Did you know that wedding dresses can stay in tip-top shape for hundreds of years? We’re not exaggerating; under the right conditions, your white gown could outlive you without sustaining any serious fabric or color damage.

Consider the following words: dry, cold, and dark. They are probably the last things you’d normally associate with wedding dresses, but by the end of this article, they might make more sense if you’re thinking about passing your bridal gown down to future generations. In short, dry, cool, and dark spots offer the ideal conditions for these heirlooms to weather the passage of time– without actually aging one day.

bridesmaid makes bow-knot on the back of brides wedding dress

It goes without saying that this high-sentimental-value purchase happens to be one of the most high-maintenance clothing items we could own, as well. This means that the journey from its post-wedding cleaning to finding the right self storage option for it is a bit more complicated than we might initially expect. But without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics and see how all of this plays out in real life.

1. Choose DIY care or ask an expert?

Perhaps you’re already back from your honeymoon, or you’re just packing your travel bags to set off on the adventure – whichever the case, it’s important to keep that recently worn special gown in the back of your mind.

Before you do anything, however, ask yourself if storing a wedding dress is something you’ve done before or if you would benefit from the advice of an expert.

With the big day already celebrated, you probably know the basics of wedding dress care. You’ve consulted the boutique or your designer several times, have seen the dress neatly covered with a clothing bag, or carefully put away in a sturdy box. Maybe you were even advised about the do’s and don’ts of ironing it at home. Still, there is a significant difference between storing a bridal gown for a few weeks/months and preserving it as a keepsake. For the latter, a bit more preparation is necessary, and this is where the following ideas come into play.

You could start by doing your own research and creating a plan accordingly. In this case, though, chances are that much of the information available online won’t consider the intricacies of your particular dress – its fabric, weight, embellishments, etc. When purchasing the dress, consult the designer or the salesperson about storing it long-term. Or, to be on the safe side, place your trust in some of the industry-leading professionals who can help you prepare it for storage.

Bride touches beads on white wedding dress.

2. Cleaning – at home or with a professional?

As mentioned earlier, such a sophisticated garment requires a lot of attention and care, and that’s true for its cleaning process, too. So, your safest bet will once again be leaving your gown in the hands of specialists – especially considering that it will be put away for a good few years. For instance, professional dry cleaners may not only remove existing stains but use products that act as insect repellents at the same time. You also won’t want to put off the cleaning process for too long; exposure to sunlight and air/oxidation can damage your dress. And if at first glance your dress seems to be in good condition, know that makeup, food, drink, and perspiration stains may show their true colors only after a while, so it’s best to prevent these too with expert help.

If you do decide to clean your dress at home, ask your sales consultant and read the care label to be better prepared. After washing it, let the dress dry completely before packing it away as a way to prevent mildew growth.

3. Hangers vs. box

Now that the dress is spotless, you might want to go ahead and hang it up in the back of your closet. However, there are some challenges here, as well. When hung for a long period of time, dresses could stretch and become misshapen, especially when made of a heavier fabric. Rips and tears could also appear from the stress on the seams, not to mention the creases that could be caused by storing it crammed with other clothes.

When it’s so close at hand, you may also feel more tempted to check on your bridal outfit every now and then, and we can’t blame you. But perhaps it’s safer to peruse the wedding album instead; you’ll certainly avoid unwanted accidents like tearing, creasing the dress, or touching it with bare hands – as the natural oils and salts from our skin can damage the delicate fabric.

Now, the situation may perhaps seem somewhat discouraging so far but bear with us. The solution is on the horizon – in fact, the solution is quite literally horizontal. Lay the dress flat in a box, but not just any cardboard box; specialists swear by the ones that have been specifically designed for archival storage and come lined with acid-free tissue paper that prevents contamination.

Luxury wedding dress in white box, beige women's shoes and bridal bouquet on bed

4. Home storage vs. self-storage

Last but not least: it’s time to find the place where your bridal attire can live happily ever after. This place automatically brings us back to the initial mention of a cool, dry, and dark location. We’ve slightly touched upon the damaging effects of sunlight and humidity before, but warmth and altering temperatures (in attics or basements, for example) can also be of great concern.

The optimal conditions include room temperature or below that and optimal humidity, just like other items that require climate-controlled storage. This, in turn, decreases the likelihood of mildew growth and condensation forming. For starters, you could consider an unused bedroom with enough space for the box to be laid flat. However, you need to make sure that the temperature and humidity in these areas are steady throughout the year. If that’s not possible to do in the areas of your home where you want to store your dress and if space is not something you can splurge on, a self storage unit is a godsend. This is especially helpful if you’re a NYC resident or an urban dweller of a different metropolis where living space is usually less generous. Even the smallest, 5’x5′ units in New York City, New York, can be large enough to house your wedding gown. Moreover, if you live in famously hot cities, such as Miami, Florida, or Phoenix, Arizona, investing in a climate-controlled storage unit could be game-changing.

All in all, there’s more to properly storing wedding gowns than we might first think. But with a bit of care, research, and expert intervention, it could benefit from the museum-quality preservation that will make it, and the gorgeous memories attached to it, defy time.


Reka is a creative writer for REACH by RentCafe, with a background in English Language & Literature and Cultural Studies. Besides being a writing enthusiast, she has a passion for reading fiction and fostering shelter dogs. You can reach her via email.

Write A Comment