Designing bridal gowns from the ground up has been my life’s work. Keeping those gowns white and spotless before the wedding has been as much a challenge as the design itself. Once delivered though, the gown is all yours, to have and to hold in a real world rampant with dust, blood and household pets—all potential accidents just waiting to happen.
PROTECTING YOUR GOWN BEFORE THE WEDDING
Getting your gown home safely is the first step. You’re going to have to treat it with all the love and care of a newborn. No, you won’t need an infant seat but just about any size back seat of a car will do. In all probability once delivered your gown will be packed in plastic. Hang it on the hook above the back door draped across the back seat. Once home, remove the dress from the bag and make sure to put it on a padded hanger. An alternative to the padded hanger is my hanging dress form below. This is a display hanger I use in the studio to show off my designs. They have another function: keeping your gown shaped and taking the stress off the shoulders or from whatever point your dress hangs. You can order one from Robert Hamm
Next find a hook. A chandelier would be great if you have one. So would hooking it to an armoire
or highboy. Cover the floor below your gown with a clean sheet and let the train fall. This will prevent wrinkles. Ideally the room you hang your gown in is low on traffic.
No spare room? Okay, find an empty closet or one with enough room to accommodate the volume of your gown. Actually, hanging your gown on a dress form that is dialed to match your own measurements would be optimal. I know, I know, you don’t sew but if you can borrow one from a friend or if you find one cheap in a thrift store, grab it.
Here’s another option for storing your dress especially if your wedding is more than three months off. Lay your gown on a spare bed or sofa and spread it out. This will ease stress caused from hanging.
YOUR WEDDING DAY
Some suggestions about pressing. If your gown is made out of tulle, don’t you dare press it! Steam it instead. The same goes for your veil; ironing scorches tulle.
Pressing wrinkles out of your gown is done with a cool, dry iron over a piece of broadcloth or muslin, called a press mitt. Forget worrying too much about wrinkling your gown going to and from the ceremony. Just push the bulk of your skirt aside once you’re in the car.
AFTER THE BALL IS OVER
Did you know Victorian brides have us beat when it comes to going green? Tradition was, they not only wore their gown to exchange vows in, a bride of yesteryear was expected to wear her gown out and about. That’s right, she wore it to the opera and dining at Delmonico’s for about a year till everyone knew her status. In other words, a bride could revel in her bridaldom
while putting some mileage on her gown. So how come we're not out there reinventing this trend?
Whether you’re preserving or consigning your gown after the wedding you’re going to need to find a cleaner that specializes in wedding gowns. Specializing means years of experience as in: just about every time you drop in to pick up your silk blouses a couple Vera Wangs are ready to move out.
Expect common wear and tear after your wedding day to be dirt and grass stains along the hem and train, makeup stains inside the bodice, a torn seam, bustle hooks missing. Oh yeah, and the proverbial splash of red wine on the skirt. After cleaning your gown should be professionally pressed even if it will be stored away in a box. Remember to ask it be packed in acid-free tissue in an acid-free box to prevent any staining. Remove any dress shields or bra cups, otherwise they’ll fragment through the years, soiling arms and bodice.