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Many women buy a wedding gown ahead of time, because it reinforces their determination to be a bride… soon! Others buy their gown when they see the perfect one, especially if it’s on sale.
If you buy your gown early, it’s probably best to store your wedding gown at your parents’ home. The guy is likely to feel rushed to the altar if he sees it in your closet every day.
In fact, it’s generally best not to mention the waiting wedding gown at all. It could be a little scary to a guy who’s still in “not ready to settle down” mode.
Like fur storage services, there are companies — usually associated with dry cleaners — who will safely store your wedding gown for you… for a fee.
A far better choice is to buy a hanging storage bag for your gown. For the price of one month’s storage with a specialized service, you can store your wedding gown safely, yourself.
Here are the features you’re looking for.
- Breathable – Dry cleaner’s bags and plastic storage bags are a bad idea. The plastic can off-gas and turn your gown from white or ivory into an uneven cream-to-yellow color. It can look water-stained, or worse.
- Acid-free -All storage bags are not created equal. Some fibers contain chemicals that make them acidic. Instead, make sure your storage bag is acid-free. Then, your gown won’t yellow, it won’t dry out, and it won’t develop a strange odor before that magical day.
- Big and roomy – Many wedding gowns have huge, voluminous skirts. Even if you could iron them, you wouldn’t want to. However, many can only be pressed with a specialized steamer. The tulle or satin flowers can go limp with the heat. All in all, you don’t want anything to crease or flatten your gown. So, make sure the bag is big enough to store your wedding gown without flattening it.
- Side gussets – No matter how big the storage bag looks, if it’s made to hang flat like an envelope, it’s still likely to crush your gown and its train.
- White – Many clothing storage bags are black, gray, or a color. Assuming you’ve chosen a breathable, fiber storage bag, those colored fibers can get on your wedding gown. It can take forever to pick all the little threads and flecks off your gown. So, be sure to get a white bag to store your gown for that special day.
- Flat, paneled bottom – You’ll want this so you can carefully fold (back & forth, back & forth) the train of your wedding gown. (Tip: Where it might fold, support the train with crumpled, acid-free, white tissue paper. Many gift shops and greeting card stores carry that kind of archival tissue paper. With the folds supported, you won’t have creases in the train when you get ready to wear your gown.)
- Full-length zipper – You might be surprised by how many clothing storage bags have a zipper that’s only two or three feet long. Forcing your gown into the bag through that opening, and then removing it…? That’s likely to press wrinkles into your dress. Make sure the bag has a full-length zipper.
- Washable – After your wedding, you may want to keep your gown in case your daughter wants to wear it — for sentimental reasons — when she gets married. After your own wedding, you’ll probably have your gown cleaned. It’s a good idea to wash your storage bag, too. That prevents it from smelly musty as soon. (Tip: Do not use fabric softener or a dryer sheet if you dry it in the clothes dryer. The chemicals in those products can leave a fragrance, or non-archival off-gassing in the bag.)
So far, I’ve only found one garment storage bag that meets all of those qualifications. It’s the X-Large Breathable Wedding Gown Bag.
- Make sure the hanger is sturdy enough, and well-padded. You might be amazed at the weight of a wedding gown with beading, or a cathedral-style train, or both.
- If you do have a cathedral-style train with your wedding gown, and it’s removable (they usually are), get a second bag to store it separately. Never try to overstuff a wedding gown bag. For the low cost of most wedding gown bags, order two and make sure your gown and train won’t get wrinkled or flattened, while they’re stored.
How to safely place your wedding gown into the storage bag
- Unzip the bag and spread it out on the floor.
- Place a white, 100% cotton bed sheet inside it, so the ends of the sheet are draped outside the bag, covering the zipper on each side.
- Carefully place your gown inside the bag. Be sure it’s not too tightly folded (see my tissue paper suggestion, above), and as smooth as possible.
- Fold the sheet over the gown, protecting it from the zipper on each side.
- Zip the bag.
- Hang it up.
Here’s the only wedding gown bag I recommend:
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Are you ready for a wedding gown? Some brides buy their gowns long before they’ve found Mr. Right. Others wait until they’re engaged, and a few wait until the last minute… just in case.
I’m in favor of buying the gown a couple of weeks after he proposes and you’ve accepted. It becomes part of the series of steps from engagement to the altar.
You’ll need to make a few decisions before you look at bridal gowns.
- Modest or wowza, or somewhere in-between – Wedding gowns can be demure or revealing, strapless or discreet, floor length or mini, and form-fitting or voluminous, with plenty of variations. Consider where the wedding will be held (church, garden, or somewhere else), the weather, and how your extended families will feel (and how well they’ll welcome you) if you make a surprising choice. (On the other hand, it is your wedding. Wear what you want to.)
- Synthetic or natural fibers – Synthetics are usually less expensive, but they may not age well if you’re planning to keep your gown for your daughters to wear at their weddings. On the other hand, they’re less likely to need ironing on the big day. Natural fibers usually store better, but the price tag on a silk gown can be 10x the price of a similar gown of nylon or microfiber.
- White, off-white, or a color – Most brides choose a white or ivory gown if its their first wedding, even if the couple have been living together or have children. Many brides wear white or off-white for a second or third wedding, too. Today, it’s your decision, and some brides — usually of the Goth persuasion — even wear black.
- Train or no train – Whether your gown should have a train, and how long it should be, is something to consider ahead of time. In most cases, the train will be removable, so you can dance without it at your wedding reception. Consider where you wedding will be, and how smooth the surface is. A garden path or a rough-hewn church floor can snag a cathedral-style train. However, you can rent a white (or red or other color) satin or carpet-style walkway, no matter where the wedding will be. And, you can always have bridesmaids or flower girls carry the train for you, so it doesn’t drag (and perhaps snag on something unexpected).
- Gloves or no gloves – If you’re wearing a strapless or sleeveless gown, gloves can add a nice formality to your appearance. However, if you choose gloves — especially full-length gloves that extend above your elbows — make sure you can remove them easily and quickly, so your groom can place the ring on your finger.
- Veil or no veil – A veil can be lovely, or an inconvenience. It’s a matter of style and personal taste. If you’re wearing a strapless gown, a veil can make it look more like a wedding gown and less like a white prom dress. On the other hand, if you’re wearing a voluminous wedding gown, a massive veil can make you look a little hefty or give a “too much trimming” impression.
- Wings? I’m not kidding. At one of the loveliest weddings I’ve attended, the bride wore custom-made wings similar to the wings worn by Drew Barrymore at the pinnacle moment in the movie, Ever After. The wings completed the “fairy tale” effect of that happy day.
These are the main points to think about before browsing for a wedding gown.
Here’s one of my favorite wedding gowns, combining elegance and tradition with some modern details.