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Wedding Dress Preservation

A wedding is one of the most important events in life and the beginning of a new family’s history. Preserving a wedding gown can be a daunting task. But with the right products and a little guidance – the process can be streamlined.

Prior to storage, it is important to have your gown professionally laundered. Any stains or residue left on the garment have the potential to become permanent discoloration over time – even if they aren’t visible at the time.

Some people choose to store wedding dresses in specialty garment bags and store them hanging or lying flat, but storing a wedding gown in a box is the best choice for long-term storage and preservation. Damage can be caused to the seams of a heavy dress if stored hanging. Keeping the dress is a box allows for even pressure, greatly diminishing the stress on the seams and fabric. A box will also eliminate the musty feel and scent of a dress stored hanging in garment bags but not used regularly.

When selecting storage materials, it is important to consider the type of material from which the gown is made. Cellulose fibers such as cotton and linen can be stored in buffered material. Protein based materials such as silk, wool and pearls require unbuffered storage materials. If the item has mixed fibers or you are unsure of the fiber content of the garment, choose unbuffered materials.

When selecting a box, it is important to know the size and dimensions of the gown. Do not store the gown with any accessories – these should be stored separately. Acid- and lignin-free tissue will also be needed to pad any folds that need to be made. Wrapping and packaging your wedding dress over and over can damage the dress, so wait until you are truly ready to store and preserve the dress before boxing it up. This can be a time-consuming process, so don't package the dress until you are sure it will not need to remove it from the package again for some time.

When you are ready to store the gown, make sure you have a large, clean work surface. You will also want to wash your hands thoroughly and remove any jewelry that may snag on more delicate fabrics. Wearing cotton gloves can be helpful for preventing the transfer of oils from your hands to the garment.

Start by gently folding the wedding gown, without creasing it. Wrap the sleeves under the bodice of the bridal gown, and then fold that back over the skirt. Wrap the skirt up and over the top of the bodice. After this, you can continue to fold the gown until it will neatly fit into the box snugly, but not too tightly. Pad all of the folds with tissue paper. Keep all folds loose and avoid creasing.

Use acid free tissue paper to place between each of the folds of the dress to help prevent creasing or the fabric touching other parts of the dress. Since many wedding gowns use special stitching, beads, sequins or pearls, you do not want these items to scratch or snag satin or silk fabrics when folded. Placing tissue paper between each fold will help prevent this.

Once the folding is complete, wrap the wedding gown one more time completely with unbleached muslin or tissue paper and place in the box.

Store the box in a location with a stable temperature and humidity level. Do not store in a basement or attic. Store the box off the floor and in an area that is not regularly subject to light. A closet shelf is a good option.

When you are ready to reuse the gown or remove it from the box, reverse the process and be careful not to snag or catch the dress or pull too roughly when taking it out of the box. Once removed, besides slight wrinkling of some material, your wedding gown should look every bit as good as it did the day you stored it.