How many times have you heard of a mother or grandmother passing her wedding gown down to a daughter or granddaughter? Keeping your wedding gown as a family heirloom that can be passed from generation to generation is a very common practice but to do so, the gown will need to be kept properly to ensure it does not yellow or deteriorate.
The most important thing to remember when keeping a wedding dress is that it must be preserved properly. If you plan to save your gown for future use, you do not want to overlook the iportance of taking the right steps. Too often, a bride will become tired and busy, hanging the gown up thinking that any day, she will preserve the gown. Then, by the time she makes the time, the gown is already affected.
The first step to preservation is to have the wedding gown professionally cleaned. Even if it was only worn for one hour, there are fragrances, soils, and perspiration that may not show now but will if stored without cleaning. If not cleaned, all of these factors will cause the gown to yellow and will weaken the fabric over time. If you find you have too many things going on to handle this on your own, you can always ask a close family member or friend if they would take your gown after the wedding and have it cleaned by a professional that specializes in wedding gowns.
After the dress is cleaned, you will then need to store it properly. Many cleaners specialize in wedding gown preservation and can help you with this next step. They will wrap the gown in a special type of tissue paper that is acid free. Then using an acid-free box, they will store it to ensure the aging process is halted. Once the gown has been wrapped and packed, make sure you never store it in the attic, basement, garage, drawer, or trunk. Instead, you want the boxed gown to be stored within the home where temperatures remain consistent not too cold and not too hot.
A very important thing to remember is that some cleaners will advise that the boxed dress never be opened of the preservation warranty offered will be void. If you hear this, then you need to look for another cleaner. In truth, the box should be opened once a year. To remember this, you can make this a ritual done on your annual anniversary. After opening the box, remove the gown, carefully unfold it, and then refold it neatly but differently so the creases are different. Next, rewrap it in acid-free tissue paper and replace it in the box. Keep in mind that as the years pass, the tissue paper and box may need to be replaced.
Even if your gown is something you are not sure your daughter would like, remember that wedding gown designers have the skill to take an out-of-style gown and modify it to fit a future generation. By updating some of the fabric, creating new lines, and changing the embellishments, a new gown can be made from your gown. Additionally, an heirloom-wedding gown can serve many other functions as well. For example, the material could be preserved and then one day used to make a childs christening gown, a senior prom gown could be made, or even a family quilt could be designed using the fabric.