Caring for Your Wedding Dress: Pre-Wedding Prep

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2007

Getting your gown ready for its debut will likely involve making a few changes. For a new dress, this might mean alterations in fit; a dress purchased at a sample sale, however, might require cleaning or repairs. If you're wearing a vintage gown, the work could be more extensive, involving fabric replacement, restyling, and refitting. Regardless, allow enough time for completion: about three to six months for alterations, eight months for major restoration.

Ideally, you'll bring your dress home a day or two before the wedding. But if you must store it for longer, you'll want to take precautions. If storing it for less than six months, hang it on a padded hanger in a closet away from direct sunlight, leaving several feet of space on either side. To shield fabric from dust, cover it with a material that allows for ventilation, such as muslin or a white cotton sheet. Don't use plastic -- since it's nonporous, it can trap condensation, causing mildew and mustiness; it might also emit gases over time that cause deterioration. If you'll be storing the gown for more than six months, it's best not to hang it to avoid stressing shoulders and seams. Instead, package the dress in an acid-free cardboard box.

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