An unexpected complication of 2020’s wedding upheaval? Figuring out how to store your wedding gown if you’ve had to postpone your big day. As countless couples are rescheduling and pushing back their weddings (and as many overpacked bridal salons are beginning to charge fees for longer-term storage), lots of brides are left scrambling to figure out where and how to store their dresses. And while you might be tempted to tuck your dress into a garment back and hang it in the back of your closet, well … don’t. Keeping your wedding gown in pristine (bright, crease-free, gloriously brand-new) condition takes some prep. But don’t worry: We’ve got you covered.
First things first: How long will you be storing your dress? If it’s more than a month—two at the very most—forget hanging altogether. Wedding dresses are often delicate and heavy, especially those with beading, full layers, or other embellishments. Hanging these dresses for long periods of time creates stress in the fabric, especially by the straps, which can lead to pulls, tears, and shape distortion. (Gulp.)
Instead, experts recommend flat storage and, most importantly, proper folding techniques. (Many also recommend wearing white cotton gloves whenever you handle the dress; natural oils in your hands can discolor the fabric.) First: button, snap, zip or tie any closures on your dress, then lay it flat on a white cotton sheet. Gently fold the skirt back and forth (soft folds, no sharp creases!), placing a white cotton towel or layers of acid-free tissue paper between each fold to support the fabric and prevent creasing and fabric damage. Next, carefully place the dress in a large, sturdy box lined with plenty of acid-free tissue paper, secure it shut with tape and store it in a cool, dark, dry space—preferably in a room that isn’t in a high-traffic area, near heat sources, or in a basement or attic. (Another tip? Keep away from the kitchen, where cooking odors can seep into the fabric. You don’t want to smell like your fiancé’s spaghetti Bolognese when you walk down the aisle.)
Of course, if your wedding dress is lightweight (think: chiffon or organza), hanging for a longer period of time might not cause damage. To be safe, hang the dress in a garment bag securely by its garment loops on a sturdy, padded hanger (no wire or wood hangers!) and give it a once-over every week to check for damage. Look for pulls in the fabric, shape distortion, stretching and gapping. Every few weeks, lay it flat in a cool, dark, dry room for a few hours to take some stress off the dress for a while. Oh, and about that garment bag: Never, ever use plastic. The material doesn’t let fabric breathe, which leads to discoloration and yellowing. Instead, opt for an unbleached cotton muslin bag, and leave a small opening in it so air can flow through.
Once you’re all prepped, packaged and stored, sit back and relax, knowing that once your wedding day finally arrives, your dress will be there waiting for you: pristine, perfect and proof that patience never looked so good.