How to store a wedding dress before and after the big day

Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash

One of the most important parts of any wedding day is the dress. Whether it was since you were a little girl or simply from the moment you actually find the right dress, brides fall in love with how they feel and look in their wedding dress and all of the memories locked inside from that big day. 

But for all of that time spent searching and styling that dress, when that one day is through, what do you do with it? It’s not exactly the most re-wearable item in your wardrobe. And because of the sentimental value embedded in all the seams, ribbons, buttons, sequins, and more, you want to keep it for as long as you can. 

So here at Little Mistress, we’ve put together some tips on how to store a wedding dress and how to upcycle it to get the most out of it. 

Pre-wedding day storage

The first step in ensuring a long storage future for your dress is making sure you get started off on the right foot. Obviously no one really buys or gets their dress the day before their wedding, so maintenance ahead of the wedding day is important not only for the dress to look its best on the day of, but also ensuring that it will be in a good condition for its long-term storage. After all, we don’t spend all that time and money on the perfect dress to then let it go too early.

To keep the dress in the best condition prior to the wedding, the first step is to not leave the dress hanging in its bag for too long. This can impact the shape of the dress, especially if it has a lot of ornate beading or a heavy skirt, distorting the neck line, straps, and more. To make sure gravity doesn’t do too much damage, make sure to use the hanger straps.

Instead, you’ll want to leave it in a breathable fabric storage bag or cloth garment bag in a cool and dark place away from direct sunlight so that it maintains its natural colour. Do not leave it with a plastic covering if possible and if you don’t have the right garment bag available, a duvet or bed sheet covering can work just as well!

As many brides have had to postpone their weddings in the past year or are just starting the planning, knowing how to handle their dress prior to their wedding, can give their dress a lasting lifetime for more than one day.

Photo by Katy Duclos on Unsplash

How to store your wedding dress 

Now hopefully you’ve made it through the big day without any dramas or big spills on your wedding dress. So how do you make sure you store it correctly to last as long as possible?

Many will quickly head to a local dry cleaner before storing the dress away. However, not any old dry cleaner will do. In order to really allow your dress to last, take it to a wedding dress specialist dry cleaners to ensure that dress is professionally steamed and cleaned. You’ll also want to do this as soon as possible after the wedding to not allow any stains to really settle into the fabric.

Once cleaned, you’ll want to cover the dress in acid-free tissue paper and store it in an acid-free cardboard box. Much like you don’t want to leave your dress in plastic covering prior to your wedding, you also don’t want to leave your dress in a plastic box. A plastic box can deteriorate and interact with the fabric of the dress, as well as allowing light and heat to alter the colour and materials. Especially with more delicate fabrics like lace, a plastic box can really change your dress.

It’s also important to make sure that your cardboard box is specifically acid free as otherwise your dress could still get damaged with the acid that can permeate most cardboard boxes.

Once your wedding dress is cleaned and secured in its appropriate storage box, you’ll want to keep it in a dark and cool place in your house that also remains relatively dry. In other words, AVOID storing it in the attic. It’s best to leave it in the back of a dry closet on its own.

Photo by J Williams on Unsplash

Upcycling your wedding dress

Preserving and storing a wedding dress is not for everyone-especially if your closet space is already at capacity. And it really is a shame to let a wedding dress never be seen again.

So here are some ideas for how to upcycle your dress and give it new life:

  1. Snip, snip, snip: We know that this sounds horrid, but why not cut it back? Yes, you probably won’t want to rock a long train, but you can cut back the long skirt and make a mini dress out of your existing wedding dress. You can also take the cuts of fabric and create special mementos like a framed keepsake which includes dried flowers from your bouquet set against part of your wedding dress. You can even ask your bridal party if they could give you a sliver of their bridesmaid’s dresses to add to the keepsake.
  1. Dye it: Half of the fear in saving your dress comes from how age will alter its colour. But instead of letting it turn yellow, dye it your favourite colour (Professionally, of course. We’re not saying to tie-dye it. Unless that’s what you’re looking for!). If your dress has a lot of beading, sequins, or other embellishments, this might not be as easy, but not impossible. And with dying it, you’re probably more inclined to wear the dress more than once without feeling like you’re in a wedding gown.
  1. Frame it: Similar to what we mentioned earlier, but instead frame the whole thing! You will still have to go through the professional dry cleaning process to make sure all visible stains and natural oils are removed before framing. However, instead of storing it away, you now have a piece of artwork to decorate your walls that means a lot to you and your significant other.
  1. Sell it on or donate: It may be too emotional for some brides to give away their perfect dress, but why not gift another bride-to-be the chance to feel special on her own special day? You can sell it online through sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplaces or donate to bride-specific charities like Brides Do Good, to make sure your dress finds a good home.
  1. Pass it down: Yes, you can save your dress to pass it down to your children one day, but in more than one way. You can take the fabric and upcycle it into your child’s christening outfit to give it that extra special touch. You can also sew it into your child’s wedding dress one day as a bit of something old. Instead of just one special day, your wedding dress can be a part of many special days in your family’s lives. 

Many think that the wedding dress is for one day only, when in actual fact it can live on beyond that day. Whether you turn it into a sentimental keepsake in pristine condition, upcycle it into something you’d rewear, or simply pass it on to the next lucky bride, a wedding dress can have so much more than one life. 

If you’re on the lookout for the perfect gown, make sure to check out the Little Mistress wedding dress collection

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