Let’s face it, most bridal gowns are pricey. But their cost, to a lot of people, can’t compare to its sentimental value. This is why many brides want to keep theirs in pristine condition even long after they have walked down the aisle. If you want to preserve your own gown, here’s how to do it:

Before the wedding

Wedding gown preservation starts even before the wedding. If you are yet to be married, you need to keep your dress pristine during the time leading up to your “I do”.

Avoiding stains is the most basic part of this, so you would want to steer clear of any stain potential on or before your wedding day. But, did you know pollen from flowers could stain your dress too? Most florists shear off the pollen bits, but there are closed-up buds that may open up right before you walk down the aisle. Consider double checking with your florist to remove the buds or designating a bridesmaid to watch out for ones that might need snipping.

Be careful when transporting your gown, too. For extra safety, wrap the embellishments with uncolored, acid-free tissue papers. Also, remember to save the labels, since you must show them to the cleaners. To avoid drink, food, makeup or hairspray stains, you may have to wait until the last minute to put on your dress, as well.

Keeping the dress safe after the wedding

Even if you made it through the big day without any real damage on the dress, it may not be heading straight to the cleaners. Your bridal store should, ideally, keep the dress for you. Otherwise, you may have to lay it as flat as possible or hang it by the loops inside the dress (not the shoulder straps), and wrap it in its proper garment bag. Every gown may have specific needs, so it is best to ask your boutique about post-wedding storage. Do not try cleaning it on your own, even if it has a stain. Some stains need to be removed professionally and might ruin your dress further if you try removing it yourself.

Consulting the cleaning experts

Settling down after the ceremony may take a while, but it should not hold you off from bringing your gown to the cleaners. Some unseen stains, such as spills from clear beverages and body sweat on the lining, can discolor the dress and turn it brittle over time.

However, the ones who should be cleaning your gown should specifically be wedding dress cleaners. While your regular cleaners may be great at washing off the stains from your jeans, they might not have enough experience and resources to clean elaborate gowns, delicate fabric and dress embellishments.

Packing and storage

Once you have had it cleaned, you can safely store your bridal dress. While some brides choose to hire professional wedding gown preservationists, you may choose to do it yourself by folding it, wrapping it with white acid-free tissue, and placing it in a box made of acid-free board (not with acid-free coating). Store the box in a cool, dark and dry place that has a relative humidity of 50%.

Whether you are hoping to pass it on to future generations, preserving an already-heirloom gown, or simply want to have it as a keepsake from your special day, your bridal outfit holds cherished memories that you would want to preserve. With proper handling, the gown can even outlive you and last for hundreds of years.