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How to Store a Wedding Dress & Other Care Tips from Stylists

There is so much excitement when you buy your dress and pick it up for the first time that it’s easy to forget what to do next! Your wedding is likely still a few months (or more… thanks to COVID-19) and you have to ensure your dress stays in tip-top shape for your big day! We’ve had a lot of brides asking how to store a wedding dress long term, how to travel with it, and general tips for care. Today we’ll answer all of your burning questions, so your wedding day is filled with good surprises only.

What to Do After You Pick Up Your Dress

finding your dream wedding dress at Brideside
Pictured here: Ellera Marion wedding dress by Brideside!

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be so excited when the time comes to pick up your wedding dress! Once you bring your dress home, it is important to take it out right away for a few reasons:

  1. It is beautiful and it is yours. Take some time to admire your dress!
  2. You need to make sure you have the right style, size, customizations, etc. We recommend actually trying on your dress to do this. Of course, our team does everything on our end to make sure your dress is exactly what you ordered. However, if anything is off, it’s better to notify us right away so we can help you out. 
  3. Your dress needs to breathe! Take it out of the plastic.

All Brideside bridal gowns come in a plastic shell inside a blue garment bag. Bridal stylist Claire says, “I always recommend removing the plastic and keeping [your dress] in just the garment bag. The plastic covering can cause mold or mustiness in case of unexpected moisture or heat.”

Your dress might seem a little different than you remember, but don’t freak out! This is very normal because unless you actually bought the sample dress, your dress will be (and look) brand new, and it won’t be clipped in to fit you perfectly. Keep in mind that your dress will look more like what you envisioned once you get alterations done. Fit is so important when it comes to loving your dress!

How to Store a Wedding Dress (Short-term & Long-term)

Ellera daisy wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses
Hanger shots: The only time you use the real straps! Pictured here: Ellera Daisy Bridal Gown and Brideside tulle bridesmaid dresses

Concerns about how to store a wedding dress long term have naturally come to the forefront with so many weddings being rescheduled or postponed. If you had to change your wedding plans, your dress will be ok! Whenever your wedding is, just follow these tips:

  • Do not hang your dress, especially if it is a stretchy fabric like lace or tulle.
  • If hanging your dress is your best option, do so by the lingerie straps. (AKA the hanger straps) and not your dresses’ actual straps so they don’t stretch out. The only time you should ever hang them by the real straps is for your hanger pics! 
  • Keep your dress somewhere cool, dry and out of sunlight. Laying on a shelf in a closet is ideal.
  • Humidity can cause damage to your dress. Bridal stylist Leandra advises, “Consider buying a dehumidifier or moisture absorber, especially if your closet or storage area is warm or damp.
  • Keep your dress away from the kitchen, smoke and pets. We’ve heard horror stories of cats ripping up the bottoms of dresses!

How to Travel With a Wedding Dress

Are you saying your vows at a distant location? Be sure to pack your dress carefully in your garment bag. First, stick the hanger through your garment bag and hang your dress by the hanger straps to give it some stability. Then, fold the sides of the dress in toward the center and roll it up from the bottom so it is contained in the garment bag. This will help prevent extra wrinkles and consolidate volume! Lastly, zip up your garment bag slowly. You don’t want the zipper to get caught on anything, so put a finger on the inside to guide it. 

Brideside Aura Mauve Bridesmaid Dress with White Wedding Dress
Pictured here: Aura Aria Bridesmaid Dress in ‘Mauve’ and the Ellera Louisa wedding dress

How to travel with a wedding dress by plane

Flying with a wedding dress might seem a little complicated, but it’s possible! Follow these key tips to ensure your bridal gown arrives at its final destination safe and sound.

  • Do not check your dress. You’ll feel better if you have it with you at all times.
  • Call your airline ahead of time and explain the situation. Oftentimes you can store your dress in the closet on the plane where staff puts their belongings. Still, not all airplanes have this, which is why it’s important to call beforehand.
  • Sometimes an airline will let you put your dress in the overhead bin (usually in a rolled-up garment bag) or in an extra seat if there is one available.
  • Double check weight and size rules for carry-on items with your airline prior to traveling. No surprises today! 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Bridal care expert Sara says that, especially if the flight is not overly packed, you can ask the flight attendant to help with storing your dress on board.
  • If you have the funds, flying first class or buying another ticket for your dress (yes, it happens) is another way to go. With more room and extra staff attention, they’ll make sure your dress stays safe.

How to travel with a wedding dress by car

If you’re driving a long distance (and with a packed car), it’s important to know how to protect your dress! Here’s our advice:

  • Bridal care expert Alysia says to put the hanger on the roof handles of the passenger side of the car and then lay the gown flat across the passenger seats if there is room. She adds, “Some cars will have that hanger in the trunk and you can put it back there too!” This helps keep it secure during turns.
  • Keep your dress in its garment bag as extra protection against any leaks or spills.
  • Keep your dress as flat as possible to avoid wrinkling.
  • If you’ve got lots of passengers or other items, avoid putting anything on top of your dress.

Day-Of Wedding Dress Care

You made it! But how to keep your dress looking amazing and wrinkle free? Most alterations professionals will give your dress a final press before handing it off to you, but your dress might need some last-minute help, especially if you traveled with it. Steaming is usually the best way to go, but you can always check with your bridal stylist ahead of time to make sure.

Our stylists have some great wedding dress prep tips for brides. Brittani says, “Always check with the venue (or wherever you are getting ready) to ensure that they have a steamer on hand and someone to steam it for you on the day of.” It’s important to have a designated person ready to do this who knows how it works. If you’re unsure of whether your venue has a steamer, you can also pack a portable steamer and bring it with you. When steaming your dress, stylist Claire adds, “Use distilled water, as tap water can be rusty or dirty!” Do not put the steamer directly on the dress; you can even steam it through a wash cloth to be safe. Wait for your dress to dry before putting it on!

If the wrinkles are minor, you can also DIY a steam room. Run a hot shower and hang your dress in on a hook in the bathroom. Add towels to the floor, but leave the door cracked open so there is still some airflow. You want a steamy room, but you don’t want your dress to be damp! Wrap your hand in a dry, white towel to smooth out any wrinkles.

Brideside Bride Ellera Emma Wedding Dress
You’ll want your dress to look pristine on your wedding day! Just like Ellera Emma, pictured here.

SOS: How to Clean Your Wedding Dress

There’s a lot of time between getting ready and walking down the aisle, which means plenty of opportunities for spills. (Who can resist a pre-first-look mac n’ cheese cup?) If you get something on your dress, don’t panic! Do this instead:

  • Have someone on-hand for “spill duty” with an emergency cleaning kit. Items to pack include a wash cloth and cotton swabs, baby wipes, stain removal pen, baby powder, bar of white soap, rubbing alcohol and safety pins.
  • Use a club soda, baby wipes or colorless soap for basic spills like makeup or food. For grease stains, try tapping some baby powder onto it and letting sit for 15 minutes. Brush away. If the stain is still there, try rubbing alcohol.
  • Says Leandra, “For blood stains, I know it sounds gross, but use saliva!” 
  • Always spot-treat from the outside edges inward
  • Test a section on the inside of your dress before using any stain remover on the spot. If you see discoloration, you might need a different tactic. Stain removal pens can turn whites a little yellow, so be careful!
  • Whatever you do, do not use any harsh detergents.

What to Do With Your Wedding Dress After the Wedding

What you decide to do with your wedding dress after your big day is really up to you. If you’re selling, donating or preserving, you’ll want to get your dress cleaned first. We recommend going to a dry cleaner who offers specialized wedding dress cleaning services as soon as possible before stains really set in.

Here’s some ideas for what to do with your wedding dress!

  • Keep your dress forever. It’s ok if you don’t want to let go of it! Same storage rules apply: Keep flat in a dry, dark location. You can also get an acid-free wedding dress preservation box to store your gown in.
  • Have a “trash the dress” photoshoot. Because why not? Grab a photographer and take some dramatic lake-jumping pictures or go crazy with color bombs.
  • For the charitable bride: You can donate your dress to organizations like Brides Across America (provides gowns for military or first responder brides) or Angel Gown Program (turns bridal gowns into infant gowns for babies who pass away in the NICU). We also love Adorned With Grace, a bridal reseller nonprofit that donates proceeds from every sale to the prevention of human trafficking and support for survivors. 
  • Get some cash back by selling your dress. Find resellers in your area.
  • Turn it into a work of art! Have a local artist turn your dress into a framed art piece to cherish forever.
  • Cut it short and wear again. Keep the memory alive by turning your dress into a cocktail or midi-length style.

Haven’t found the dress yet? Our stylists are ready to help you fall in love all over again.

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