A wedding gown is more than just a memento of the happiest day of your life, it represents a lot more. Ask any bride and she will tell you that the outfit is a reminder of months of planning and search for the perfect dress. And, the joy, excitement, and anticipation of a wonderful life with the most special man in her life. So, it’s understandable that you’ll want to take the best of care of this token of new beginnings. The first step you must take right after placing the order for the dress is to begin planning for its care with the right wedding dress preservation company. A good place to begin would be by asking for recommendations at the boutique or designer who creates the gown for you. But before you finalize your choice, ask the right questions to ensure that the company is well-equipped to handle that fragile future heirloom piece.
Do You Specialize in Wedding Dress Preservation?
Entrust your gown only to cleaning services that specialize in the care and preservation of wedding dresses. Most dry-cleaning services do not have the right solvents and processes to manage delicate fabrics and embellishments as this article on Brides reveals. So, ask questions about the solvents and chemicals they use and if they treat the stains and dirt by hand. You may also want to check if they’ll remove the trims before cleaning the dress and resew them afterward. Above all, talk about needing preservation processes to maintain the beauty of the gown for a good long while.
What are the Solvents and Processes You Use?
Cleaning companies may use petroleum-based solvents or perchloroethylene (PERC) to remove stains. Know that the former may be less effective, but are gentle on fragile fabrics and lend a lovely gloss. PERC is known for being harsh which is why if the service talks about using the chemical, look for other options. In recent times, a new eco-friendly solvent, the SYSTEMK4 has been introduced, so you may want to ask about using that.
Can You Give Me an Estimate?
If the wedding dress preservation company is willing to give you a ballpark figure over the phone or without taking the time to examine the gown, that’s a red flag. Experienced services will want to get a clear view of the extent and type of staining before they quote a price. In any case, expect that you may have to spend anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for a complete package. While the company may offer you convenient options like shipping the dress for cleaning, they’ll get in touch with you before starting work and give you updates from time to time.
Do You Conduct the Cleaning Onsite?
Like this feature on The Knot explains, some services take care of the cleaning and preservation in-house at their facility while others may send it to offsite locations. Even if the company outsources wedding dress preservation, that is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re doubtful, check the reviews of past customers on platforms like Google and Yelp and then make your decision. You can also ask for contact details so you can make some calls. Here are some examples of reviews on Yelp that are quite helpful.
Do You Offer Insurance on the Gown?
Given that you’re entrusting expensive couture to the cleaning company, it is reasonable to expect some kind of insurance in case there is a mishap during the shipping and preservation. If the service does not offer insurance, see it as an indication that they’re not willing to stand by their equipment and processes. You may also want to ask about the sum they’re willing to cover, and whether it includes the cost of the dress or only the cleaning. Being asked to sign a disclaimer waiving responsibility for any damage during the processes is a good hint that you should take the dress elsewhere. Here’s another thought. The preservers should offer a warranty for the lifespan of the dress. If the warranty becomes void when you open the box to examine the gown, it’s time to look for a better wedding dress preservation company.
What are the Packaging Materials You’ll Use?
To protect the delicate fabrics of the dress, it is very essential that the cleaners use acid-free, white tissue for packing so that the chemicals and colorants don’t leach into the material. In place of tissue, pre-washed soft muslin is also ideal for storage. In addition to padding to maintain the shape and integrity of the dress, you’ll need the dress to be stored in a flat position. Laying the gown in a horizontal box will ensure that it does not sag and tear under its own weight. Check with the preservation company for the kind of box they’ll provide. Basic plastic boxes are actually the wrong kind because they seal in moisture that can lead to the formation of mold and mildew over time. So, look for a company that offers you boxes that won’t crush under pressure and can repel the effects of dampness while allowing the fabric to breathe. If you would prefer that the box has a viewing window, make sure it is made of acetate like the folks on The Spruce advise.
Will You Seal the Preservation Box?
In an effort to protect the dress from environmental factors, some companies offer to vacuum out the oxygen and moisture and seal the box with nitrogen. This process can also help keep out insects and other bugs that can damage the dress. You may also want to ask about storing the accessories. As a rule, sashes, veils, gloves, purse, shoes, garters, and any other items should be cleaned and packed separately where they cannot come in contact with the dress. In case the embellishments include metal buttons or hooks, it is best to remove them so that they don’t tarnish the fabric.
Given the monetary and sentimental value of your wedding dress, make sure you ask the right questions before entrusting its care to the right preservation company. Taking the time to make your choice could affect the gown’s condition and integrity over time, so check around with friends and family before you finalize its care and cleaning.