What Is Wedding Dress Preservation?

wedding dresses

The wedding dress is a symbol of finding eternal love and your “forever-someone”. When people see a wedding dress, they associate it with happiness, excitement, and fond memories. This is especially true for the owner of the dress after the wedding has ended, as they enjoy reminiscing on their special days.

Today’s brides have many options on what they can do with their dress from donating it to repurposing it as a cocktail dress. Other brides prefer to preserve their wedding dress to have for those touching stories to tell their grandchildren in the future. However, not everyone wants to or knows how to store a wedding dress causing it to lose its quality over time. 

That leaves the question of “why should I preserve my wedding dress?” in the minds of many brides. If this thought applies to you, keep reading. This article will tell you just why wedding gown cleaning and preserving is both easy and important.

What Is Wedding Dress Preservation?

bride and groom

Wedding dress preservation refers to keeping your wedding dress in good condition even after your big day has happened. Ideally, you don’t want your dress to have any stains or tears in it, nor do you want to just throw it into the washer and dryer after the day has ended. The main things you want to prevent are:

  • Fabric yellowing
  • Oxidation spots
  • Mold and mildew
  • Permanent creasing

While preserving your wedding dress is completely optional, cleaning your wedding dress is not. You should make sure to clean your dress after wearing it on your big day just like you would any other pair of clothing. Cleaning a wedding dress should be the first thing you do if you plan on donating or selling it.

Related: How Often To Dry Clean Suits

The Cost of the Dry Cleaning and Preservation of a Wedding Dress

If you thought that buying your wedding dress was a costly expense, then you will not be surprised by the cost it takes to preserve it. The total cost depends on both the method of cleaning and the condition of the dress. 

Minimal Cleaning

A dry-clean wedding dress with minimal stains can cost around $100 to $200 at high-end cleaners. This is due to the dress not requiring extensive cleaning or repair. Additionally, the removal of oils is the most expensive part of any cleaning, so that will run you an extra $50 on to the flat price.  

Full Repair

For dresses that have experienced those unfortunate stains or accidental rips, the price will differ greatly depending on where you are and how big the damage is. Most dry cleaning services will provide you with a flat cost, but depending on the damage you may have to pay additional fees to cover the extra time and materials that they would spend on you.


Believe it or not, after dry cleaning a wedding dress you have the option of boxing it up or putting it in a garment bag. Most dry cleaners like Judi’s Cleaners provide you with a garment bag already.

Should I Preserve My Wedding Dress?

what is wedding dress preservation

The short answer: maybe. Preserving a wedding dress is entirely up to the owner and the amount of money that they can put into the preservation. Most people preserve their gowns to preserve something physical from their special day, but what you choose to do with it is fully up to you.

If you want to preserve a dress, you will be able to find different kits based on your budget and needs. There are also DIY methods that you could potentially go for as well!

Wedding Dress Preservation vs. Traditional Dry Cleaning

Many dry cleaners will offer a basic package for dry cleaning your wedding dress, but they may not be able to fully fix or clean the fabric due to the lacking technology or skills. Preserving wedding dresses also have a set package, but these are just meant to help you gauge how much money you may be spending on your gown. Instead, you will either take your gown to a specialist, or you will receive a kit that you can prepare the dress for shipping with.

Meeting in Person for Preserving a Wedding Dress

Some cleaning companies will require you to bring the dress into their offices to allow a specialist to examine the fabric with you there to interview about your wants. Specialized dry cleaners will ask this of you as well, but you want to make sure that you do a thorough background check on their services to ensure that you receive only the highest quality of work. Also, with an in-person visit, you will have no trouble discussing potential fees or issues with your gown on the spot rather than having to wait two to three days for an email or phone call. 

Of course, this is only the first consultation. If you decide to go with the preservation and cleaning, you may not see your wedding dress for a few months due to the sheer amount of time and effort required for the full process. 

Sending the Dress In

If there are no specialists in your area, then you can opt for mailing your dress in for its preservation and cleaning. Many online bridal stores offer packages that allow you to send in your full bridal outfit (accessories and all) for full preservation. That means everything from your veil to your shoes can be kept in pristine condition without you even needing to step foot outside your home.

The price for sending in your gown depends on the company as they typically pay for shipping, and they are unable to discern the dress’ damage before it arrives. If you search online you will only find the companies’ flat fees and not the additional charges that you may accumulate once they receive the dress. The price also depends on how much of your outfit you wish to preserve. 

If you chose to just clean and preserve your dress at a specialized location, you are looking at around $300, not including additional charges. This may seem daunting given that your gown could face extreme damages while shipping from one end of the country to another, but it is actually a fair price for the services.

Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preserving Tips

If you do not know the first steps to wedding dress preservation, then these tips will be a great help to you when making big decisions like where to send your gown.

Look at Your Dress’ Label

The label provides great insight on how to clean a wedding dress. This is the first thing you should look at before deciding to do a DIY cleaning and preservation as they will usually provide specific directions like “dry-clean only”, or what cleaning solutions are needed. Always follow these instructions when looking for material to clean your gown with, or when you are looking for a dry cleaner for your gown. 

Keep an Eye Out for Invisible Stains

You will be surprised to find out that stains can form over time without you even realizing it. While you may notice the obvious red wine or grease stains on the skirt fabric, other stains that dry clear like white wine or water can create annoying stains if they are not treated effectively. For example, white wine stains can change into a dark brown due to the caramelization of the sugar; therefore cleaning it promptly will ensure that you are not met with any surprise stains.

Clean Quickly!

When it comes to preserving a wedding dress, you have to act quickly before the stain fully sets into the fabric. The stains have already permanently set into the fabric six weeks after your wedding. Since a clean dress is the first step to successful preservation, you want to send your gown in as soon as possible to prevent the stains from setting.

A great tip is to take your gown off the moment the reception ends and have it sent to the dry cleaners the next day.

DIY Wedding Dress Preservation

It is always recommended that you send your gown to a professional since they are trained to search for unseen stains, but not everyone prefers sending their dress to a stranger. If you decided to go for a DIY approach to preserving your dress instead of sending it to a professional, here are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure that your gown stays in pristine quality.

  1. Always use cotton gloves. You don’t want the oil from your fingers to stain the fabric.
  2. Spot test the fabric before you decide to fully clean it. Make sure that you do this on a part of the dress that is not visible to others just in case it causes a bit of harm.
  3. Use a gentle toothbrush, or other soft-bristled brushes.
  4. DO NOT use bleach as it can cause irreversible damages.
  5. Use acid-free containers (boxes or garment bags) to store the dress.
  6. Every few years check on your dress for creases and refold if needed.

These tips are extremely important to keep in mind, especially if you are not performing the cleaning on your own.

How to Store Your Wedding Dress

The last thing you should consider is how you should store your dress. After all, you don’t want to spend all that time and money to keep your gown in its best shape and still have to witness it slowly degrade in quality. Keep these next few things in mind if you want to make sure that your storage is sufficient.

Airtight Packaging

After your dress is preserved by a professional, you have the option of buying a special box made just for storing the gown. These boxes are airtight and provide a little plastic window for you to admire the front of your dress down to its waist. This is especially great for brides who want to put their beautiful gown on display in their closet or for others to see. 

The most important part about that box though is that it is airtight and prevents any outside moisture from penetrating it. The moisture can cause mold or mildew to build upon your dress and create stains over time. If you opt for a simpler container, though, you can add silica packets to suck up the extra moisture and just replace them when needed.

If you use a garment bag, just make sure that you do not hang the dress on a hanger made of wood or metal as the gown is much heavier than normal clothes. The hangers will cause the dress to pull and tear, eventually misshaping its shoulders.

A Cool, Dark Place

You want to store your dress in the coolest and darkest part of your house to prevent sun damage and moisture build-up. It is not recommended to store it in an attic or garage as the temperature in these places can fluctuate depending on the location and time of the year. Your best bet is in your closet or somewhere else that has a controlled temperature.

Final Thoughts

Preserving a wedding dress is akin to preserving a precious memento. You want to keep it in the quality that you received it in to ensure that every memory attached will flow easily into your thoughts with every detail fully fleshed out.

While preservation seems a bit expensive, it is always a great avenue to take when you want to hold on to your dress rather than selling or donating it.

Make sure to entrust your wedding dress preservation to a reputable company. If you’re in the Sacramento area, we’d love to help with your wedding dress preservation!

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