Here’s a question we hear every so often: “Can I wear my wedding dress after it’s preserved?”
Unfortunately, most of the time the answer we’re told is a big ol’ “nope”.
<insert sad trombone sound.>
But guess what? Yes you can!
<cue peppy marching band music.>
Remember: what you do with your dress depends on you and what you want to do with it.
Personally, I never wanted to seal anything away. I’ve never been a fan of time capsules or of anything like “deep storage”. If I’m going to keep something, I want to be able to access it. Even the most fragile artifact at a museum should be accessible to staff when needed. If I can’t access something occasionally, I wonder, “Should I keep it at all?”
Remember when people would bronze their kids’ baby shoes? I remember seeing a display at J.C. Penney’s (at the catalog order pickup counter; I remember it vividly) for their bronzing service as a kid and used to think,
“Why keep baby shoes if they’re just going to turn into a metal statue? Where’s the intrinsic personal and cultural value in that, and how does that reflect upon the ideals of our collective memory and social history in regard to material culture?”
Okay, okay, so eight-year-old me didn’t think of that last part. You got me. But I still thought it was weird.
Other things that were weird at the J.C. Penney’s catalog order pickup counter included: every single patterned turtleneck I wore in junior high and the time our order got mixed up and I received a black and gold lace teddy by mistake. Hmm.
Anyhow, dipping shoes in metal is a little different from sealing a dress in a box that you’re not supposed to open, but in other ways it is kind of the same thing.
Long before I founded Hangerbee, long before I had dreamed up Save the Dress, my wedding dress lived on the floor in the closet in a plastic garment bag. And yes, I felt bad about it.
But between you and me, the “sealing it away in a box” approach wasn’t for me. However, back then I didn’t have a solution. I knew what I didn’t want to do with my gown, but I wasn’t sure what I did want. So there it sat.
And it sat.
It was waiting for me to lose a little weight so I could try it on again.
And then, one day (eight years later OMG) it fit! Boy was it exciting to be able to simply take it out of the closet and try it on. There’s a slight chance I had an impromptu Sunday morning dance party and photo shoot in my son’s bedroom to celebrate (see photo).
But even then, I still hadn’t done anything with my dress except throw away the free plastic garment bag that came with the gown. (Surprisingly, the bag started to disintegrate after just a few years. I couldn’t believe it! With my background in preservation, I knew the white plastic bag wasn’t good for the long-term, but I never imagined it’d start to break down within five years.)
So now I was stuck. Do I get a new bag? Do I get the white box treatment? Do I get a dress preservation kit from a museum supplier, which are wonderful and recommended but do take up prime shelf space.
If you’re reading this it should come as no surprise that my answer to this problem was to develop a new product! Ha! A hanging wedding dress kit, a collection of garment-safe items to keep your dress safe on a hanger.
But enough about me and the Save the Dress stuff. This isn’t a sales pitch as much as it’s a ramble about preservation and material culture that I hope turns into a well-rounded conversation. I want to hear from you. Have you preserved your dress? Did you use a product that keeps your gown sealed away? Did you purchase a kit and DIY? Is your dress hanging out in the closet in a deteriorating plastic bag, waiting for you to make the next move? #NoJudgement Or maybe you did something else. Maybe you don’t even have your dress anymore. Whatever you’ve done (or not done), I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below or chime in on social media. Let’s chat!