Is Your Dress Being Eaten Alive?

If you’d like your wedding gown to last at least as long as your marriage; you had better not take it to the cleaners.

Right after my wedding, my mother took my dress to a reputable dry cleaner in Greenwich for cleaning and preservation. After the honeymoon, I picked up the gown and placed it in a closet, where I thought it would be safe and sound.

I am telling you this story because I am sure I am not the only person who has done this. After being in the business for some time now I have learned what the average bride hasn’t: a wedding gown needs special handling, cleaning and storage, and what you don’t know WILL hurt your gown! The big problem is that when you pick up your dress, you can’t look at it; if you open the box, you are no longer guaranteed a safe storage condition. (I call this “Cleaners’ Bluff.”)

Now here is what happened to me last week: I brought my dress to Sally Conant of Orange Restoration Labs for a check-up of the cleaning services I received, thinking, of course, that my dress would still be in perfect condition… WRONG!

Here are the problems Sally un-covered:

  • My gown was not in an acid-free box (acid burns fibers).
  • My gown was stuffed with a non-acid-free bust form.
  • My gown was still bustled, which over time will lead to extensive fabric breakdown and deterioration.
  • The corset was left inside the dress. It includes some foam rubber that will literally eat through the natural fibers.
  • A champagne stain was still clearly visible and, presumably, had never been treated.
  • Other treatable surface stains were also visible.
  • The bows on my gown were not properly stuffed.

So, much to my horror, I realized that the dress, over time, would fall into a terrible condition, and Sally said, and I agreed, that I was lucky we opened the box.

Orange Restoration Labs is the largest processor of gowns in New England. They use a process which includes handcleaning, unique anti-sugar stain treatment, acid-free storage, and a lifetime guarantee. Best of all, you are encouraged to inspect the dress in person before it is put into the box.

Sally also brings heirloom gowns back to their original condition, and has worked on a wedding gown from 1873 and a christening gown from 1822. My dress will be ready in about a month and I will definitely fill you in on it’s condition. If you have a question or concern about your gown, call Sally at 800.950.6482. I highly recommend bringing your gown to her for proper inspection.

And to everyone who is reading this and thinking, “My dress is still at my parents’ house in the closet!”… Go rescue it!

By the way, the Greenwich cleaners who handled my dress told me “If anyone asks, we tell them the box is not acid-free.” This, as I was staring at a cluttered shelf of gowns that were still waiting to be picked up!

Just because you like to bake, you do not make your own wedding cake. Just because you are a great photographer, you do not shoot your friend’s wedding. And just because your dry cleaner can handle everyday clothes, don’t trust them to handle your irreplaceable wedding gown!

Caroline Mock, a life-long Greenwich resident, is the publisher of The Wedding Book, an organizational tool for brides getting married in the area. The Wedding Book comes with tabs to keep you organized, a list of local advertisers, helpful information, grids, a pocket and business card holder as well as a calendar.

Call 800-950-6482 today for an appointment or e-mail Never a charge for consultations