How long did you spend selecting your perfect wedding dress? The answer always varies, but it takes most brides a couple of months to find the one, and when you did, it was probably one of the best days of your life. Your wedding dress is not just a dress for a day, most likely you’ve been dreaming of this day and your gown since you were a little girl. No, it’s not just a dress for a day, it’s a symbol for all of those to come. Remember you’re going to look back at those photographs for the rest of your life. That’s why the choice and selection of the perfect gown was so important.
So the big question now is what to do with it. You may hope that a younger sister or perhaps even a daughter will someday wear your gown or you may want to hold onto it for sentimental reasons. In some cases, selling the dress to be a part of another bride’s dream day makes the most sense. Whatever your decision, your wedding gown is a treasured keepsake that, if properly cleaned and preserved, can last for years to come. Ideally you should have your gown cleaned and preserved within a few weeks of your wedding.
The question I am asked the most is: How much does it cost to clean and preserve a wedding gown? The short answer is: It depends. But I will try to dissect the market to help you make sense of the price points.
There are generally two ways to have your gown cleaned and preserved: by mail or outsourced to a wholesale gown cleaning factory, or individually cleaned and preserved by a specialist. Each method differs and have varying pricing.
The factory option. The price range for this service is between $95-$150. Typically, you order a box that you will place your gown into and then send to the gown factory. I like to compare this option to any big box operation; it’s a Wal-mart style process: big facility with a lot of automation and very little individual attention to detail and service. Your gown’s safety will not be guaranteed nor will you receive a preservation guarantee against yellowing and brown spots.
Individual cleaning. Having your gown hand-cleaned by a specialist on-site, while more expensive, has many advantages over your gown being sent to a factory. True gown preservationists use museum quality materials and processes to ensure a flawless final product. Many have special rooms with light, dust and humidity controls where the gowns are preserved buy technicians clad in lab coats and gloves. Shores process includes a consultation and hand-cleaning by a certified gown specialist, giving the dress owner the opportunity to have the cleaned dress “revealed” before we proceed with the preservation. Once we have approval, we perform an anti-sugar treatment to insure all stains that could cause yellowing and brown spots in the future have been removed. Then your gown is wrapped in freshly laundered muslin, surrounded with acid free tissue paper, and place in an acid free and pH neutral container. Specialists will guarantee your gown's safety and provide you with a preservation guarantee against yellowing and brown spots. Pricing for this type of service can range anywhere between $300-$600, with an average cost for cleaning and preservation falling near $450 depending on your gown. Pricing can also vary slightly depending on the market you are in.
There are certain factors that cause the price of cleaning and preservation to go up. Fabric content: Natural fibers such as silk, require a different level of expertise and time when it comes to stain removal and cleaning. Trim and construction: intricate trim and cuttings need to be protected and sometimes removed and replaced to ensure against damage which increases the labor involved in cleaning a gown. Damage in need of repair will incur alteration charges. Significant staining could incur restoration charges. In general, a silk couture gown will be on the higher side of average and a synthetic gown from a retailer like David’s Bridal would be on the lower side of average to clean and preserve.
There are also ways to reduce the cost of cleaning and preservation. The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists offers a $35 off coupon good at any affiliate location. Some cleaners offer packages that can be purchased that include gown services prior to the wedding and the preservation afterwards at a discount. For instance, if Shores performs alterations or pre-wedding cleaning, we traditionally discount the preservation charge for our customer. Another interesting trend is to request gift certificates for gown preservation as a shower/wedding gift. But I have seen that by far the most effective way to get your wedding dress preserved at a discount and sometimes even for free is to leave it at your parent’s house after the wedding. Sooner or later they get the hint.
Whichever course you choose, remember to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable and confident with the person and company you are trusting with your most treasured memory. Click here if you would be interested in a free consultation with one of our specialists and fill out a request, or contact us at 1-844-My-1-Gown anytime to speak with the specialist on-call. If you are not located near one of our facilities but would like to have your gown cleaned and preserved by one of our specialists, click here for more info.