Storing your dress

You may have spent months looking for your wedding dress and have no doubt spent a significant amount of money. Although you will wear it only once, you will certainly want to preserve it properly-whether to bestow upon your daughter one day or simply to admire it as you fondly recall your wedding.

Before storing your gown, have it dry-cleaned, even if it doesn't look dirty. Invisible stains from white wine, perspiration, and oils from skin can cause permanent discoloration over time. Ask recently married friends or the sales-person where you bought your dress to recommend a reputable dry cleaner. Cleaning a wedding gown can cost hundreds of dollars; the price depends largely on the construction and trimmings of the gown. Unless you have spilled red wine over your dress, you don't have to rush to the dry cleaners the morning after your wedding-but don't wait too long. If you're going to be away on an extended honeymoon, arrange to have someone drop off your dress for you. One good source that works by mail is J. Scheer & Co.

You can have the cleaners pack it in acid-free materials for storage. Or you can do it yourself. Remove pins and plastic packaging, and wrap the dress (minus any foam-rubber bra pads or under skirts) in acid-free tissue paper; then store it in ac-free box (available at specialized stationery stores). Place a desiccant, such as silica gel, in the box to absorb moisture. Store your veil, shoes, and other bridal accessories separately.

Keep the box in a room where the temperature will not fluctuate drastically; a basement or attic is a poor choice. Then, once a year refold the dress so the creases do not become permanent. Just be sure to wear cotton gloves to avoid passing along oils from your skin.