From bride-to-be to newlywed, it probably feels strange to think that your big day has come and gone. But before you kick back and relax into married life, there’s one more thing to take care of: your dress.

If you’re hoping to keep your dress for years to come, either as memorabilia or to pass down to your daughter, it’s important that you know how to clean and preserve it properly. Designer wedding dresses, in particular, should be properly stored to preserve the intricate details and delicate fabric.

So here’s everything you need to know about how to store your wedding dress after the big day.

Get Your Wedding Dress Professionally Cleaned

Your wedding dress will definitely have gotten a little dirty during the ceremony — almost every bride stains her dress. Perhaps you spilt a drop of champagne (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), or maybe the train of your dress swept the floor as you walked down the aisle. Even if you can’t see any stains, dirt isn’t always visible to the human eye. In fact stains (especially from alcohol) darken over time.

So before you pack your dress away, you’ll need to have it professionally cleaned. Unfortunately, wedding dresses are much too delicate for washing machine cycles — they need to be cleaned gently and with the right solution.

Find a professional who’s used to cleaning wedding dresses of different fabrics. They will be able to clean your dress to the highest standard, which will make your preservation efforts much more effective.

Store Your Dress in a Dark and Dry Place

It can be tempting to leave your wedding gown hanging in plain sight, just so that you can admire it every time you walk past. But both natural and artificial light can cause fabric damage and yellowing, so it’s best to store it in a dark area.

Your dress also needs to dry. You should steer clear of basements and attics. These rooms often experience changes in temperature and high levels of humidity, which can cause discolouring.

The best place to store your wedding dress is under the bed in a wedding dress preservation box, or in a dry closet in a garment bag. Don’t store your dress in a dry cleaning plastic bag, as the plastic can damage the fabric. A purpose-made garment bag will protect it from light, dust and any other contaminants.

Decide on a Preservation Method

There are two main options when it comes to wedding dress preservation. You can try to preserve your dress yourself or you can opt for professional preservation. We’d recommend going to a professional if you want your dress to last a lifetime.

Professionals make sure the fabric maintains its colour and shape and will pack it in a way that will prevent dirt and creases while the dress is in storage. If you go for professional preservation, there are three approaches they might take:

Sealing

Once the dress has been cleaned, steamed and pressed, it is placed in a box. The box will then be vacuum-sealed, protecting it even from the oxygen in the air. With this method, your dress almost certainly won’t experience any discolouring. However, it also means you won’t be able to access your dress unless you want to break the seal.

Boxing

Much like the sealing method, your dress will be placed in a box after being folded in a way that won’t cause permanent creases. Rather than vacuum-sealing the box shut, preservationists will wrap the dress in white acid-free tissue paper to protect it from dust and dirt.

By storing your dress like this, the fabric will still be able to breathe, and you’ll be able to access it anytime you like. In fact, you’re encouraged to check on your dress every few years. You should check that it’s still safe from contaminants and refold it back into the box.

Bagging and Hanging

This wedding dress preservation method involves leaving your dress unfolded. It’s hung on a padded hanger in a cotton garment bag. Professional preservationists will also use twill tape to reinforce the dress, which prevents the weight of the dress from stretching the fabric around the shoulders.

By bagging your wedding dress, you don’t have to worry about refolding it and you can easily check on it anytime.

Use White Cotton Gloves When Handling Your Dress

If you do decide to get your wedding dress out, whether to have a look or to show it off, you should use white cotton gloves. The natural oils on your fingertips and any moisturisers you might have used can stain the dress, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Belle Bridal is here to help you with your wedding dress queries, from helping you find the perfect dress for the best price to offering wedding dress care tips. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your wedding dress questions.