How to Preserve Your Wedding Dress and Bouquet After the Wedding
by Jennifer Mathis June 11
After all the planning, stressing and excitement, your wedding day has suddenly come and gone so quickly! A bride’s wedding gown is the most expensive, gorgeous piece of clothing she’ll ever wear. She also puts a lot of thought and money into creating the perfect bouquet to carry down the aisle and toss to her girls. Parting with these items can be hard, but preserving them lets you keep them to reminisce on forever! If you want to keep your gown, it’s important to take the necessary steps to preserve it. Otherwise, your dress will most likely turn yellow, develop brown spots from oxidation, grow mold and mildew and/or have permanent creasing. You also can’t just put your bouquet in a vase and expect it to last a lifetime. There are several ways to preserve your wedding dress and bouquet that will keep them looking brand new and also help preserve your memories of your special day. Keep reading to find out how!
Photo // Meeker Pictures
Preserving Your Dress
Taking or sending your dress to a preservationist is the easiest way to preserve your dress. They will clean it and package it using special methods to ensure safe, long-term storage. Just ask your bridal boutique where they suggest! However, it can also be pretty pricey. If you’d like a cheaper option, preserve it yourself with these steps!
Get it cleaned
Getting your gown cleaned is essential to preserving it. Have your dress professionally cleaned within six weeks, unless it’s silk, which should be done immediately. The less time stains have to set in, the better. If you’re going on your honeymoon right after the wedding, make arrangements with a family member or bridesmaid to take your dress to the cleaners right away.
Do your research to ensure your dress is in the hands of specialists who know exactly how to manage delicate fabrics and embellishments, like pearls, beads, sequins, etc. Find out whether they use a virgin or recycled solvent. Recycled solvents can cause your dress to acquire an odd smell. Check the label on your dress for any cleaning directions as well. Lastly, take a look at their policies. What’s their warranty like, and do they guarantee a refund of the cost of the dress AND the cleaning should any damage occur? Notify the cleaner of any and all stains. Be aware of clear, invisible stains, like sugar, alcohol, soda and oils, and places you might have sweat as these stains will oxidize, discolor and become noticeable over time if not treated.
Seal it, box it, or bag it
*Before handling your newly cleaned dress, make sure you’ve washed your hands to get rid of any lotions, oils and anything else that could transfer onto the dress. Wearing cotton gloves is strongly advised!*
Most preservationists either seal, box or bag dresses. Sealing it involves vacuum sealing your dress in a bag. While this might seem like the most protective route, sealing your dress can actually cause the permanent creases, yellowing, molding and mildewing we’re trying to avoid. It also prevents you from being able to check on it regularly. Most people prefer boxing or bagging their gown.
Boxing your dress first involves folding your dress and wrapping it in white acid-free tissue paper to help prevent creasing. If the tissue is any color besides white, it will dye your dress! Consider stuffing the dress with tissue paper to help it maintain its shape. Then, place your dress in an acid-free box made from acid-free board. Acid-free wedding chests are highly recommended! Boxing allows your gown to breathe and to be accessed easily. If you box your dress, it is advised to refold it every two to three years to avoid permanent creasing.
If you decide to bag your dress, hang it on a padded hanger by the loops inside the dress connected to the strongest seams. Then, bag it in a cotton or acid-free plastic bag, NOT regular plastic. While hanging your dress offers the best air circulation and permanent crease prevention, long-term hanging of your gown is not ideal.
Find a good place to store it
Where you store your dress is just as important as the cleaning and the packaging. Cool, dark and dry environments are best, such as under your bed or in a dry closet. Places with extreme temperatures, lots of light or humidity, like attics, garages, and basements, are a no-go. You might put some silica desiccant packets inside your packaging to help control humidity.
Preserving Your Bouquet
Preserving your bouquet lets you get in touch with your creative side! We’ve listed a few popular options below, but they don’t stop there! However you choose to preserve your bouquet, make sure you do it while your flowers are still fresh for the best results.
Do your research on your flowers before you press them because certain flowers press better than others. For example, there are flowers that quickly fade in color, have petals that easily fall off, or have a higher water content, which makes them more likely to mold and brown. Some flowers take longer to dry, and bulkier flowers might need the middle petals removed or turn out best when separated into individual petals or flowers.
When it comes to the actual act of pressing flowers, there are a number of ways you can do it. Stick them inside the pages of a big book, like a phone book or textbook or between two pieces of bolted plywood. Either way, you’ll need to make sure to sandwich the flowers in between materials that soak up moisture. Cardboard and paper often work well for this. Parchment paper is common, too, but doesn’t always work due to its inability to soak up moisture. When they are ready, arrange them how you’d like, maybe around a picture or two, and frame them! Another option is placing them throughout your wedding photo album!
Not prepared to press your flowers yourself? Hand them off to a pro like Petal + Press Studio! The floral preservation studio will take your bouquet, press the flowers and arrange the dried blooms in beautiful work of art. P+P will work with you to create the design of your choice (beyond the bouquet design pictured above, our favorite is her Texas state arrangement!) and will even incorporate additional details like your bouquet charms or invitation paperie into a framed heirloom for your home.
Drying your flowers keeps them in their original shape and is easy to do! There are multiple approaches to this as well. The most common is tying the bouquet together tightly and hanging them upside down somewhere temperate, dry and preferably dark to preserve color and perfume. Covering them with silica gel in an airtight container also produces a beautiful dried flower! After they’re dry, frame them how you’d like or put them in a cute silk bag as a keepsake.
Turn them into a paperweight
Another popular idea is to preserve them in epoxy resin and turn them into a globe or paperweight! This allows your flowers to look exactly the same as they did on your wedding day! It’s possible to do this from home by getting a prism, sphere or cube mold, placing your flower in it, and filling it with resin. Most do the process in layers. Put the resin in first, then the flower, then add more resin until the mold is filled up. To prevent ruining your flowers, try it first using non-sentimental flowers or just take your flowers to a florist or business that does flower preservation.
Dip them in wax
Dipping the flowers of your bouquet is another great way to preserve your beautiful blooms. However, keep in mind that wax only extends a flower’s life temporarily, not permanently. The process first includes melting the wax using boiling water and then letting it cool to a warm temperature. Next, gently dip the flowers one by one into the wax, pulling them out right after. Hang them upside down to dry and allow all excess wax to drip off. Then, voila! Your flowers will thrive for another six months or so!
While painting your bouquet isn’t preserving the flowers themselves, it still preserves the memory of your flowers in full bloom in an artistic way. Search around for a local artist that does custom paintings or drawings of bouquets. There are several artists on Etsy as well that do a magnificent job!
If you are interested in preserving your dress, check out some of our bridal gown salons that provide preservation services here!