Wedding Dress Preservation – Is it worth it?

Gown taken off before wedding dress preservation

So I had a blast at my wedding. Now when the party’s over, I look at my wedding gown asking myself the question “what do I do with my wedding dress now?” Well, the first thing, which comes to my mind is – “I should keep it of course. I should have it cleaned and preserved and hand it down to my daughter”. According to a bridal magazine I read, keeping your dress retains your memory about the most beautiful day – the day when you got to marry your best friend and soulmate. But is that my belief, or is it something that the wedding industry wants me to think?  Let me take a closer look at the pros and cons of wedding dress preservation and see where I go with it.

Should I save the dress for my daughter so she can use at her wedding?

Well, fashion changes, and what’s in now will be passé next year. When I looked at my mom’s puffy gown, all I could think is – “Thank God she didn’t save the dress for me.” People might claim that I can always redo it, make it more modern but the truth is – I wanted my own dress. I wanted to have the experience of trying on gowns and finally saying “yes” to “the one.” I wonder if this belief was pushed on me by the wedding industry as well? The wedding dress hunt isn’t actually as glamorous as they make it look in the movies, but that was a lesson I had to learn myself. I don’t want to take away this experience from my daughter (everyone is different, she might enjoy it). My girl should be wearing her dress on her big day, not mine.

The gown has a sentimental value

“Preserve your memory” you can read on almost every slogan advertising preservation companies. But what does it preserve? The stress of the wedding preparation? The countless hours of a nervous hunt for a dress and the drama with the wedding dress alteration? As I mentioned before- it looks better in the movies than in real life. Also, I came across the statement that your wedding dress is probably the piece of clothing that you looked the best in within your life – little sad, isn’t it? Your whole life versus one night. I don’t really want to feel that I’m going downhill from now. Why would I hold on to something only because I looked so good in it, even though I won’t get to wear it again? To look and feel fabulous every day of my life – that’s my goal. Besides that, I can only imagine my irritation if I tried my dress in a few years and it wouldn’t fit. Let’s face it. We gain weight with age. We have babies, work, family to take care of. Will I have time to visit the gym every day like I did before my wedding? Probably not. And we all know many of us starve ourselves before the big day. We know it’s not healthy, but we do it anyway to fit into that dress. I could do it for the week before the wedding, but never again. So why hold on to something to remind me of my “glory days.”

Another idea is to preserve and frame your dress. Apparently, it got very popular after the show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Well for me, it looks a little cheesy and creepy at the same time… I don’t have the money (so expensive!!) or space for it. But even if I did,  I wouldn’t want to anyway. It looks like a museum exhibit from a horror movie to me. But again, everyone is different, and I respect it.

When does it make sense to clean/preserve your wedding dress?

Let’s taIk positives and see some cases when wedding dress preservation does actually makes sense.

Maybe you want to have a renewal of your vows and wish to look the same, or even better than at your wedding day. I went to my friend’s 5th-year-anniversary party. It was at the same place as their original wedding, and they both wore the same attire. I have to admit; it was very touching and romantic.

Maybe it just means a lot to you and you really want to pass on the heirloom to your daughter. My friend’s mom died when she was just a kid and she doesn’t have any physical possession that belonged to her. She wished she had at least something small for her to hold on to. That’s why she plans to preserve her wedding gown, to leave something to her daughter.

Maybe your dress is expensive, and you don’t plan on holding on to it, but you would like to try to resell it on one of the many preowned wedding dress websites, or even locally on craigslist. Cleaning it ahead of time might make it more attractive to potential buyers. I could imagine many bride’s wouldn’t want to take the risk of buying an uncleaned dress since it could have stains that won’t come out or get destroyed while cleaning. On the other hand, you run the risk of destroying yourself while cleaning and then not having the ability to resell. I would probably first try to sell it as is because there is always the chance no one buys it.

How much does wedding dress preservation cost?

We are a money saving focused blog, so I couldn’t resist looking at this aspect of wedding dress preservation as well. The average wedding dress preservation cost varies anywhere from $200 to $1000 or more. The prices vary wildly, depending on the character of the material, stains and dress elaborations.

Why is it so expensive? The preservationists explain that it involves many complicated steps and that because of the delicate matter of the dress, every step requires meticulous attention. The first phase of the preservation is always cleaning, followed by packaging the dress in an acid-free box to protect it from oxidation, yellowing, and other dangers.
When taking into consideration the price you already paid for your gown (on average $1300), it adds up to a pretty substantial amount of money. Quite expensive souvenir. Isn’t it?

How to save money on your wedding dress preservation?

If you thought it through and decided you can’t let go of that bridal gown, there are still ways to save money on preservation. Instead of using a preservation company, simply have the dress cleaned by a good reputable dry cleaner. Make sure that the cleaners have experience working on wedding dresses. Look at reviews of the place, read up a little about the process itself so that you can ask educated questions and make a decision based on their answers. Then, purchase a ph neutral box and tissues and pack the dress yourself. Also, if your dress isn’t made of silk, you can try washing it yourself. Apparently, this is what many cleaning places do, it’s called wet cleaning and can save you a ton of money if you decide to do it yourself (always check the material your dress is made of and carrying instructions on the tag). The instruction of how to clean your dress yourself is

Also, if your dress isn’t made of silk, you can try washing it yourself. Apparently, this is what many cleaning places do, it’s called wet cleaning and can save you a ton of money if you decide to do it yourself (always check the material your dress is made of and carrying instructions on the tag). Here are some instructions on how to clean your dress yourself.

You can also try to use one of the wedding dress preservation kits. The cost of these varies from $100 to $200. They seem very convenient, all you have to do is send the dress away in a prepaid box. The cleaning and preserving usually take 4-6 weeks. After that, you receive your preserved dress in a ready to store box (another no-no for me – try to fit in another box in a little New York apartment). I don’t have personal experience using them, but if any of my readers do, please share it in the comments.

My final thoughts on that special gown

So does it make sense for me to preserve my wedding dress? I don’t think so. Is it because I am not sentimental about my wedding day? Not at all. I’m very grateful for this day. Honestly, I find myself looking at my wedding pictures and video at least once every couple months or even more often. (I think the preservation of the photos and video might actually be more important to me… Computers crash, and hard drives die) I still remember the joy and happiness when I said “I do” to the man of my life. I’m just not that attached to my dress I guess. It’s only a piece of material for me. One of many. I will let you girls know what I will do with the dress. For now, I know for sure – I won’t preserve it. What do you girls think about it? Will you preserve your dress? Will you sell yours? Anyone have an experience they would like to share?

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