Civil liberties tend to have a more compelling sway over strict social conventions. Even the most sacred of these traditions (weddings) tend to bend a little to the preferences of couples – whether driven by practicality and/or personal touch. However, there is one particular occasion wherein certain traditions appeal to modern convenience.
Just like in the old days, there are soon-to-be-brides that opt to wear heirloom wedding gowns than buy one from luxury couture shops. By the middle of 2018, the average cost of a wedding gown is roughly $1,300. However, just consider the fact that this is just a grossly conservative figure. There is no shortage of outrageous spending over a ceremonial wardrobe.
Unfortunately, an outfit that has been imparted from one or several generations would accumulate its own share of blemishes. For this, American couples spend an average of $200 to more than $500 in order to dry clean a wedding dress. Two main factors affect both ends of the price spectrum.
One of the key factors affecting the wedding dress dry cleaning cost is the material being used in the process. On the part of paying customers, this means the type of fabric worn by the bride. On the part of the laundry service providers, this pertains to the chemical substance being used.
There are roughly seven traditional wedding dress fabrics popularly chosen by soon-to-be brides. And among these varieties of textile fiber, these are the wedding gown types that require specialized dry cleaning services:
- Wool (winter themed)
Curiously, the dry-cleaning industry in the United States has experienced a steady decline between the years 2017 and 2019. According to the IBIS World report, the number of businesses in the country within this timeframe dropped to 2.2 percent. Granted, there are many factors that determine this deterioration.
However, one of the possible aspects that truly hit closer to home in this context is the inability to adapt to new technological standards – especially in terms of implementing environmentally friendly alternatives. As it happens, conventional dry cleaning services still use a dangerous chemical substance called ‘perchloroethylene’ (or commonly called PERC).
According to the US Occupational Safety and Human Safety Agency (OSHA), PERC is defined as a neurotoxin. Possible underlined short-term effects from this exposure include dizziness, loss of coordination, and blurred vision. Long-term exposure leads to memory loss. The American Cancer Society also includes lymphomas and growth of malignant cells in the esophagus, kidney, cervix, and bladder in the list of prolonged contact.
Tip: Nearly every wedding gown variety made from luxury boutiques is spun from the following aforementioned four textile fibers. It is for this reason that wedding outfits immediately fall under the dry cleaning category. However, it is possible to slightly reduce the negotiable rate if the wedding gown in question is more lightweight since it is more time-consuming to dry clean a denser fabric.
Tip: It pays to know how conventional dry cleaning can pose health risks not only to the workers but also to customers – especially the brides who decide to have their wedding dresses tidied prior to their ceremony. Seeking the services of ‘eco-friendly’ professional restorers (also known as green dry cleaners) that uses hazard-free solvents adds greater value for that investment.
Another important aspect that affects the wedding gown cleaning price is the complexity of the problem directly associated with the dry cleaning process itself. There are two key issues to consider in this respect: the wedding dress design and the degree of blemish on the fabric. Either could hike up the price marginally, and both could do so exponentially.
Strangely, some of the most horrific stains are those that are practically invisible in the naked eye. Liquids like champagne or anything saturated with sugar (alcohol) seemed harmless when it touches the fabric. In six months time, however, this fluid will oxidize and form into a stark gruesome russet blot. One can never know until then how much white wine has been spilled.
Even without spilling over it, there is still no guarantee that the wedding dress will still remain stain-free. Those who still plan to reuse the wedding dress as an heirloom for a prospective future bride must remember that the exact manner in which the gown is stored and handled is crucial for avoiding dust accumulation, mildew, fading, or ‘yellowing’ of white fabric.
If the stains are bad enough on plain exposed fabric, it can get a lot worse in areas that are lined or filled with ornaments. Some wedding dress designs are so intricate that they prove to be an obstacle in terms of thorough cleanup. In extreme cases, it becomes a bitter choice between dislodged sparkling beads and glaringly faded spots.
Tip: One of the best ways to reduce the overall cost of wedding dress dry cleaning is to choose a simple design. Small ornaments (e.g. beads) are among the first casualties of the ‘wear-and-tear’ trend. Some service providers might flat out ask for extra fees for restoration in case of the damages accrued during the dry cleaning process.
Tip: As mentioned earlier, invisible liquid stains will end up coloring the wedding dress in half a year’s time. But there are even cases wherein blemishes will start to manifest much earlier as other factors (like heat) can accelerate the process of oxidation. The rule of thumb most preservation experts would advice is to start the dry cleaning before six weeks.
Tip: It also pays to notice and keep in mind the labels tagged onto the wedding dress. Some of these markers provide key instructions on how to handle and preserve the luxurious wardrobe. Hence, they also give clues on choosing a specific dry cleaning shop that can provide such specific care. For instance, a dress label that says “Dry clean only with liquid silicone” must never be sanitized in any of the five other methods.
Tip: In terms of storing the wedding dress after use, it is crucial for one to choose a container that is PH-neutral or acid-free to prevent an unwanted discoloration. It is also important to refrain from hanging the wedding dress at extensive durations to avoid straining the fabric. Exposure to both air and sunlight will also build up dust and fade the color (respectively).