How to Store a Wedding Dress

Michael Bold
Written by Michael Bold · Posted in Dresses » Fashion Last Updated June 22, 2023 · minute read
In This Article

    Warning, warning, warning! You could be about to do irreparable damage to one of the most expensive and precious garments you’ll ever own.

    Do not fear though! We’re here to tell you exactly how to store a wedding dress so that it stays in tip-top condition and lasts a lifetime. 

    We’re also not solely talking about the storage after your wedding but rather from the moment you pick it up from the shop, the day of the wedding, and anytime after you’ve said: “I do”.

    It’s essential that you get this right. Improper storage of a wedding dress can lead to multiple issues. From saggy material, yellowing, and even mold buildup ewww.

    So, it’s a good job we’re on hand to set the record straight. 

    Follow our useful and thorough guide and you’ll be able to store your dress safely and conveniently whenever necessary.

    bride holds up wedding dress while walking to wedding

    How to Store a Wedding Dress

    Why do people store wedding dresses?

    Simply put, whenever you’re storing a wedding dress it is generally to protect it. Whether that’s from the grubby hands of children or out of reach from your pet cat.

    Wedding dresses cost a lot of money. Not only that, you want them to be in pristine condition when you walk down the aisle or may want to save the garment as a family heirloom.

    Before the wedding

    People can store their wedding dress long before the wedding day actually arrives. It all depends on when you pick it up from the shop or have it delivered. We class this as when the storing really starts. 

    However, the truth is that your dress has been stored by the manufacturer, the designer, or the bridal shop long before this date. You’re essentially keeping up their hard work until the big day. 

    The main goal is to be wearing a dress in pristine condition. That means no stains, no creases, and no stretching of the material should be allowed to take place.

    After the wedding

    Once the wedding is all done and dusted it’s time to think about preserving your wedding dress. This is a process of cleaning it from any contaminants that may have got on the material at your wedding. It then goes through a process to maintain its color and cleanliness for decades to come. This process allows it to be passed on through the family to be either worn again at some point or just enjoyed at a point in the future. 

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    When and how to hang up a wedding dress

    A somewhat controversial topic in the world of wedding dress storage is whether to hang or not to hang.

    Using a hanger to display your wedding dress of course shows it off in the best possible way. However, in some cases, it can also cause stretching that can misshape how the dress sits on the bride’s body.

    Hanging a dress for short periods of time shouldn’t be an issue and we’ve identified some key considerations to ensure it’s hung safely.

    • Choose the correct hanger: A hanger can go a long way to preventing damage to your dress. Make sure to pick one that is well-padded and is also very strong. Wedding dresses are heavier than they appear so it’s also important to make sure the dress is well-supported to prevent stretching. 
    • Use the clothing straps: Those straps inside your dress are there for a reason. They’re to help support the weight and mean the delicate straps of the actual dress aren’t solely relied on.
    • Location: Choose somewhere cool, dry, and out of direct sunlight. Essentially if it’s a place you’re comfortable enough in then it should be good enough for your dress. As already mentioned, try to keep it away from potential threats such as pets and children.
    • Space: Where possible try to hang your dress with plenty of space around it. This will mean it has more airflow and the material can breathe. At the same time if you pack it into a tight wardrobe you could easily get creases that will be a pain to get out. 

    Realistically you want to keep the hanging of your dress to a minimum. We know you want the wedding photographer to get a photo of it and we also know it looks great hanging up in preparation for the big day. However, just know that hanging a dress for an extended period of time isn’t good for it and may harm its appearance.

    Try to limit your contact with the dress

    We know, we know. It can be hard to resist but you must show restraint! If you want your dress to be stored in pristine condition you need to limit how many times you get it out and try it on. 

    Whether this is before the wedding or after any contact you have with your dress increases the chances of it getting damaged. Each time it’s handled you could be inviting contaminants to the surface of your beloved gown. Things like makeup, perfume, natural oils, and deodorants all have the potential to ruin a wedding dress.

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    Choosing the best storage location before and during the wedding

    That famous catchphrase of location, location, location couldn’t be more true than when it comes to storing a wedding dress.

    There are 3 key times that your wedding dress will need storing in our opinion before and during the wedding. 

    Some of these will be out of your control but will likely be handled by professionals that are well-versed in storing wedding dresses correctly.

    In the lead-up to the big day

    Before you even take your wedding dress home it is likely to be stored by the wedding dress shop that you purchased it from. Equally, it may be stored by your seamstress for your wedding dress alterations. You can trust these guys as they’ll store hundreds of dresses each year and follow all the correct protocols.

    However, once you get it home it’s up to you to follow their instructions. They’ll most likely advise you that you find a location that has the least risk of your dress coming to harm. It’s all about minimizing risk. 

    Say for example you have a spare room that is lockable, that would be the ideal location. Or perhaps you have a wardrobe that has plenty of space, this is also a great choice. 

    Avoid high-traffic areas like hallways and 100% do not store your dress in the kitchen, bathroom, or garage!

    On your wedding day

    The location you choose to store your wedding dress when the big day finally arrives will depend on who has already seen it. 

    If for example you’re getting ready at home and don’t want your dad to see it until you’re wearing it you can’t have it on display. 

    However, if you’re getting ready in a hotel room with your bridesmaids who have already seen it then it can take pride of place. Storing it in this way will allow your photographer to snap some photos of it as well as help to build anticipation for the day ahead. 

    Once again though make sure to keep it away from potential hazards. We’re thinking about that bottle of champagne you plan on popping or the hair and make-up artists’ various potions and curling tongs.

    Night of the wedding

    We know that you might be knackered after the wedding. Or in a rush to get your dress off for other reasons wink, wink… However, whatever you do don’t just leave your dress lying around crumpled up on the floor. 

    Make sure that it’s stowed away nice and safely and has no risk of red wine being spilled all over it. This will ensure it’s safe to remove from the wedding effectively and ready for the next stage.

    What is the best way to store a wedding dress after the wedding?

    So the wedding is all done and dusted and now it’s time to think about the best way to store it forever.

    Immediately after your wedding

    If you’re thinking about keeping your wedding dress or even selling it you should definitely have it cleaned. This will help to rejuvenate the dress back to its former glory. 

    It may look fine in person but if you use perfume, deodorant, or makeup whilst wearing the dress it can play havoc with the garment in the future. 

    To ensure the longevity of your wedding dress you ideally need to get it cleaned ASAP. That way once you store your dress it will stay as good as new for a long time to come.

    Long term

    Storing a wedding dress long-term is great for people that either want to keep the dress in the family or simply enjoy taking a look at it on each wedding anniversary.

    Many wedding dress preservationists say that your dress will look like new for up to 100 years. Specialist techniques are used to ensure your dress stays looking how you remember it for as long as possible.

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    Do’s and Don’ts of wedding dress storage

    Do’s

    • Have your wedding dress professionally cleaned.
    • Use professionals to get your dress preserved in a presentation box.
    • Find a clean and dry location to store your dress.
    • Pick somewhere that the dress won’t be in constant direct sunlight. This could increase the risk of color fading or yellowing.
    • Use acid-free materials. Things like tissue paper, tape, and boxes. These will all help keep your dress stored in tip-top condition.
    • Check on your dress once a year at minimum just to see how it is and enjoy the memories it brings you.

    Don’ts

    • Avoid putting your dress in a plastic bag at all costs. It won’t allow the fabric to breathe and it might increase the risk of mold.
    • Don’t put your dress anywhere that it isn’t really comfortable to live in. We’re talking about the garage, the attic, or the basement. These areas are often subject to moisture and as a result, could create mildew.
    • Try and avoid hanging your dress for long periods of time as it might stretch the fabric. It could also increase the risk of tears particularly if you don’t use a padded coat hanger.
    • Keep your dress away from anything with strong odors. Cigarette smoke, kitchens, bathrooms. It sounds obvious really, doesn’t it?!
    • Unless you’re 100% confident don’t clean your dress yourself.

    Should you hang your wedding dress or not?

    Short term

    If you want to hang your dress for things such as alteration, adding embellishments, or simply showing off on your wedding day it can be perfectly fine. Short-term hanging is unlikely to bring your dress any major harm. 

    Obviously, we recommend applying some common sense here. If your dress weighs an absolute ton it’s probably not the best idea. 

    Make sure you choose a suitably padded hanger and one that will look nice in photos. At the same time use the hanging straps so that there is less pressure on the delicate material of the dress.

    Long term

    When storing a wedding dress in the long term it’s best not to hang it. Gravity will inevitably play its part and the constant downforce could stretch out your precious gown. This can be exacerbated if your dress is heavy. 

    So, if your dress has lots of embellishments or weighty fabrics it’s best to look for alternatives. We suggest having your wedding dress professionally preserved. 

    This service cleans, restores, and then presents your dress in a preservation box. They usually have a window built into the box so that you can view your dress at any time.

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    FAQ on how to store a wedding dress

    Is it better to store a wedding dress in a bag or box?

    A preservation box is the way to go in our books. They offer more protection from the elements that are likely to cause your wedding dress harm. At the same time, they can also look more stylish and feel a bit more special when you get them out.

    Garment bags do have their place though and might be more convenient for short-term storage. Just make sure to choose one that’s made of a breathable fabric. Plastic ones should be avoided at all costs as they can cause moisture to build up inside them.

    Can I store my wedding dress folded?

    100% you can! It’s actually the way many wedding dress preservationists will present your dress. The thing is that if it’s done incorrectly it can result in creases to the garment that can be annoying to get out. Make sure to pad the folds with acid-free tissue paper. This will make a more natural curve in the fabric that should prevent creasing.

    Can you store a wedding dress in a plastic container?

    No, not really. In a similar way to a plastic bag, this will serve to trap air and moisture leading to potential issues with mold that can damage your precious dress. It might be fine to use one to transfer your dress from say your home to the wedding venue but is definitely not an option for long-term storage.

    Should I keep my dress in a plastic bag?

    We can’t stress this enough! Do not store your wedding dress in a plastic bag. You’re asking for trouble. Instead, aim for acid-free and breathable materials if you find that a bag is more convenient for you and your needs. Your bridal shop should be able to supply you with one of these to help you safely store your dress.

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    Conclusion

    Taking care of your wedding dress is vitally important to maintain its appearance for as long as possible. A major part of that process is knowing how to store a wedding dress properly and the common mistakes you should avoid.

    Hopefully, by reading our thorough article you now know the correct way to go about storing your dress. From how important it is to choose the correct location all the way through to the type of hangers or materials you should use.

    We also hope you understand the need for speed when thinking about preserving your dress after the wedding is over. Get your garment cleaned as quickly as possible and send it off to a professional preservationist.

    Following the steps we’ve outlined in this article should ensure that your dress comes to no harm whilst being stored. At the same time, it should mean that it lasts for years and years and can be enjoyed by future generations. Or it can simply bring back memories for you and your partner to share for years to come.