Wedding Dress 101: The Right Way to Clean and Care for Your Gown

Between all the effort that went into picking my wedding dress and having it altered, I never thought much about its post-ceremony fate. In fact, I didn't even consider the logistics of caring for it until my first day as a married lady, when I noticed its entire hemline was filthy. So filthy, in fact, that I was sure it would take a sizeable chunk of our honeymoon fund to fix it. And I thought all the big expenses were over with!

Next, I realized, there was the issue of finding a place to store it in our tiny New York City apartment; we only have two small closets and both are already packed with (mostly my) clothes and shoes. After weeks of dealing with florists and seating arrangements and temperamental family members, it was too overwhelming. I told myself I'd sort it all out in a week or so, stuffed my gown in the trunk of my husband's car and promptly forgot about it. And 10 months later, it's still there.

Now that our first anniversary is this coming October, I've run out of all my "but we just got married!" excuses and need to face my dirty (literally) little wedding dress secret. For help, I turned to Kim Smith, the Director of Alterations at David's Bridal, for insight on the proper way to care and store for gowns. I've included her five best tips in the slideshow below, including advice that both on-top-of-it and negligent brides, like me, can use. Click through to rescue your gown now!

1. Don't try to clean your own gown.

Attempting to treat a traditional wedding dress at home will probably do more harm then good; fabric might be ruined and stains stuck for good. It's much better, Kim told me, to seek out professionals—even if you've managed to avoid spilled wine or lipstick marks! "Most brides' dresses are floor-length and pick up dirt and grime anyways," she insists. Right after cleaning is a good time to have any minor repairs done, too, so you look for a place that offers both services.

Modern Bride/Thomas Iannaccone