to keep it from sliding around in the box.
• Do not store the garment in a cedar chest or cedar closet or in a regular cardboard box.
• Don't use moth balls! They stink and the smell is almost impossible to get out. Besides, they don't work all that well.
• Do not store the box or garment in an airtight container or plastic.
• Avoid storing textiles in a damp basement or near direct heat sources.

Some links to archival textile storage:
Follow these links to read more about storing special garments to presreve them for the future.

Kent State Textile Musuem

Stanford Library

The Textile Museum

Hertiage Gown

Discover Nikkei