After paying all the bills for your big day, the last thing you want to do is to spend a small fortune preserving your wedding dress. But in order to keep your gown for years to come, whether just for yourself to look at or to pass down to a daughter, it needs to be properly protected.
Thankfully, you can do part of the process yourself to keep costs down. And if you’ve done a little planning before the wedding, your dress can be taken care of while you are away sitting on a beach with your new spouse. (This is a perfect task to give one of those family members who keeps asking how they can help!)
Inspect It For Stains
Before you head out for your honeymoon, thoroughly inspect your dress for stains. This way, you’ll be familiar with the condition of your dress before handing it over to a professional and you can keep an eye on it for years to come. Sugars—from cake, drinks, your hubby’s hands—are the biggest concern since they can cause fabric to turn brown over the years. Mark stains with straight sewing pins.
Get It Cleaned
During the wedding planning process, be sure to add “Choose a Cleaner” to your to-do list. “If the cleaner does not do at least 75 gowns year, they are not very experienced,” says Sally Lorensen Conant, Ph.D., Executive Director, Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. You want experience. Find out whether they clean it in house or send it out, what their policies are if damage is done, and how they treat gowns.
“Ideally the specialist will treat the spots by hand,” Conant explains. Stains are either wet, such as coffee and wine, dry stains such as grease and makeup, or both such as gravy. “Then the gown needs to be immersed in solvent to rinse out the various products used to remove the stains. Many specialists use wet cleaning techniques, but ordinarily silk—especially silk satin–should never be wet-cleaned. Unless there are very special circumstances such as heavy soil or mud, silk should be dry cleaned so that the sheen of the silk fibers and the way the fibers are woven are not disturbed with water.” The more experienced the cleaner, the better they will be able to handle these variations. $250 is about the average, though the price can vary depending on where you live, the amount of stains, and the volume of the dress.
If you have a friend or two getting married around the same time as you, team up with them and get your dresses cleaned together. You may be able to work out a group discount, suggests Conant.
Choose a Storage Box
Gown preservation companies insist on using acid-free storage boxes because they help maintain the integrity of fabric for years, but you don’t necessarily have to hire someone to pack the dress for you. You need the entire box to be acid-free, so try styles from Foster-Stephens, Hollinger or University Products. If the box you choose doesn’t come with acid-free tissue paper, pick some up or buy a few yards of pre-washed, unbleached plain muslin and plan to wrap it around your dress. Prices for boxes start at around $40 and increase based on the size you need.
Fold the Dress
Hanging a heavy dress can cause strain on the fabric, so experts recommend that you store a wedding dress folded for the longterm. Lay out a clean flat sheet and wash your hands thoroughly to remove any residual oils and dirt. Place your box on top, line it with acid-free white tissue paper or muslin, and fold the dress, adding tissue or muslin between each layer. Be gentle as you fold the gown and avoiding pressing down to reduce creases and compressing the fabric. Do not store your dress in plastic since it could cause the fabric to yellow.
Store it Safely
You want to avoid temperature and humidity fluctuations as much as possible, as well as direct light, to keep the fabric looking great over the years. Experts recommend storing your dress in a closet or even under your bed, if you are short on space. Avoid the basement, attic, and garage since they often have unpredictable climates (and might be prone to floods or water damage).
You may also want to air the dress out every year both to keep the fabric healthy and to inspect it for any new stains or deterioration. Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you handle the dress to avoid getting any new residue onto the gown.
Along with picking out a gorgeous dress and booking the venue of your dreams, hiring a stellar photographer is one of the most important parts of planning your wedding. After all, when else will you get the chance to marry the love of your life with all of your family and friends gathered together in one place?
1. When should couples start looking for a wedding photographer?
After they’ve booked their ceremony and reception venues. You don’t want to book your wedding photographer without having done this first. If you do, and you can’t secure your venue for the same date, there’s a high probability that your photographer may not be available for the new date, and your retainer fee will be forfeited. Also understand that most highly sought wedding photographers are booked 12-18 months in advance. Couples who start looking early have a better chance of getting the photographer they want.
2. What should couples look for when checking out photographers’ websites, and how many photographers would you recommend they talk with or meet with in person?
You should narrow your choice to two or three photographers, then meet with each one in person. I know a lot of people like to do things by text and email, but this is one thing that can’t be done that way. When viewing a photographer’s website, look for consistency. You want to make sure their style is not all over the map.
3. You’ve been shooting professionally for 20 years. What role does experience play in a photographer’s ability to capture awesome photos?
Experience plays the most important role. All the creativity in the world is useless without the experience to bring it to fruition.
4. Along with experience, what are the other essential qualities of a good wedding photographer?
Being a good communicator and, as I mentioned before, consistency. You want to look for a photographer whose work is very consistent. That way, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’ll be receiving.
5. When meeting with a photographer for the first time, what are the top three questions a couple should ask?
How long have you been in business? How long they’ve been in business is a good indicator of a stable
business versus a fly-by-night business — here today, gone tomorrow. I’ve seen too many news stories about couples who hire photographers that go out of business before the couple receives their pictures.
Are you good at handling multiple personalities? You want to hire someone who can manage and coordinate groups of people without issues.
What exactly will I receive? You want to have a clear understanding of the services your photographer is providing and what you’ll receive.
From a young age, we've turned to our friends and told them everything. And once you get married, the need to tell-all gets stronger than ever. "It's tempting to share because you want support, a sounding board, and someone to be on your side," says Sharon Rivkin, Santa Rosa-based marriage counselor and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy.
But dishing everything to your closest gal pals can backfire. Not only can you ruin trust with your spouse, Rivkin says, but your friends' projections could make you even more confused over the secret you've spilled. So with that in mind, here are three marriage secrets you should keep to yourself.
1. The intimate details of your sex life.
Before you tied the knot, you may have dished every detail of your sexual encounters with your soon-to-be spouse. But now that you're married, your spouse may expect you to keep some sexual experiences to yourself. "For certain couples, there are sex secrets that at least one of them hopes to keep private from friends and family," explains relationship expert and advice columnist April Masini. "This may be a fetish, a favorite position, a frequency rate, or something similar." So before you divulge all the details, Masini recommends doing a temperature check with your spouse or partner what's A-OK to share about your sex life.
2. Your spouse's income and debts.
Masini says money is often considered a private issue. And it can embarrass your partner if you talk about how much he or she makes or the debt he or she brought into your marriage. Not only that, Masini says, but divulging certain money stats can make your friends downright uncomfortable, depending on their own situations. "Sharing income or debt information seems like a natural conversation topic," she commiserates, "but when you find friends acting weirdly, you may realize that disclosing your income made them feel uncomfortable, or that disclosing what something cost or how much your husband's raise was can make them feel awkward about themselves." To be safe, Masini recommends steering clear of money topics altogether.