You may have dreamt of the perfect dress for months, if not years, before your wedding day. You knew it was perfect the moment you lay eyes on it was tried on, fitted and tried again. Obsessively repeating the pattern until it was the most perfect wedding dress you had ever worn.
On your wedding day, you were lovely assisted into it. Friends, family and loved ones cried with joy the first time they saw you in it. It was absolute perfection.
But with your wedding day now behind you, what comes next?
1.Do I keep my wedding dress?
The most commonly held opinion, as such an essential part of your day, is sentimentally challenging to part with is yes! This is totally understandable, as your wedding dress will have been a significant part of your wedding story. It is something that represents so much love, happiness, and celebration. So the idea of giving it up is a total non-starter for many.
If you choose to keep and store your wedding dress, please do not simply shove it to the back of your wardrobe between other long-forgotten clothing. Wedding dresses and gowns are typically highly intricate in design and highly delicate. As such, not all dresses can be cleaned the same, and proper storage is key to long-term preservation.
Why Preserve Your Wedding Dress?
The first step is to think of your dress as a family heirloom that will last a lifetime and probably longer if cared for. Proper preservation steps will reduce the risk of your dress developing;
- Yellowing of the fabric
- Brown oxidation spots
- Mould and mildew growth
- Permanent fabric creasing
How Much Does Wedding Dress Preservation Cost?
Wedding dress preservation is a series of special cleaning and packaging techniques to ensure the style will retain its quality over time.
Wedding Dress Preservation Cost
If you plan to preserve your dress after your wedding, you will want to include this cost in your wedding budget. Prices do vary, but for a ball gown style wedding, shoes, veil and underskirt, you can expect to pay around £350
Specialist Wedding Dress Cleaning
The first step in preserving your new heirloom should be professional cleaning. There are several specialist UK wedding dress cleaning companies, some of whom we have listed below. The difference between these and your standard dry cleaners is that they specialise in regularly handling delicate items such as wedding dresses. If not handled correctly, incorrect solvents can cause beadwork to melt, glue holding diamantes in place to dissolve and colours to run.
These companies also offer a boxing service so your dress can be safely stored away once returned.
Choose your dress cleaning service just like you have chosen every other one of your wedding suppliers. Look at the service they offer, read the reviews and once you have narrowed down the list, speak to them.
Check what guarantees they offer against damage during the cleaning process. For example, does their warranty cover the dress's cost or just the cleaning and preservation? Furthermore, find out how long they guarantee the wedding dress will remain pristine after its preservation.
Wedding Dress Preservation Tips
The things you can't see can actually be the most damaging. For example, we all know to take extra care when drinking certain drinks, such as red wine, around light-coloured clothing. However, what is less well known is that many clear drinks, such as champagne, contain sugars that, if left, will turn brown. Essentially as the liquid dries and evaporates, the remaining sugars will slowly caramelise. These stains are difficult to shift, even with ordinary dry cleaning. So if the dress looks fine and is simply put away, six months later, the latent stain will have turned yellow and then continue to brown. Keeping the dress in a warm space will actually accelerate the process.
Specialist cleaners know how to look for these and look for the invisible. No matter how stained your dress gets, you will find that most can be eradicated without evidence they were ever there. So no matter if the bottom of your dress gets dirty while we take that fantastic photo. Or you failed to doge the red wine. Or an overzealous aunt smudges her foundation while giving you a hug. Almost every stain can be made to disappear.
Read The Labels
You want to pay attention to the care label on your wedding dress. So don't cut it out! While most care labels give basic instructions we then ignore, those on your gown can be very important. For example, specific instructions and what chemicals can and can't be used, such as "Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent.". Without these instructions, the person cleaning your wedding dress will have to make assumptions, which is never good. If the label is in a hard-to-find place, pass this information along.
The sooner you send your wedding dress to be cleaned, the better. Professional cleaning is the first step in the long-term preservation of your dress. You want to do this before any stains have had a chance to set in. So for the best results, time is of the essence.
Most of the professional services listed above offer a pick-up and drop off service to help ensure they receive your dresses as soon as possible,
Take your dress off as soon as the reception is over, and ensure it gets to the dry cleaner the next day. If you're jetting off on a honeymoon, arrange for a bridesmaid or trusted family member to take it for you.
How to store Your Wedding Dress
Once your wedding dress has been cleaned and returned, it is time to think about storing it. Ideally, you want to be looking for somewhere cool, dark and dry. Sunlight will cause almost all pigments to fade over time, and unless your dress is yellow, it's not the colour you want. So protecting your wedding dress from direct sunlight is another important consideration.
Cellars and attic spaces are often chosen as the "obvious" place to put something into long-term storage, but be careful. Both can often be damp and experience large swings in temperature, neither of which your wedding dress will thank you for.
While hangers are designed to help an item of clothing drape correctly, they can cause dresses to become misshapen over time. The heavier the dress, the quicker this can happen, so removing the hanger is best.
Plastic carry bags are designed to protect the dress for short periods, but can also trap moisture, so don't use these as a long-term storage solution.
All of the specialist wedding dress cleaning companies listed above offer preservation boxes. While an additional cost option, these boxes are designed specifically for wedding dresses with acid-free board and paper used. They are the perfect option for long-term storage.
What About Wedding Shoes and Bouquet?
Most specialist companies also offer cleaning and preservation solutions for shoes, veils, garters etc. These can either be added to your main dress request or ordered separately.
For bridal bouquets, you can press, hang, and coat the flowers in wax or use epoxy resin to preserve the flowers.
2. Can I sell my wedding dress?
Not all of us are so sentimental. Once we have had our perfect day, the dress has done its part. Often putting your dress into storage can seem like too much hassle making selling it can seem the obvious choice. This is especially true if you need more space and looking to recoup some of the money you spent.
Selling your wedding dress, however, doesn't guarantee simplicity. Finding someone with a similar shape, with the same taste in dress and who is willing to pay what you want can be challenging.
Social media sites such as Facebook Marketplace, or second-hand shops like eBay, can seem like obvious options, but there are others. There has been an increasing trend of specialist sites launching aimed at connecting prospective brides with pre-loved dressed such as;
Deciding if you want to sell your dress is a personal one, so some considerations might be;
Consider selling your dress if:
- You went over budget on your wedding ceremony/reception and are looking to recoup even a small bit of the cost.
- You feel a tad guilty that your dress was purchased for you by a loved one, and you want to pay that kind deed forward.
- You want a little extra cash to spend on your honeymoon
- You'd like to start a vow renewal fund, or even begin saving for retirement.
Consider keeping your dress if:
- You can afford to get your dress professionally cleaned and preserved.
- You're a nostalgic person who wants to relive her wedding day by gazing at her gown from time to time.
- You have or are planning to have children who you'd love to see wear your dress on their special day.
- You're a crafty person who wants to repurpose your gown into a cocktail dress or even something like a quilt that can be passed down for generations.
- You want to renew your vows in the same gown you said "I do" in
3. Can You Lend Your Wedding Dress?
If you can't quite bring yourself to sell your dress but don't want it sitting doing nothing, why not lend it?
Once the dream day is behind you, it's not unusual to start looking at ways to make some money back. Couples have been selling their used wedding items for years. They have all found their way onto eBay and Facebook marketplace, from chair covers to wedding decorations and almost anything else.
But what if instead of selling, you could lend and get paid not once but multiple times? With the rise of shared fashion sites such as MyWardrobe HQ, Selfridges, Rotaro, HURR and By Rotation, where you can list a wardrobe to share, you now can.
While not an option that will appeal to everyone, it is an excellent way to make your dress work for you and simultaneously bring happiness to many other people.
4.Can I Donate My Wedding Dress
Donating your wedding dress can be one of the most emotionally rewarding things you can choose to do with your dress. Many organisations would happily accept your dress as a donation, including your local theatre or charity.
If you have decided you would like to donate your wedding dress read our guide. Not only are you taking an eco-conscious approach, but wedding dress donation supports many charitable initiatives that bring support and happiness to others.
5.Can I Tun my Wedding Dress into Art
An alternative to keeping your wedding dress but hiding it away is to turn it into a work of art. Working with a specialist company such as The Beautiful Frame Company, it is possible to frame your dress. Once prepared, you can hang it anywhere in the home you have space, such as a bathroom, or living room, to create a truly show-stopping piece of artwork.
6. Can I Reimagine my Wedding Dress
Another way to reuse and repurpose your dress is to turn it into another piece of clothing. How you choose to do this depends on your personal taste and lifestyle. You can look to have a professional reimagine it as another dress to wear again or have it made into multiple smaller items of clothing and accessories.
7. Can I Destroy my Wedding Dress
Trash the dress is a wedding photoshoot where you and your photographer can really get imaginative. You can try all those things you have seen but would have been impossible or impractical on your wedding day for fear of trashing the dress.
Take your dress into the sea (warm weather, shoot this one), or take a walk in the woods. Go hiking in the hills or get down and muddy on a farm. The only absolute limit is your imagination.
Trash the dress shoots don't have to result in the dress being destroyed, and we have indeed shot several where this was the case. But you should arrive assuming some damage is going to occur.
These shoots can be perfect for getting stunning wedding-style portraits that are simply impossible to get on your wedding day.
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