By Molly Hammond, Storage.com
So you’ve walked down the aisle and danced the night away at your Pinterest-perfect wedding—congratulations! But between the gifts you and your sweetheart received and trying to fit two apartment’s worth of stuff into one home, where will you store your dress?
A wedding dress is one of the most sentimental purchases a woman makes in her life, so shoving it into the back of a closet simply won’t do. Luckily, a self storage unit is the ideal place for wedding dress storage. Whether you need to keep your dress pristine for a vow renewal, pass it on to a sister or daughter, or simply have a reminder of your special day, following these simple steps will allow you to store your gown in great shape.
Keeping Your Dress White
Get your dress cleaned before you put it in a storage unit. Check the label for instructions on how to best clean your gown. Some gowns require dry cleaning while others need to be hand-washed. In either case, a professional cleaner with experience cleaning wedding dresses will be your best bet for preventing sneaky stains from showing up down the line.
As soon as you put it into storage, make sure it’s kept off the ground as well. If it comes into contact with dirt, dust, or any other type of grime, your dress won’t stay white for long.
Box It or Bag It?
While storing your wedding dress in a self storage unit is a great option, the last thing you want to do is just put the dress into storage without proper packaging. Over time, storage units collect dust, which can damage a wedding dress in the long run. With this in mind, you can use a box or a bag to make sure that your dress is safely stored away.
Boxing a wedding dress is the preferred form of storage, as it lets the gown lie flat and uses acid-free tissue paper in the folds of the dress to prevent decay. Brides may choose to box their gowns at home or have them boxed professionally. In either case, a boxed gown should be removed and refolded about once a year to prevent creases from forming.
“Many new brides have found using a wardrobe box to hang the dress in will preserve its shape,” says Eddie Johnson, field operations manager of Move It Management LLC and MoveItStorage.com. “Additional room in the box can be used for the veil, shoes, and other keepsakes from the special day.”
If you prefer not to box your dress, the dress can be bagged and hung. However, plastic bags should never be used for long-term storage, even if that’s the kind of bag your dress came home in. Over time, chemicals from plastic dress bags can leech out and discolor the fabric of your gown. Instead, go with a cotton garment bag with a well-padded hanger.
As Johnson explains, a quality garment bag will “keep most dust and dirt from getting to the fabric.” If your dress features hanging loops in addition to any straps or sleeves, hang the dress by these loops. The padded hanger will also prevent strain on the bodice.
The major benefit of bagging and hanging is that it doesn’t require a yearly maintenance visit, which is much more convenient since the point of storing your wedding dress is that you don’t have to deal with it until you need it again. Consider storing a clothing rack or set of shelves in your storage unit so that your dress isn’t stacked in a corner or draped over furniture, where it can get knocked on the ground or crushed by other items.
The most important thing to remember when preparing your dress for storage, however, is that, if it’s done improperly, your dress can and will be ruined.
Grace Buchele Mineta, author of the blog How I Became Texan, shared the story of her mother’s badly-preserved gown (which she planned to wear at her own wedding) and the emotional and practical trouble it caused. Now happily married, Mineta suggests brides do their homework before handing over their wedding dress to someone else for preservation.
“It is important to do plenty of research on the company because when given the chance to make an extra buck (knowing they won’t be caught), some companies will take the easy road,” Mineta says. Though she reminds future brides that “not all companies are like that,” and great gown preservation can be done. Look for a company in the business “because they love fashion, dresses, and tradition,” and your dress will be in capable hands.
Staying Cool and Mildew-Free
According to Johnson, “Climate-controlled storage is a must to prevent large swings in humidity and temperature, which can prematurely age lace and delicate fabrics.” This means that climate control is an important factor for storing a wedding dress.
One of the biggest enemies of clothing preservation is moisture, which can sneak in with major changes in temperature, particularly in humid summer months.
With 51% of weddings (and the subsequent storage of those gowns) occurring from May to August, a climate-controlled unit is an important investment. You’ll also want to keep your dress, whether bagged or boxed, away from any harsh light. It’s much easier to keep the lights off in a storage unit than in a closet you browse every day!
Only these three steps—and the selection of the best self storage unit in your area—stand between you and the preservation of important memories for years to come!