Wedding Dress Cleaning, Preservation & Restoration Blog

The Essential Guide to Short Term & Long Term Wedding Dress Storage

The Essential Guide to Short Term & Long Term Wedding Dress Storage

Proper storage of your wedding dress before and after your wedding day is essential in ensuring this precious keepsake from your most amazing day can be cherished by future generations.  Improper storage, along with not having your wedding dress professionally cleaned of the many visible and invisible stains that occur on your wedding day, are the two biggest factors in future fabric yellowing – and even worse – eventual fabric rot and decay. 

We’ve put together an essential guide to both short and long term wedding dress storage to help you be certain your dress will be perfect on your wedding day, and even enjoyed as a keepsake by your children and your children’s children.

Four Important Steps in Handling Your Wedding Dress Before Storing it

As with anything in life, proper preparation is key.  Regardless of whether you’re storing your wedding dress in the short term for an upcoming wedding, or placing it in storage for a potential wedding that may happen years in the future, it’s important you follow a few simple rules when handling your wedding gown.

Here are a few simple, but important, tips in handling your wedding dress before storing it:

  •   Wash your hands thoroughly prior to removing your dress from the garment bag that was provided with your wedding dress. Your skin naturally produces oils that can damage your dress and you do not want to transfer those oils to your gown when handling it.
  •   Consider taking a quick shower. It’s a little excessive, we know. However, any lotion, perfume, or even nail polish or makeup can damage your gown if they come in contact with your wedding dress. While you cannot see them on your skin, the molecules in lotions and makeup can cause fabric staining, so a good shower is a great start.
  •   Remove any and all jewelry.Jewelry tends to have sharp edges that can cause pulls or tears in the delicate fabrics of your wedding gown.
  •   Wear white cotton gloves. These gloves should only be worn once your hands are washed carefully, and they should not touch anything else prior to touching your wedding dress after taking it out of the garment bag.

For whatever purpose you need to remove your wedding dress from the garment bag, be sure the hem of your gown avoids touching the ground.  This part of your dress is the most commonly stained area of all wedding gowns we receive, and for good reason.

  Short Term Wedding Dress Storage – Up to 6 Months

If you’ve recently said “I do” and you’re planning for a short term engagement period, we have you, and your dress, covered.  In normal storage conditions, your wedding dress begins to yellow after 6 - 8 months, so a short engagement time will most likely leave your wedding dress looking just as brilliant on your wedding day as the day it did when you first fell in love with it at the bridal boutique.  A key factor in keeping your wedding dress looking beautiful is to handle your wedding dress as little as possible by leaving it in the original garment bag until your big day arrives. 

In the event you have to take your wedding dress out of the garment bag, say for an additional fitting, it’s best to take measures to ensure oils from your skin and sharp objects that could harm the delicate fabrics don’t come into contact with your dress.  This means using white cotton gloves when handling your dress, removing all jewelry that might cause fabric pulls, and taking care not to let your wedding dress touch the ground, which could cause staining around the hem.

  Pro Tip: If your boutique sent you home with your dress in a plastic garment bag, call them and ask if they have a cotton, breathable fabric bag to store your wedding dress in for the short term.  Plastic storage bags emit colorless, odorless fumes as they break down which can speed up fabric yellowing and leave you with a less than brilliant white wedding dress on the day of your wedding.  Don’t have a cotton storage bag available?  Machine wash a queen sized flat bedsheet and machine dry without any fabric softener.  Cut a hole in the exact center of the bedsheet and feed the head of the hanger through the hole.  Voilà! Now you have a breathable cotton storage covering for your gown that is hands-down safer for your wedding dress than plastic.

To Hang or Not to Hang Your Wedding Dress for the Short Term?

While it’s never ideal to hang your wedding dress long term, a short time hanging in your closet before your wedding day should be just fine.  Be sure the boutique provided you with a padded hanger, rather than a traditional thin plastic hanger, before hanging your wedding dress.  This will prevent sharp pleats in the shoulders of your dress and reduce overall fabric stress.  Additionally, your wedding dress will most likely have “hanging straps” built into the underarms which will take the pressure off the shoulders of your gown and place that weight onto much sturdier internal seams of your dress.

Additionally, keep in mind a long wedding dress train can contain 3 or more pounds of fabric, which can add additional stress while hanging.  If you have a long train, it is best to use an additional hanger to drape your train over and reduce the amount of stress your dress is subjected to.

Even though you wedding dress will be worn very soon, it is always ideal to store your wedding dress in a part of your home where you are comfortable living.  This eliminates attics, garages, and basements.  Remember to never store your wedding dress in an area of your home where it may be subject to direct sunlight.

Where not to store your wedding dress - EVER

  Medium Term Wedding Dress Storage – 6 Months to 1 Year

If you’re in for a longer term engagement between six months to a year, a few more precautions should be taken with your dress.

Along with all of our tips for short term wedding dress storage, storing your wedding dress for this length of time can cause your wedding dress to begin to yellow before your big day arrives.  If you know your wedding day will be a little under a year from when you purchase your dress, it may be a good idea to purchase a wedding dress storage box for your dress to protect it up until the arrival of your wedding day.

What is a Wedding Dress Storage Container?

A Wedding dress storage box is a lignin-free, acid-free cardboard storage box to keep your wedding dress clean and pristine before your wedding day.  The reason you’ll want an acid-free and lignin-free box, rather than your traditional shipping box, is that the chemicals in a traditional shipping box have a tendency to leach into the delicate fabrics of your wedding dress.  This can cause fabric scorching and ugly staining that will become more visible over the years if left untreated.

The other benefit to a wedding dress storage box is they come in many sizes to fit any style of gown.  This proper sizing allows your dress to rest comfortably in the box, avoiding fabric pleating and folds.  Most importantly, a wedding dress storage box gets your gown off the clothes hanger that came with your gown to avoid any fabric stretching that would occur when your wedding dress hangs for more than a few months.

Does Your Wedding Dress Need Cleaning After Less than One Year of Storage?

This depends on a number of factors which include how much your wedding dress was handled before your wedding day, and how brilliant your wedding dress looks to your eye after a close inspection.  For inspection, we recommend all our previous tips, such as washing your hands, wearing white cotton gloves, and removing jewelry. 

After those precautions are taken, perform a “paper towel test” on your wedding dress.  This entails placing a paper towel up to your white dress and seeing if any yellowing has occurred while in storage.  If your dress is not quite as white and brilliant as you remember, it may be time to send your wedding dress in to a professional wedding dress cleaning service before your big day arrives.

  Longer Term Wedding Dress Storage – 1 – 1 1/2 Years

When you find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to store your wedding dress for an upcoming wedding taking place in a year or more, special considerations will need to be made. Many brides in the year 2020 found themselves in this unfortunate situation due to the worldwide pandemic with weddings being postponed to the following spring in the hopes of a more safe and normal wedding celebration.

By far, the largest consideration will be the yellowing of your gown from being in storage for more than one year. Yellowing can occur in as little as 8 months of being in storage if a professional cleaning has not been performed on the gown before placing it in storage. If your gown is being placed in storage for over one year, it is imperative that you have it professionally cleaned first to remove the transfer of foreign contaminants such as oils from your skin when handling your gown, along with dirt and dust that transferred during fittings.

Having your wedding dress professionally cleaned either before storage, or a few weeks before your wedding day, will ensure your wedding dress is as pristine and vibrant as it was when you first fell in love with it at the bridal boutique.

Along with professional cleaning, the same rules apply to longer term storage as they do for medium term storage. A wedding dress storage box is preferable to hanging your dress in your closet and be sure to store your wedding dress in a breathable cloth garment bag rather than a cheap plastic dry cleaning bag.

Wrapping it All Up

Your wedding gown is an expensive purchase, probably one of the most expensive apart from your venue and catering. It is also the most important, most special, most sentimental article of clothing you’ll ever own, and storing it so that it is protected, allowed to breathe, maintain its integrity, and look just as beautiful in 100 years as it does right now is something that is hard to put a price on. The cost of preserving your wedding dress is an investment not only in your wedding dress, but also an investment in your next generation.  Browse through our cleaning and preservation kits, and know that our team is here to answer any questions you may have regarding storing your wedding dress for both the short term and long term.