Yesterday, eight months from the first and last time I wore it, I finally picked up my wedding dress from the cleaners/dress preservation place. I dropped it off there July 17 -- took them long enough! Not that I needed the dress for anything, but I was still happy to get a call from them last week telling me it was ready for pickup and hadn't been lost or destroyed in some freak preservation accident. (Apparently the boxes were on backorder, hence the delay.)
Picking up the dress took about 20 minutes because the sweet old lady at the cleaners wanted to unpack and show me the dress and then verrrry carefully seal it all up again. She even used a vacuum thingy to suck the air out of the second plastic bag and a flat iron to (sorta) seal it shut before she handed over the box. Intense!
When I got home, I opened it all up once more to take a better look at it -- and also so I could share it with y'all. I didn't really have any idea what preservation entailed (and I still don't entirely) when I got talked into it, but I figured I should do my part to protect the investment my parents made in buying my lovely dress. All I know is that it's nice and clean now, and that it won't turn yellow.
Now my dress lies cushioned with acid-free tissue paper in a presumably acid-free zippy bag in a box made from a special kind of plastic. Some boxes have a little display window, I hear, but mine doesn't. The cleaners wrapped all that up in three bags -- muslin, heavy plastic and one that felt like a normal dry-cleaner bag -- though I don't think I need to keep all of them.
Once I got through all those outer layers and opened the box, I found a pair of white cotton gloves inside the zippy bag. If you're going to touch your dress, you have to put these on so you don't get any body oils on the dress that might oxidize over time and cause stains. Again: Intense!
After a full five minutes of dealing with all this packaging, I made it to the dress. It's beautiful, even all folded up! The veil is rolled up in tissue paper (helpfully labeled "Veil"), and the dress is folded over on itself probably two times under there. There's a lot of skirt to deal with! Although, the fact that they removed the crinoline in order to preserve the dress (which I'm assured will only be like $25 to add back, should the dress be put to future use) certainly means there's a lot less dress to fit into the box.
There were some stains that the cleaners couldn't get out, but those were mainly at the bottom of the skirts -- no surprise there, especially since I didn't have a bustle and just swept the ground behind me all day and night. Happily, I didn't spill any Cheerwine on myself while dancing, which would have been disastrous. Other than the stains at the hem, I know there was a tear or two in the lining of the skirt (one of which I remember happening during the ceremony) and I'm sure there must have been a snag or two in the tulle from the twigs my skirt kept picking up while we were taking pictures during the cocktail hour. Of course, I won't ever see these things unless I take the whole dress out of the box, which probably won't happen until I have someone else who wants to wear it (friend, daughter or other) because lord knows it would be smooshed back into the box all covered in cat hair.
So anyway, I don't know if any of you ever wondered what the dress preservation/storage situation was, but hopefully this post tells you a little bit about it. Regardless, it was nice to see my pretty pretty dress again in real life, as opposed to just in photos. Such lovely memories!