Wedding Dress Preservation
To keep your wedding dress in the best condition possible, first have it professionally cleaned followed by wedding dress preservation to:
- Prevent yellowing
- Reduce permanent creasing risks
- Reduce mildew and mold risks
- Prevent oxidation spots
- Protect from light and dust
Prevent Wedding Dress Yellowing
One of the most common reasons that wedding dress yellow is that brides often keep their dresses in plastic bridal gown bags. Most all plastics emit chemical fumes that can encourage yellowing. But, even with proper storage, some fabrics will yellow more than other fabrics. In fact it may be impossible to prevent yellowing completely. Generally, silk fabrics oxidize (yellow) more than most synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, rayon and acetate. However, even some synthetics fabrics (nylon), yellow more than other synthetic fabrics. Wedding gowns that can be wet cleaned can be safely whitened for future use if they do yellow.
- Wedding dress preservation in an acid-free, and lignin-free environment is the best protection you can give your wedding gown against yellowing.
- Wrapping, padding, and stuffing your wedding dress with acid-free tissue or cotton muslin will also help prevent acid migration.
- All preservation materials you utilize must be both acid-free and lignin-free. The acid is what encourages yellowing, so acid-free is essential. Lignin is found in all wood products, unless it has been removed. Lignin is not acidic, but releases acid as it decomposes. So an acid-free box that is not lignin free will eventually become acidic, voiding all protection for your wedding dress. Buffered acid-free/lignin-free tissue is best for wedding dresses made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and acetate. Calcium carbonate is a buffering agent added to the tissue and gives added protection against acid migration. But there is a chance that it could damage silk wedding dresses, therefore un-buffered, acid-free/lignin-free tissue or cotton muslin are recommended for silk wedding dresses.
Warranties for Wedding Dress Preservation
Many preservation companies advertise that their preservation method will prevent yellowing and even offer a warranty. Look carefully at any warranty offered by these companies. Some may sound comforting, but on closer inspection, offer little value.
One warranty offered by a leading on-line preservation company stated that they will warranty the wedding gown against yellowing for 100 years. If the gown starts to yellow they will re-preserve it at no charge. Note that they do not state that they will whiten your yellowed wedding gown. Putting your (now yellowing) wedding gown back into the same type of preservation materials that yellowed your gown to begin with is not a good solution.
Another wedding dress preservation company’s warranty simply states that the your wedding gown may be returned to a participating dealer for inspection and pressing.
Another warranty guarantees protection from damages from mildew, mold, light, insect infestation, along with yellowing and caramelized sugar stains from appearing. This may sound comprehensive, however, there is no mention about what they will do if your wedding gown does discolor, develop mold or an insect infestation.
None of these wedding dress preservation warranties state that they will replace a, yellowed wedding gown with a new one or whiten a wedding gown if it does yellow.
Your primary goal should be to keep your wedding dress in the best overall condition. So, give your wedding dress the protection it needs. Take it out of the plastic bridal bag and arrange wedding dress cleaning and preservation in an acid-free/lignin-free environment.
Permanent Creasing of Wedding Dresses
Textile conservators recommend flat storage for textiles and garments whenever possible. However, because wedding dresses are usually long, and often large, it isn’t always practical. A compromise must be made, either by hanging or folding the wedding dress. To help prevent permanent creasing from developing, boxed wedding gowns should be refolded every few years into a different position. (Cotton gloves can be worn to protect your wedding dress whenever it is handled.) Wedding dresses that are preserved in a hanging, cotton bag do not have the same risk for permanent creasing so they do not need routine maintenance.
Risks of Mold and Mildew
Store your preserved wedding gown in a dry environment(less than 60% relative humidity) to give it the best protection from mildew and mold growth. Hanging wedding gown preservation with a cotton bag has excellent air circulation which helps keep the garment dry, as long as it is stored away from moisture. Be wary of storing your gown adjacent to exterior walls where moisture sometimes seeps in. Newer homes often have vapor barriers to prevent this problem.
Oxidation Spot Prevention
Any substance not completely cleaned on a wedding dress can oxidize and turns brown over time. This is common even when a wedding dress has been cleaned because dry-cleaning solvents do not remove water based substances. Spills from clear soda or alcohol may not be noticed at the time of the cleaning. Unless these substances are pre-treated, they will oxidize and turn brown eventually. Periodically inspecting your preserved wedding dress ensures that your dress remains in the best condition. The sooner a problem is discovered, the more likely it can be fixed. This is one of the reasons that sealed wedding dress preservation is not recommended.
Dust and Light
Protect your wedding dress from damages from dust and light by keeping it covered with acid-free/lignin-free materials.
Wedding Gown Preservation Choices
There are three different types of wedding dress preservation offered currently. Each will usually fall into one of these three types:
Wedding Dress Preservation Should Be Climate Controlled
No matter which wedding dress preservation option you choose, keeping your preserved wedding gown in a climate-controlled area is critical. Do not put your preserved wedding dress in a basement, attic or garage where temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate. Fluctuating temperatures will increase the deterioration rate of all textiles including your treasured wedding dress. And again, avoid storing your garment anywhere that moisture can access it.
Museum Preservation Standard Recommendations
Remember, museum conservators recommend that you keep your wedding dress: clean, cool, dry, wrinkle free and in the dark.