1. The cleaning process
Most gowns go through quite a beating the day of. From sand and water to grass and dirt, gowns can acquire numerous types of soil from the ground up. Did you know there are stains invisible to the eye? Sugar stains are the most common and don’t pose a problem until months and/or years later if not cleaned properly. Tequila, chardonnay, and soda are the most common threats. An educated and seasoned dry cleaner will know the difference between these stains and the appropriate steps to remove them, including the stains we cannot see. Never trust a dry cleaner that quotes you over the phone. Not all gowns are the same and a good dry cleaner will ask to see the gown first before giving a proper quote. This also applies to preservation companies. Also, keep in mind that preservation companies will clean the gown for you as part of the process. And lastly, you get what you pay for! If a dry cleaner quotes you under $100, RUN! Most gowns will run between $100-$200 to clean properly.
2. Not all preservation methods work.
This is where most brides go wrong. But it’s really not your fault. Unless you’ve spent time in a museum and were properly educated about the science behind storing textiles and terms such as acid-free, chemically inert, lignin-free, muslin, blah, blah, blah…then you’re just a normal bride looking for the easiest and most cost-effective way to get this done. Let’s settle the confusion. There are 2 types of preservation. Sealed and unsealed. Sealed versions have a viewing window and are made of cardboard. They’re inexpensive, usually running between $99-$199. These methods do not allow you access to your gown and void the warranty if you open it. This method leaves you with no real recourse if something goes wrong. And considering you can’t see majority of the gown, it’s pretty safe to say it could be years before you realize your gown was damaged during the process. However, the second method is unsealed. These boxes utilize stable polypropylene boxes with no viewing window. The gown is layered with archival tissue and wrapped in muslin. These act as filters to protect the gown from light, humidity, and dust. The tissue will also absorb any acid near or on the gown, preventing it from turning yellow. This method is highly used in museums around the world. Basically, in a nutshell, if you ever wanted access to your gown for any reason, you’re going to get it! Also, according to conservationists, it’s a much safer environment for your gown! So, when your out of pocket expense reaches into the $250-$500 range, don’t be surprised. Remember, you get what you pay for!
3.Storing your gown
Once your gown is cleaned and preserved it’s up to you to store it safely. Stay away from tossing it in to a garage, attic, or basement. Temperature and humidity changes can wreak havoc on your precious heirloom. Recommended areas for storage include a closet, under a bed, or in a guest bedroom. Living in a tiny starter apartment with no extra space? We recommend calling up your new Mother-in-law. I’m sure she won’t mind.