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Cleaning Your Wedding Gown: Will It Be Suitable to Wear After?

Pale Pink Wedding Gown
Whether you first see the wedding gown that could be the right one for you in a magazine or on the internet, chances are you know even before you make your first visit to a bridal salon just what style and fabric you think your wedding gown should be.

But will the wedding gown that suits you be suitable for use? Before you fall in love with that bridal gown, take a second look. If there are beads, sequins, crystals or other decorative trims, be sure they are securely attached. Glued decorations never hold up as well as those that are sewn although sewing can be done so carelessly that beads start falling on the way down the aisle.

Now look inside the wedding gown. The care label provides a guideline for cleaning. It may not be the only way to clean the dress, it may not even be the best way to clean it, but is the method specified by the manufacturer. So if beads melt or glue melts or fabric shrinks, the manufacturer is liable for the damage.

You may find symbols as well written directions on the label. After a transition period that ended in 1999, symbols only may be used. Although European labels carry slightly different graphics, those in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are expected to be identical.

Five basic symbols stand for washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, and dry cleaning. Much like the universally understood pictographs seen in airports and on roadways, a diagonal line through the symbol prohibits use of the process it represents. And there are wedding dresses, particularly specialty dresses and dresses for the mother of the bride that carry labels with lines through all five symbols!

Marks added to the basic symbol indicate still more special handling. For example, a picture of a washing machine plus the image of a hand equals “hand wash.” Less easily read are dots and dashes indicating temperatures for drying and ironing or cycle times for dry cleaning. As a rule, the fewer the dots, the lower the suggested temperature, but dashes appear more randomly. Then there are letters that stand for dry cleaning solvents.

Unless you have no interest at all in whether or not your wedding gown can ever be cleaned or worn again, ask the shop to advise you if you cannot read the care label. Be wary if no one can answer your questions about the gowns serviceability and think twice before you decide to buy it. Is this really the only wedding gown you will ever find that is just right for you -- or should you look further for one that not only suits you but is also suitable for wear.

Copyright ©1999-2002 Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America.

"This article can be reprinted provided it is not edited in any manner and proper credit is given. This includes listing Sally Lorensen Conant, Ph.D. as the author and contact information for Association of Wedding Gown Specialists."

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