Practical tips

Some flowers have strong-colored stamens that can stain clothes. If you choose such a flower, have the stamen removed if possible. Talk to your florist about possible flower stains.

Consider using dress shields to protect your dress if you find excitement causes you to perspire more or if you plan an outdoor wedding.

Wine or champagne spills should be treated immediately by putting a dry towel under the fabric and blotting the top with a damp cloth wrung out in a solution of white vinegar if available, or detergent and water, to reduce the chance of a ring forming. It is important to remove all sugar residue, as sugar caramelizes over a long period of time, causing permanent brown spots.

If you pack your gown for storage, be sure to line the container with a clean, washed (no bleach) sheet or fabric. Most cardboard and wooden boxes contain acid which will destroy the fabric in time. Acid free, museum quality boxes should be used if not lined. Pins and metal buttons can oxidize and stain the dress. Removing buttons, hooks and snaps is a good idea if preparing for long term storage. If your dress is likely to be used several times over the next few years, this is not necessary. Using acid-free tissue, stuff the sleeves and other rounded areas. Fold the dress as little as possible and re-fold every few years to change crease lines. An alternative to boxing is to sew string or ribbon to the waistline of dress and tie the ribbons around the neck of a padded coat hanger so the skirt carries the weight of the dress. Wrap in a clean, washed white sheet (again, no bleach) and store in a closet or other cool, dry area. Attics and basements are not good storage places due to temperature fluctuations. Remove the veil from the headpiece if possible and store folded. Protect headpiece with lots of acid-free tissue.

For professional help, see our chapter on
Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation.

If you want to wear your mother’s (or grandmother’s) dress, then by all means do so. Stains can be covered, buttons replaced, and alterations made. If you really don’t like the style or it just cannot be made to fit, but you feel sentimental about using your mother’s dress, then consider using part of it if she agrees. Use the skirt and train and add a new bodice, or use the lace on a new dress. If there are other sisters, be sure not to change the dress drastically if they plan to use it as is.

Wedding dresses should be pressed with dry irons, not steamed unless professionally done.

In order to cut costs, have an afternoon wedding. The food served need not be as elaborate as is generally expected at an evening wedding. Decorations can be simpler also.

Remember that around Easter, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day it may be extremely difficult to find florists willing to commit, so plan early.

Christmas is a good time for a wedding in order to cut costs for decorations, but remember to check well in advance for availability as churches are very busy during this season.