Bridal Gown Preservation: A Time-Honored Tradition
Did you know that preserving the dress from one of the most important days of a woman’s life began many centuries ago?
Specifically, preserving wedding dresses became fashionable in the royal court of England during the height of opulent clothing around the turn of the 19th century. Before that time, wedding dresses may have been a less important part of the ceremony-- but when Princess Charlotte was married in 1816, her extravagant gown gown cost an estimated £ 10,000 and was described as having “beautiful layers of silvery lace and embroidery, with a splendid diamond fastening on the front.” Amazingly, this still-stunning dress can now be seen at the London Museum!
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Today, families across the world have found that a carefully-preserved dress is a wonderful way for generations to thread traditions together. Besides the importance of preserving the garment as an important memento itself, some families have developed traditions that have the same dress altered for the mother’s daughter, to be passed down through generations. Others have chosen to take elements of their mother’s wedding dress—such as a beaded bodice—and incorporate these into something more modern.
1. First, Make Sure it's clean
First thing's first for any cherished item: clean the item carefully and consider taking it to a professional to have it preserved properly for future use. At Red Hanger Cleaners, we have expertise in cleaning and preparing for storage virtually any kind of fabric heirloom you bring in!
2. honor heirlooms
Even if a mother isn’t planning to pass the dress itself down, significant emotional importance is still attached to wedding gowns; a bride’s wedding day is a beautiful milestone to be treasured by the family. So yes, there are multiple reasons why taking steps to preserve your dress properly are important!
In some families, christening dresses or other ceremonial garments may also be an important heirloom to be passed down to the next generation. Whether you’re looking to keep hand-made lace doilies from yellowing or want to preserve a special baby blanket, the same general rules apply as to a wedding dress.
3. consider environment and materials
The key to preserving such an important garment is to control for the two biggest dangers to garments: moisture and insects. At Red Hanger Cleaners in Utah, we know our customers might not place too much worry on either moisture or insects. We live in a dry climate with relatively few household pests, compared to our coastal neighbors, right? Well, the answer is not that simple. Houses can have internal moisture problems created by poor ventilation or other factors, the UV radiation from our sunny days can wreak havoc on constantly-exposed cloth, and there are unfortunately varieties of fabric-eating insects in every state!
After considering environmental dangers, the next thing that needs to be taken into consideration when planning for storage is the materials used to make the dress. Delicate details like lace, beading, and silk are particularly vulnerable to damage from the elements, mishandling, or sunlight. For example, once lace has yellowed, it can be very difficult to restore it to its original tone and must be done by a professional if it’s antique.
4. Do it yourself, or leave it to the professionals?
Finally, another difficulty new brides face when looking for do-it-yourself wedding dress preservation ideas is that it can be difficult to find an appropriately-sized bag or container, especially if the dress has a long train. Remember, if the dress has a lot of fabric or details, it must be folded or arranged very carefully to avoid damage or permanent creases. In particular, hand-beaded details or lace panels that give so many wedding dresses their unique beauty need to be preserved carefully by not misfolding.
In short, don’t put the safety of such a treasured piece of family history at stake by simply packing the dress away! Consult with professionals who are familiar with the specific needs of Utahns and have helped thousands of families preserve bridal gowns for future generations.
Besides being able to carefully and thoroughly clean delicate wedding dresses, we will work with you using the latest technology to carefully preserve this incredibly important garment so that it is available for future generations or just a trip down memory lane. We will employ measures to preserve the beauty of the dress by carefully folding and sealing your dress against the elements, with desiccant (moisture-absorbing) packets if needed.
As a final note: Even if you do choose to pursue do-it-yourself bridal dress preservation, we all know that dry-cleaning garments before storing them is always a smart move, and highly recommend that at the very least you consider dry cleaning important, expensive items like wedding dresses and suits before placing them into storage. To learn more about storing garments or the other services we offer, please contact us today and we’d be happy to help.
June Special: 20% off Cleaning and preservation services!
Celebrate this special season and preserve your memories for future generations.