Keep your gown immaculate for years to come

This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in June 2018.

When the last champagne glass has been cleared and the first Instagram picture shared, the wedding-day nostalgia will undoubtedly already be setting in. But before you woefully wrap your wedding gown in a plastic bag and tuck it away in your attic, consider instead having it professionally preserved.

“In order to keep the fabrics just like they are now, they have to be stored properly,” says Margaret Butler, bridal preservation specialist at Dublin Cleaners.

Indeed, a wedding dress is not unlike fine wine; it must be stored properly in order to age well.

“It’s like when you cut an apple in half and it turns brown,” explains Greg Butler, Margaret’s husband and Dublin Cleaners’ bridal cleaning specialist. Exposure to air and sunlight cause unwanted yellowing over time. The key to keeping that bridal-white beauty is an acid-free environment that inhibits oxidation.

Preserving your dress does just that: After a cleaning—and repairs, when needed—to make sure the wedding gown is in pristine condition, it’s sealed in an acid-free box to prevent oxidation over time. When you want to take the dress out down the road, the box comes with gloves and handling instructions to ensure it retains a long life.

When it comes to who preserves the dress for you, options include national companies and local cleaners.

Shipping it to a national company might sound convenient, but it also means brides are distanced from what’s being done to their dress—and who’s doing it. On the other end of the spectrum, local experts like Margaret and Greg support brides being more involved.

“When we have finished [cleaning] their gown, we encourage the brides to come in and look at it” before it’s sealed in the preservation chest, Margaret says. “We want them to see it all the way around, top to bottom.”

Victoria Hutta-Magness, who wed Daniel Magness on Aug. 26, 2017, had her wedding gown preserved for posterity … but also because of some pop culture influence. “I have grandiose ideas,” she says, “like Sex and the City.” It seems—fittingly—that Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic Vogue wedding photo shoot persists in the memory of many a bride.

For Hutta-Magness, staying local was enticing because it allowed her to see and talk with the people handling her wedding gown. “I liked physically handing it to someone and physically picking it up myself,” she says.

Margaret has another theory about why more brides are opting for local cleaners: the wealth of bridal boutiques in Columbus.

Columbus bride Andrea Lemasters—who married Steve Lemasters on July 15, 2017—chose to stay local after a recommendation from her bridal salon’s seamstress. She took the recommendation to heart because preserving her wedding gown was never an “if” question for her.

“My mom has her wedding dress, my sister has her wedding dress and my grandma has her wedding dress,” Lemasters says. She hopes that one day, she too might have a daughter who will want a piece of her dress and the family tradition.

Whatever a bride’s reason for preserving, one thing will always be the same: As time goes by, unpreserved wedding gowns will yellow, and their untreated stains will brown. The only way to ensure your gown stays immaculate is to place it in the care of a qualified professional.