Expert Tips for Storing Your Wedding Dress
I am sure that you were thrilled when you got the call that the wedding dress of your dreams had finally been delivered to the bridal shop...or you would have been ecstatic if you hadn't had to postpone your wedding for a full year, right? If you are suddenly filled with dread at the thought of what to do with your dress for over a year, we are here to help! Many of our pre-pandemic brides were given tips such as "avoid cooking until after the wedding so your dress doesn't absorb the smells" and "keep it in a cool, dry place"...and is just to store it at home for a few days! Well, we spoke with Nila Gober, retired museum curator and textile specialist, for her tips on safely storing a dress for over a year. If you have to postpone your wedding or your dress came in super early but your shop can't store it, keep reading for tips on how and where to store your gorgeous gown until your big day.
How to Store Your Wedding Dress
Most brides, their first instinct for storage would been to seal your gown in a vacuum bags sealing it off from any air or dust until it is needed. However, plastic can leech gases over time, which causes a terrible odor, so this is a definite no-go for long-term storage. According to Nila, the garment bag it comes packed in from the store is actually even worse.
"Most garment bags that come with your purchased gown are synthetic and better suited for transporting your gown from location to location as it is only meant to repel dirt and moisture. Whatever you do, do not store your gown using that garment bag." Nila told us. "Instead, cover your dress with a natural, breathable fabric. A cotton garment bag or clean white cotton sheet is best." The only issue with a breathable fabric is that odors from cooking can get trapped in the fabric. However, if you live in a small apartment where there really is no other place to hide away your dress safely, you can always take it to a dry cleaner a few months prior to your new wedding date as part of the alterations process. After all, all fabrics will trap scents. This way, you get steaming, cleaning, and alterations from the pros all in one fell swoop!
Where to Store a Wedding Dress
Once you have your dress carefully covered in a breathable cotton fabric, Nila recommends that it be stored in a dry, dark place, like under your bed, in an acid-free archival safe box. Even though your closet may be considered dark and dry, hanging your dress isn't advised. "It is always best to storing your gown lying down to relieve pressure from the straps and seams to keep it intact until the big day." Additionally, if there are heavy embellishments on your gown, the pressure of those elements would be alleviated as well.
If your pets that love hanging out under your bed a high closet shelf would also be an option. It's still dark and dry as long as you have doors on your closet, but keep it far away from any sharp cat claws, dog nails or dirty paws. Even if your pet isn't "prone to scratching, pet hairs and bridal fabrics, especially tulle, are not a good combination," Nila informed us.
If neither of those are options for you, Nila suggested contacting your local dry cleaner to see if they have storage options for you. "If a local dry cleaner offers storage options, that's a great option to pursue because it eliminates all the variables."
Will My Wedding Dress Turn Yellow While In Storage?
Another common concern with storing your dress for a long period of time is maintaining the pristine white or ivory of your dress fabric. The fear that it will turn yellow is certainly a valid concern especially if it is not properly stored. This is often the reason many brides preserve their dresses following the wedding. "Yellowing or discoloration typically happens when fabrics come into contact with sweat and other chemicals. You should not see yellowing on your gown if it is stored away from moisture and is not in contact with plastics of any kind." Hooray for that!
Following your wedding, be sure to have your gown dry cleaned right away to clear away any liquid spills, stains both seen and unseen and as well as any yellowing sweat or chemicals that might have come into contact with the fabrics. If you don't opt to have your dress professionally preserved, Nila recommends once again returning your gown to that same acid-free archival safe box stuffing the chest and sleeves with acid-free archival safe tissue paper, folding pieces of tissue into any of the folds or creases to keep the fabrics from breaking down. "Be sure to remove your gown from its box and refold it annually to keep the creases from setting and cracking the fabric into rips.", Nila advised. "If you are concerned about exposure to air or moisture, place your archival safe box into a large hard plastic Tupperware tub to keep it sealed."
Good luck, Corona brides! You're going to look stunning, whenever your day comes.