Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation

No yellowing or fabric deterioration here

wedding-dress-preservation: a wedding dress folded in a box.
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Searches for ‘wedding gown preservation’ have gone up by 135 percent on Pinterest, according to the Pinterest x Zola 2023 Wedding Trends Report—and if you have recently tied the knot or plan to in the near future, you might be among the growing number of people who want to learn more about the service. Good news: We got the full scoop on wedding dress cleaning and preservation, including details on cost, timing and storage, so you can make an informed decision about the future of your dress.

Meet the Experts

  • Marianna D’Alessandro is the Director of Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation at American Wedding Gown Specialists, a specialty dry cleaning and preservation business that belongs to the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists—an organization that provides training and knowledge on the subject of wedding gown preservation in partnership with the American Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Objects, the Textile Society of America and the Association of Bridal Consultants. D’Alessandro has more than five years of professional experience working with wedding gowns and the brides who own them, and is dedicated to preserving not just the dresses, but also the memories and emotions they represent through her skilled work.
  • Ola Ogunye is the Specialist and General Manager at Bridgestone Cleaners, an eco-friendly cleaning service in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn that belongs to the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists and won the Knot’s Best of Wedding awards for exceptional wedding dress cleaning and preservation. Ogunye has 40 years of experience in providing exceptional garment care and is passionate about his work to this day.
what is wedding dress preservation
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What Is Wedding Dress Preservation? And How Does It Work?

“Wedding gown preservation is a specialized process designed to clean, treat, and store a wedding dress to maintain its original beauty over an extended period,” explains D’Alessandro, adding that “the goal is to prevent yellowing, discoloration, and fabric deterioration, thus allowing brides to cherish and potentially pass down their gowns as heirlooms.” Per the experts, this involves thoroughly cleaning the dress, carefully inspecting it for stains and damages, and packaging it in a museum-quality preservation chest with acid-free tissue paper to protect it from environmental factors. “The preservation process takes about two weeks and brides must ensure it is stored properly in order to avoid any environmental damage,” says Ogunye. (But more on storage requirements later.)

wedding dress preservation vs dry cleaning
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Wedding Dress Preservation vs. Dry Cleaning: What’s the Difference?

There are many factors that distinguish a wedding gown specialist from a dry cleaner. While both wedding gown preservation and dry cleaning involve cleaning garments, they serve different purposes. “Dry cleaning is a more general cleaning process, primarily focused on removing visible stains and dirt. A wedding gown preservation specialist, on the other hand, is more comprehensive, specializing in treatment aimed at preventing long-term damage and preserving the dress to its original condition for lasting memories,” says D’Alessandro.

All wedding gowns must be cleaned before they’re preserved, and if you’re wondering whether or not the cleaning alone is sufficient, Ogunye has some advice: “If you're planning on wearing your wedding dress in near-ish future (say for a second celebration or a vow renewal on your one-year anniversary) a simple cleaning is recommended for the time being. However, if you're hoping to have your gown's beauty last long-term so it can be passed down to a loved one, [the full preservation package] is the way to go.”

what brides should know about wedding dress preservation
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What Brides Should Know About Wedding Dress Preservation

When to Preserve

Provided you’re not planning on wearing the dress again anytime soon, both experts tell us that it's wise to initiate the preservation process as soon as possible after the wedding. Per Ogunye, it’s a near certainty that there are some stains or contaminants on your dress after the celebration and D’Alessandro emphasizes that the longer those linger, the harder they are to remove. Still, D’Alessandro notes that it’s worth reaching out to a specialist even after an extended period of time. “As wedding gown specialists we have worked with gowns that are decades old and have had wonderful results,” she says. In other words, if a precious heirloom has come into your possession, it’s never too late to treat it right.

What It Costs

Wondering how much it will cost you to preserve your wedding gown for posterity? According to D’Alessandro, “the cost of wedding gown preservation can vary based on factors such as the gown's material, complexity, and the provider you choose, [but that] brides can expect to pay between $400 and $900 for professional preservation services, on average.” So yes, it’s an investment—and one that might make you flinch after having shelled out for a fancy dress and the wedding itself—but if you want that beautiful gown to last for years to come, preservation is well worth the cost.

Storage Tips

Both experts agree that, once preserved, the dress should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place where temperature and humidity levels are relatively stable (i.e., under the bed or on a closet shelf is good, an attic or basement not so much). Additionally, D’Alessandro recommends that the preservation box be kept flat, and only covered by cloth if you like…[but never wrapped] in plastic, as the dress needs to breathe.

So can you take a peak whenever you want to walk down memory lane? D’Alessandro recommends that the dress only be unwrapped by a professional if it needs to be inspected or handled. “As part of our guarantee, when you or someone else would like to wear the gown again, we, or anyone in our association, will take the dress out of the preservation chest and press it at no additional cost,” she says. Ogunye, however, tells us that brides are welcome to remove the dress from the chest whenever they wish in order to avoid a permanent crease—but we’re guessing you don’t want to go too crazy with that, lest you undo the costly preservation work. Either way, your best bet is to consult the professional who provided the preservation services before you revisit your dress.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...