Should I Preserve My Wedding Dress? The Complete Guide

You spend months, maybe years planning your wedding day, but some things you don’t give much thought to until afterward… such as what to do with your wedding dress after the big day.

Some brides are 100% certain that they want to keep their dress for the future – either to wear it again or to pass it down to family. But some brides go that step further and wonder “should I preserve my wedding dress?”

Here we answer that question and discuss everything you need to know about the preservation process (there’s quite a lot to it!) and the reasons why you should perhaps indeed preserve your wedding dress…

should I preserve my wedding dress

Firstly, What Exactly Is Wedding Dress Preservation?

Put simply, wedding dress preservation is the process of having your wedding gown professionally cleaned and then preserved to guarantee that it won’t become yellow and stained in the future. It’s the safest way to secure your gown.

How the dress is then stored, in a special box, is also a crucial part of the preservation process.

If you thought that you could just hang your gown up in a spare wardrobe in its material bag – think again. It may not age well in that bag gathering dust, and any existing stains will get worse in there!

Even if your wedding dress did not get heavy stains on it from the wedding day, there are still elements that will need cleaning – for example, did you know that both perspiration and the deodorant you used could stain your gown over time? 

Can All Types of Wedding Dress Be Preserved?

Every wedding gown is unique, with a blend of different materials, which is why each dress must be carefully examined for staining.

Some materials clean up better than others and delicate fabrics will need a certain approach. Every fabric used within your dress will be carefully cataloged with a plan of action for treatment.

This treatment plan is then dependent on the type of gown, the material, the embellishments, the color, the age of the dress – and even the designer.  

Why Wouldn’t I Preserve My Wedding Dress?

Some brides consider this preservation process a bit of a hassle and an unnecessary expense after what may have been a very expensive wedding. However, if you want to keep your dress in pristine shape for the future then it is worth thinking about this carefully. 

Some women are very sentimental about their wedding dress, they want to preserve the memories and have their gown to hand, be able to get it out, touch the fabric and try it on from time to time.

I love the idea of trying on my dress every anniversary – although let’s face it, it probably wouldn’t fit, and would I actually do it? If the dress was kept in a preservation box you would be even less likely to get it out.

If you are still not sure about what to do with your wedding gown but you’re thinking about more sustainable ideas, then check out our article here with more ideas of what to do with your wedding dress.

How Does the Preservation Process Work?

The first part of the wedding dress preservation process is deep cleaning. Once a professional has had a chance to examine and catalog your gown, a custom plan is created for the team of cleaning experts. They will be using museum-grade cleaning agents and techniques.

This cleaning plan is designed to ensure your gown is cleaned as best as it can and in the most effective way for your particular dress.

How Is the Dress Stored?

Once your wedding gown is cleaned, the team of professionals will then place it with great care onto a preservation bust, which is then placed in an acid-free box designed for long-term storage. This is sometimes called a preservation chest.

This is not just a normal box or chest, if done correctly this box will be like the ones used in museums to preserve and maintain the integrity of artifacts and historical pieces. This is what works best on gowns. So you can now think of your wedding dress as a protected precious artifact and family heirloom!

The storage box should also have microscopic holes over it to allow the fabric of your wedding dress to breathe. Inside the box are layers of acid-free paper that won’t stain or harm the gown, but add another layer of protection after the cleaning process.

The box will also include a perspex ‘window’ so you can have a peek at your gown whenever you want to!

What if I Want to Get It Out of Its Storage Box?

Once you have your gown in its storage box you need to be very careful with opening the box.

You will want to use light gloves to touch the dress – otherwise, oils and dirt from your hands could ruin it – that would be a disaster after you’ve had it preserved!

Some of the online preservation services include “sealing squares” which you can use to reseal the seams of your storage box in the event you need to open it.

Who Can Preserve My Dress for Me?

You have several options to consider for your wedding dress preservation.

Firstly you can research local dry cleaners in your area – but make sure that they specialize in wedding gown preservation. Talk to them about your dress and any current stains that you know about – make sure you feel certain that your dress will be getting the individual care that she deserves!

Some of these professional cleaners will work closely with bridal boutiques – so you could start by asking the boutique you bought your dress in if they have any recommendations for you.

The other route to explore is using an online wedding dress preservation service. They make the process very easy, and you don’t even have to leave the house because you send the dress to them in a special kit.

Mail-in preservation services are safe, insured, and guaranteed for over 100 years.  Preserving your dress with a mail-in service is also a more affordable price than using an individual dry cleaning expert.

What if My Wedding Dress Is Old?

If your beautiful bridal gown has already been hanging up in your wardrobe for years, you may feel it’s too late to get it professionally preserved – but it is not!

Speak to a professional for their advice. While it may not be possible to have your dress back to totally pristine condition; if it isn’t badly stained it should be okay to clean up and preserve!

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