Congrats, you’ve found your wedding dress! Now, you just have to ensure it stays as pristine and clean as the day you picked it out. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to care for your dress both before and after the big day.

Before the wedding

Ideally, you’ll be able to store your wedding gown at the store where you purchased it leading up to the wedding, recommends Michelle Miller, Co-Manager of Maddison Row South.

If for whatever reason you need to take it home, be sure to store it on a padded hanger in a dress bag. Then, take it out to let it air out and de-wrinkle a day or two before.

“If they chose to do portraits prior to their weddings, we suggest using a sheet under the gown while posing and recommend being extremely careful and conscious of makeup when getting in and out of the gown,” adds Miller.

The day of the wedding

On the big day, your number one priority for your dress should be keeping it clean – not an easy feat considering all the time you’ll spend dancing, drinking and eating. So, you should be prepared for little accidents with some handy tools and tricks.

“Dry brushing is always the first step. We love the Magic Wand for stain treatment, but you want to treat the stain from the inside of the gown if possible,” says Miller.

Exactly what you’ll need to remove spots will depend on the fabric and what stained it, so do some research beforehand. For example, for makeup stains, try treating the stain with water and dish soap (they contain a degreaser, which can target the oil in most makeup products).

After the wedding

Cleaning and preserving your gown post-wedding festivities is different than your typical dry cleaning. So, it’s important to let the professionals handle this for you, advises Miller. In other words: don’t try to treat anything yourself or attempt a DIY preservation.

When choosing a place to take your gown, look for a place that specializes in wedding dresses. They often have certifications and training to treat a wide range of specialty fabrics.

“If you do not have this, do your research and make sure that you are working with someone who has experience with both gown cleaning and gown preservation,” says Miller.

If you want to wear your gown again in the future (for a vow renewal or anniversary shoot), skip the preservation step and just get it cleaned for now. And don’t wait too long to get it treated – the longer stains are on the fabric, the harder they are to remove.

For storage, be sure to carefully follow the guidelines from your cleaner/preserver and keep it in a cool, dark and dry place. Avoid storing your dress in the basement since they can flood. Under your bed or in a climate-controlled space is best, according to Miller.

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