The Top 10 Things You Need to Know for Proper Wedding Dress Preservation
Now that you are about to tie the knot or have tied the knot, you should give some thought, time, and attention to your wedding dress. I am not talking about picking out and buying the dress. You should have already done this. Instead, your focus should be on what you would be doing with your wedding dress. Do you plan to keep it for posterity? Or do you plan to give it to charity or otherwise dispose of it?
These are not small questions because a wedding dress can be one of the most important heirlooms a mother can give her daughter. Even if you are not thinking of passing on your dress to the next generation, hanging on to your dress might be a crucial memento of one of the most important days in your life. If you are thinking of storing your wedding dress, you have to understand that it won’t remain in great shape as is. It won’t simply preserve itself. You have to be proactive in storing your wedding dress or you might end up with a tattered, faded, or raggedy cloth construction that will make you wonder why you hung on to it.
Keep the following considerations in mind if you’re thinking of hanging on to your dress for decades. You might be surprised at the amount of deliberation you’ll need to make the right decision. By being so systematic and methodical about your decision, you’ll definitely go a longer way in ensuring that you have truly made an informed decision.
Be Clear as to why you’d like to Preserve your Wedding Dress
At this stage, the idea of hanging on to your dress for ‘posterity’ is very romantic and striking. That’s all well and good but you have to go deeper in your analysis of your reasons for wanting to hang on to your wedding dress than just simply responding with a ‘just because’ or ‘for posterity.’ Be clear as to why you want to hang on to it. The clearer your reason, the better. Why? You’ll be spending quite a bit of time, effort, and money on this undertaking and you want to lay your reasons out clearly. This way, you can see if they are worthy of all the resources you’ll be pouring into your little preservation project.
You’d be surprised as to how many people change their minds about wedding dress preservation once they have a clear understanding of their reasons. Many quickly conclude that their reasons aren’t worth the time, bother, expense, and hassle of wedding dress preservation.
Be Clear as to how Long you want to Preserve your Dress
You might think that you want to preserve your dress ‘forever’ at this point. However, if you actually drill down to the specific events where you’d hand over your dress to your daughter or to someone else, you might discover that the timing is not actually ‘forever.’ Remember, ‘forever’ means infinity-as in your grand daughter’s great grand daughter’s great grand daughter.
Make sure you have a clear idea of the precise time frame you have in mind for your preservation efforts because this can significantly impact the money, time, and attention you’ll pay to the preservation of your very special dress.
Decide whether you just want to Preserve the Dress or Ensure that it is still Wearable
Another key question you need to consider is whether you actually want to preserve the wearability of the dress or just preserve it enough to ensure it doesn’t fall apart when someone handles it. These are two totally different situations with two totally different sets of costs, effort, and attention requirements. If you want your daughter or grand daughter or anyone else in the distant future to wear your wedding dress, you will need to spend a different sum of money to ensure this happens.
Make Sure your Wedding Dress is Made up of Easier to Preserve Materials
Ideally, the best time to think about wedding dress preservation is the time before you’ve made a decision on your dress. In other words, the best situation would be for you to focus on wedding dress preservation as you select your wedding dress. This is ideal because you can pick out your dress based on how well its material will stand up to the test of time.
If you have already picked out your dress and are just now thinking of preserving it, this will pose more of a challenge-especially if you picked out a dress made of a highly degradable material which was cut in a way that it is exposed to the elements. Still, all is not lost because you can compensate for your materials’ sensitivity to the elements with the right storage system, precaution, methods, and processes.
Use the Right Packaging to Store your Wedding Dress
You might think that a simple plastic sleeve is enough to protect your wedding dress. Wrong. You don’t want to find out the hard way that your moth- or bug-damaged dress needed additional precautions beside simple plastic sheeting or zipped up plastic enclosures. You should ask the wedding shop you got your dress from regarding special packaging you can buy to ensure that your wedding dress is adequately protected from excess moisture, bug threats, chemical exposure, certain chemical reactions, light exposure, and other hazards.
Make Sure of the Space Requirements of Proper Wedding Dress Preservation
If you are going to preserving your dress, make sure you have the space to do it. Depending on the design of your wedding dress, you might need quite a bit of space. Some designs can be very bulky and need a lot of space. Make sure there’s a snug fit so you can economize your space while at the same time keeping free air space at a minimum.
Alternatively, if you have a very big dress and you are storing it hanging up, make sure you have enough space to walk around the dress. This impacts space availability. Also, this might make the storage process more expensive because you have to use up certain space for storage instead of other purposes. In some cases, this might involve shelling out some serious dollars for a special storage area to be built for your wedding dress.
Decide on Any Special Equipment you Need to Store your Wedding Dress
Whenever you are storing a dress or any piece of clothing, you are up against many different factors. These factors can work together or alone to ensure that you end up with a piece of patched material that falls apart, looks tattered or unwearable. You have to have storage equipment that can guard against the ravages the following threats bring to your dress:
- Bugs – While moths are the most common type of bugs that damage cloth materials, there is actually a wide range of insects that can cause holes or discolorations to your stored clothing.
- Light – Any exposure to the light is bound to have an impact on your dress’ materials. Sure, you might not see the effect right away but even if your clothing doesn’t discolor very quickly, it might change colors later or it might get brittle. Prolonged exposure to light triggers or speeds up certain chemical processes which can end up discoloring or outright damaging your clothing.
- Moisture – Depending on the materials that make up your dress, prolonged moisture exposure can be very bad news indeed. Indeed, even ‘synthetic’ materials might become fertile surfaces for mold or fungus that are constantly exposed to a source of moisture. Not only might fungal damage leave nasty-looking splotches, blotches, and stains on your clothes but decaying fungus might give your clothing a ‘funky’ smell. If you’re truly unlucky, your dress might even host the smelliest fungi which gives off a very bad smell.
- Chemical reaction – There are many brides who store their dresses in a paper lining with an outer sleeve made of plastic. The paper is supposed to help with keeping the moisture levels in the space right next to your wedding dress under control. Well, if you pick the wrong kind of paper, it might have acids or other chemical compounds that might react badly with your wedding dress. End result? Heavily discolored or brittle clothing material.
- Air exposure – Depending on the quality of the air in your area, air exposure might lead to bad chemical reactions or worse moisture transport. Both situations can lead to a brittle, damaged, or discolored wedding dress.
Pick the Right Location to Store your Dress
Since there are so many factors that might age your dress prematurely, you need to make sure your dress is stored in the right location. Not all locations make for ideal dress storage locations. At the very least, look for a part of your home that isn’t exposed to lots of direct sunlight. It’s also a good idea to find a dark, dry, and cool place. Of course, such a spot must not be near any known hives or routes of insects-both the walking and flying varieties.
Your location choice is not a simple matter because if you choose to store your dress in such a location, you have to move your interior spaces around. This takes some level of organization. You might even have to spend a few bucks getting specialized shelving or shelf organization tools or accessories.
Understand the Conditions that Might Require you to Move your Dress
It is too easy to think that once you’ve decided to hang on to your wedding dress, that you’ll be stay in the same spot forever. Well, you’re welcome to think this way but this is hardly the situation with most Americans. The typical American household actually moves at least a couple of times over several decades. In fact, your young family might be moving several times as either you or your spouse gets promoted or need to move from one part of the country to the other in search of better job opportunities.
If you have decided to hang on to your dress, this series of moves might negatively impact your storage options. Why? Your dress might get damaged while being transported. Also, you might take a lot of care during the first couple of moves but as your family grows, you might have your hands full with kids or your kids’ needs that you might completely overlook the special conditions required by your wedding dress.
Finally, the special storage requirement or special storage conditions required by your dress-including adequate storage space-might vary with each new home you move in to. This might cause problems down the road because any moisture or bug exposure at one point might be hard to detect during the hustle and bustle of moving from Point A to Point B. It would not be surprising for you to discover damage to your dress after a few moves.
Be Clear as to Alternative Storage Locations
Since there are so many factors to keep in mind when storing your wedding dress, it might be a better idea to find alternative storage areas or options for your dress. Of course, these cost money. Also, they might not even be available to you as your growing family moves from area to area. You might want to list out the realistic number of options you have as far as alternative storage locations are concerned. By writing down your list, you might realize just how many options are available and which ones are really practical. The answer might startle you.
By using a systematic and methodical way of deciding whether to keep your wedding dress or not, you will go a long way in protecting yourself from any unnecessary costs, headaches, and hassles down the road. In many cases, an idea that seems so attractive and emotionally engaging right now might actually not make much practical sense when you factor in the logistics and practical considerations of actually acting on your idea. As long as you are honest about your options and you allow yourself to be open minded to the facts and contingencies, you’ll go a long way in making the right decision.