Start by cleaning your wedding gown....
Your wedding gown and veil should be cleaned as soon after the wedding as possible. The longer that stains set on the gown the harder it will be to remove them, creating a risk to the fabric or color. Any invisible sugar based stains such as champagne should be noted and discussed with the cleaner. Champagne and any sugar based stains are often the most difficult to remove unless pretreated before cleaning.
Following cleaning, the gown should be inspected. This is a very important step. Any questions regarding stains that were not removed should be discussed at this time. Additional cleaning or handling to remove these stains may involve risk to the garment. You should make sure you are aware of all the possible risks prior to authorizing additional services.
Preserving your wedding gown....
Now your wedding gown is ready for proper storage. Gowns should never be packaged in plastic or hermetically sealed (often referred to as vacuum sealed) since trapped gases can buildup and cause permanent damage or a yellowing effect to the gown. Boxes made with cellophane or plastic windows are also a poor choice since they give off gasses which can cause damage to the gown. Sealing with plastic can also trap moisture inside the box creating potential problems with mildew. If your gown is made with natural fibers it will need to breathe in the storage environment. Museums and textile conservators recommend storing fabrics in an environment that breathes.
Insist that your drycleaner use archival products such as boxes and tissues that are acid free, lignin free and that meet museum standards and specifications for long term textile storage.
Archival unbuffered or buffered tissues should be used in between the folds of the gown to prevent permanent breaks or wrinkles. Buffered tissue is most commonly used with synthetic fabrics while unbuffered tissues are used on natural fabrics like silk, cotton or wool.
Every 5 to 7 years, take your wedding dress out for inspection and refolding. This gives you quality control over the gowns aging results and is most helpful in making sure you catch any stains that show with age. If new stains are noticed, you will need to have your cleaner inspect the gown and possibly reclean it. White cotton gloves should be used while handling your gown. Oils from your skin can oxidize leaving a stain like appearance on the gown.
The best place to store your preserved wedding dress....
The best place to store a gown is in a cool, dry place such as underneath a bed or on a middle shelf of a closet. Basements and attics where humidity and temperature are too extreme are not good locations. It is important that air is able to circulate around the box to provide a consistent, stable environment for the gown to age in. With care your gown can remain a prize possession for generations to come.