It may seem frivolous to some, but preserving your gown is a special way to preserve the memory of your wedding day, too. Greg and Margaret Butler of Dublin Cleaners share their gown-preservation expertise.
Greg and Margaret Butler are the husband-and-wife team behind Dublin Cleaners, a dry-cleaning company operated by the Butler family since the 1930s. The duo has co-owned the business for 31 years-they're now passing the day-to-day operation to son Brian-and we sat down with them to discuss an often-overlooked part of the wedding-planning process: gown preservation.
Why is it important to preserve your dress after the wedding instead of simply storing it?
Margaret: Preservation is necessary when a bride wants to keep her gown indefinitely. [Preserving the gown] guarantees this. If a dress is stored properly, it should look as nice 50 years from now as it did when she wore it. Wedding dresses [are often] made of such delicate fabric that they will turn yellow without preservation.
Greg: This is oxidation.
M: With my own mother's gown … we found it in an attic. And it just practically fell apart in our hands.
What's the preservation timeline? How long does a bride have?
G: She doesn't need to rush her dress in to us too quickly … but within the first month [after the wedding] is a good idea. If there's a noticeable stain, though, bring it in sooner than later. We also have what we call a "clean-only" option-we clean the dress and put it in a cloth bag, and she can hang it in her closet for as long as she wants. She can keep admiring it and then have it preserved whenever she wants to, as long as she doesn't handle it and put it on and get it dirty.
Is there anything a bride should avoid at the wedding in an effort to protect her dress?
G: Asphalt parking lots. Brides will walk outside with that dress into a freshly sealed parking lot and get tar all over the hem. And that's the worst stain to remove.
What should a bride do if she gets a stain on the dress at the wedding?
G: Keep dancing and don't worry about the stain. Just party on through it. Then bring it in, and we'll straighten it out later.
M: I've never used club soda in my life. Don't worry about cleaning any spills-you could end up setting the stain. Just enjoy your day and let us take care of cleaning the gown when you bring it in to us.
When a bride is looking into a cleaning and preservation company, what are the key things she should note?
G: Find out whether the dress is going to be cleaned by the person you're leaving it with. A lot of the dry cleaners don't clean the gowns-they send them off to another company who will clean them and box them and send them back. The advantage of having someone clean it where you take it is … you can ask to see the dress before it's boxed. This way, you'll know how clean the hem came; you'll know whether all the buttons are still on in the back and so on.
Let's talk cost.
M: Our gown preservation today [in June 2013] starts at $267.93. For cleaning only, the cost starts at $130.
And what does that preservation price cover?
M: It includes the cleaning and the preservation of the gown and veil and other items-if she wore a shrug, if she wore gloves, if she carried her grandmother's handkerchief. We clean everything, and we display it in a chest so that you can see it. The only thing we can't put in the box is anything that has any rubber, so shoes, of course, can't go in.
What if a bride gets her gown preserved and later decides she wants to wear it again?
M: It's going be a bit difficult for her to repack the box exactly as it was. But yes, you can open the seal. We can provide white gloves to protect the dress when she holds it. She can try it on and then put it back in the box.