Bridal Apparel

(For more information on selecting appropriate attire for weddings, visit the PWC Wedding Apparel Page!)
YOUR WEDDING GOWN—BEFORE AND AFTER (August/September 2012)


By Steve Harms, Artisan Cleaners

Your wedding gown is one of the most important garments you will ever wear in your lifetime – and it sets the style for the entire wedding. Ever since you were a little girl playing with dolls, you’ve been dreaming about this day. As you search through magazines and browse bridal salons, have fun indulging yourself by trying on an assortment of different gowns. Once you find the one you love, you can then select complimentary bridesmaids and groomsmen attire. But shopping for a wedding gown can be frazzling on your nerves – not to mention exhausting. Here are some of PrescottWeddings.com suggestions in how to make buying your wedding gown a wonderful experience.

  • The happiest day (so far) has come and gone. You are on your way to your honeymoon destination. Your perfect wedding gown that took so much time and effort to get just right has been stuffed back into its plastic bag, stains and all, where it will probably stay for the next 2 to 5 years. This unfortunate scenario happens with over 50% of the gowns that dry cleaners are asked to clean and preserve.
  • Most brides-to-be when asked what they intend to do with their gown after the wedding say they have not given it any thought. This is certainly understandable given the multitude of details and decisions they face. Gown preservation is a detail that a best friend or mother should be asked to handle. Cleaning and preservation can be a wedding gift from an individual or even a group that the bride will always remember.
  • Preservation should start when the gown has been decided on. Make sure that the gown is cleanable. Colored fabrics may bleed or fade. Beads, sequins, and trim may be glued on making the gown almost impossible to clean without destroying them.
  • Be certain your transportation is clean. Spread a white sheet in vehicles that haven’t been professionally cleaned.
  • When the gown arrives at home the plastic bag should be discarded. The gases from the plastic can yellow fabrics over time and it is too easy to reuse the bag if it is kept. A fabric bag or a white cotton sheet should be used for storage.
  • If your dress is rumpled during transportation and you are dressing at the venue, you may need to relax some wrinkles by creating a steam room. Cover the bathroom floor with towels and run a very hot shower, allowing the room to fill with steam. Turn the water off, then hang the dress on the back of the bathroom door. Wrap your arm in a dry, white towel and run it down the length of the gown, smoothing out any wrinkles. This method is much less likely to leave water spots or iron impressions than a home steamer or iron.
  • Be sure to wear a deodorant that is also an antiperspirant to prevent heavy staining. If your dress must go over your head, place a lightweight cotton cloth over your face to prevent the transfer of make up. Be sure to drape a towel over your shoulders to do final makeup touch-ups.
  • Care to avoid makeup, perspiration, and other stains during fittings and photos before the wedding can help the wedding day go smoothly. The wedding ceremony and reception are not the time to worry about stains. Have fun and enjoy the day.
  • Keep in mind that many stains such as food, beverages, and body oils are all but invisible until they have begun to turn yellow and set. Dirt, grass, food, makeup, and oil stains can transfer and spread over time.
  • Bring along your pre-laundered white sheet to wrap your dress in after the wedding. Have a trusted friend deliver the dress to the dry cleaner within a week.

Due to the wide variety of materials, the number of layers, the size of the train, and the amount of beading and lace, gowns are as individual as their brides. Also any stains or repairs must be considered in any estimate for cleaning and preservation. An estimate for cleaning given over the phone is at best a guess.
  • After cleaning the gown should be kept at household temperatures in a dry environment, not in an attic or basement. Long term storage on a hanger can be a problem. Heavier gowns can distort and stretch over years and be flattened in overcrowded closets. A gown properly stain-treated, cleaned, pressed, shaped, and folded into an acid-free storage box will ensure that the gown will last a lifetime.

PrescottWeddings.com gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Steve Harms, owner of Artisan Cleaners, http://artisancleaners.com, 928.778.4651.

Savvy Hints in Buying Your Bridal Gown (August, 2006)

Your wedding gown is one of the most important garments you will ever wear in your lifetime – and it sets the style for the entire wedding. Ever since you were a little girl playing with dolls, you’ve been dreaming about this day. As you search through magazines and browse bridal salons, have fun indulging yourself by trying on an assortment of different gowns. Once you find the one you love, you can then select complimentary bridesmaids and groomsmen attire. But shopping for a wedding gown can be frazzling on your nerves – not to mention exhausting. Here are some of PrescottWeddings.com suggestions in how to make buying your wedding gown a wonderful experience.

  • Your gown should reflect the formality or informality of the ceremony and reception. A mid-length dress that is totally appropriate for an afternoon garden wedding would be totally inappropriate for a lavish 200 guest black-tie wedding extravaganza.
  • Start shopping for your gown at least 5 months ahead of your wedding. This allows three to four months for the dress to be made and delivered to the store, and another month or two for fittings and alterations. Keep an open mind and try on different styles but don’t overdo it. Trying on too many gowns in one day can merge into your memory as one big blur of sequins and lace. We suggest limiting it to five per store. When asked when your wedding date is, fudge a bit by making it a month earlier. That way if there are any delays, there’s still time for your gown to be ready and delivered.
  • Make an appointment. Many bridal salons are busy places – especially on a Saturday. If possible, try to schedule your appointment during the weekday. You’ll receive more relaxed and attentive service.
  • Wear a strapless bra or bustier and bring shoes the same heel height you’ll be wearing on your wedding day. The strapless bra will provide versatility as you try on the different gowns and the shoes will give you an idea if the hem needs to be lowered or raised. If you’ll be trying on veils, arrange your hair in the style you think you’ll be wearing. Certain hairpieces are better for hair worn up or down.
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Look at quality of the gown. Are the sequins glued or sewn on? What about the seed pearls? What kind of material was used? If the gown is out of your budget, take advantage of the sales consultant’s expertise. They should be able to find you a similar dress priced within your pocketbook.
  • Ask questions before buying. Can you order a different neckline or sleeve on a gown? What does the store charge for alterations? Is there an extra cost for a rush order? How long will it take for the gown to come in? What is the required deposit and when is the balance due? What is the store’s refund policy? Are there any extra charges for pressing the gown?
  • Make sure the sales invoice is complete. Get a receipt with the price, color, size, manufacturer, style number, and most importantly, the promised delivery date. If the store has recommended a size for you, indicate on the receipt “Store recommends size”. That way if your gown requires extensive alterations, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate.
  • When your dress has arrived, take a trusted friend or family member with you when you try on the gown. Don’t rely on the bridal shop to inspect the dress for you. Make sure all fasteners, hooks, beads, sequins, pearls, crystals and appliqués are secure. Does the dress fit correctly or does it bunch up under the sleeve? Is there too much cleavage showing? A friend will tell you what you should know, not what you want to hear.

Preserving Your Wedding Gown (October, 2006)

From the moment your Groom sees you walking down the aisle on your father’s arm, you and your gown are the center of attention. And deservedly so. Not only are you lovingly glowing with beautiful radiance, but literally hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars was spent on your wedding gown.

With that much money invested, it’s no wonder that after wearing their gown the day of the wedding, many Brides want to store it in hopes that their daughter or granddaughter might wish to wear it. Or the Bride herself might intend on wearing the gown again on an important anniversary or renewal of vows ceremony. To help you preserve your wedding attire, PrescottWeddings.com offers these important hints.

  • Have your dress dry-cleaned by a professional as soon as possible! (And whatever you do, don’t try one of the popular “dry-clean at home” kits that are available on store shelves.) Even if your gown looks clean, it’s not. Perspiration, body oils, lotions, perfume and even hair spray have soiled your dress. There’s also some hidden stains you can’t see – whether it be from food, beverage, or even some dirt on the hem and train. Stains and soils oxidize and “set in” with age. The longer you wait to tackle them, the more likely they are to become permanent. Many dry-cleaners who specialize in bridal gowns offer a complete cleaning and packaging service.
  • Be sure to remove the sponge or foam paddings and metal buttons. It’s not uncommon for these materials to deteriorate with age or rust and will stain the fabric it’s attached to. All fabric-covered metal buttons and pins must be removed and stored separately.
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Stuff the sleeves, collar and bodice with tissue paper. Make sure that no sharp points dig into the fabric.
  • Wrap the clean gown loosely in white tissue paper. Unbleached cotton muslin works well too, or you can use an old sheet you have in your linen closet. However, you must make sure that the cotton muslin or old sheet has been washed at least five times in a mild detergent in hot water, and rinsed with hot water several times. This removes all sizing or finishing chemicals that could cause damage.
  • Put the dress in a brown cardboard dress box lined with tissue or muslin. The lining is important as it helps keep out light. Tape the box closed to keep out the dust.
  • If hanging, don’t use wire, scented or wooden hangers. Wire hangers rust and, in addition to staining, will crease the dress. The alcohol or fragrance in the scented hanger could damage the fabric. The acid in a wood hanger could stain the dress. If you must use wood, cover the hanger with muslin (and don’t forget to wash the muslin first, as instructed earlier.) To relieve the pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the skirt, sew straps to the inside waistline of the dress.

 Don’t use plastic garment dry-cleaners bags. Because plastic does not allow material to breath, it can damage fine fabrics when used for long-term storage. Moisture can accumulate inside which could cause mildew or spotting if they are too tightly sealed. Instead, make a garment bag with a protective white sheet or unbleached muslin (again washing at least five times).
  • Be sure to store in a cool, dry place, never in a hot attic or a damp basement. Extreme heat or cold accelerates the aging process. The ideal temperature range for most materials is between 60º to 70º with 50% relative humidity.
  • Check your gown periodically. Repack the dress (if it’s folded) with a different crease so that the fibers in one place don’t experience undue wear and weaken. Wear cotton gloves so that no oils from your hands get on the dress.