There’s a fair bit of weirdness in the weeks ‘after the wedding’. You can stop pretending to care about favours, you can watch TV for hours at a time elbow deep in Doritos, you can actually enjoy EACH OTHER and you’ll generally just relax, which might feel like a whole new bodily sensation that has otherwise escaped you in preceding months.
One thing you will quickly realise though, especially if you don’t have a spare room to shove it in, is that you’re now the proud owner of a very expensive dress that you’ll more than likely never wear again. And it will inevitably be FILTHY.
I was surprised to find that even before the wedding people would ask me what I was going to do with my dress afterwards. Would I sell it? Keep it for late night drunken hoovering sessions? One day force a daughter to wear it? I didn’t know what I was going to do but I knew I cared enough about the dress to keep it in good nick – i.e I wasn’t one of those girls who’d happily let people spill drinks down it because it was essentially never going to be looked at again. I wanted the option of doing whatever I wanted with it.
Because of the sheer size of my dress, it was always going to get filthy on the bottom. I literally had metres of fabric dragging along the ground, so the underside of the train never stood a chance.
This is how the train looked all over….
…and that’s bearing in mind I never even wore this dress on the dance floor.
A few months before the wedding I’d been contacted by Miele WetCare to see if I wanted to try their wet cleaning service on an item of clothing I’d been putting off getting dry cleaned. I’ve never understood the dry cleaning process (do the clothes literally never get wet?!) but wet cleaning is billed as an environmentally friendly alternative that’s just as effective but without the harsh chemicals. I’d read that it’s particularly good for delicate fabrics, so I declined the offer of getting a boring old shirt cleaned and cheekily asked if I could really put the service to the test with my MASSIVE (but delicate!) wedding dress a few months later.
The truth is that I’m pretty ‘on it’ when it comes to dry cleaning, I get stuff dry cleaned a lot because I have a hideous fascination with silk dresses and shirts and having ruined one Issa dress in the washing machine (I’m still grieving) I’ve given in to the fact that a decent chunk of my earnings go on dry cleaning.
I don’t like dry cleaning though. I had a Pucci silk scarf ruined by a dry cleaners ten years ago and I’m still gutted about it, but my worst dry cleaning experience was with a Burberry trench which almost needed binning after a trip to the dry cleaners. It looked ok, sure, but it STANK. To the point where you couldn’t be in the same room as it. I had to air it outside for ages before covering it in Febreeze and perfume in a desperate attempt to get rid of the chemical smell that the dry cleaning process had left behind. It still smelt horrible, but now of a mixture of perfumes, lavender and deep regret – a smell that was preferable to the chemicals but only just. When you trust someone with a garment worth hundreds of pounds, you’re expecting it to come back in a better condition than you gave it to them in. Because if you thought there was any chance it would come back worse then, I dunno, you could have just WASHED IT YOURSELF, MAYBE?! (Yeah, I’m still livid about the Burbs).
Anyway, I was slightly petrified about trusting the most expensive dress I’d ever purchased to dry cleaning, so assumed wet cleaning could be the ideal starting point. I am always slightly cautious around environmentally friendly options as I am one of those hideous sceptics that believes cleaning needs to be harsh to be effective (does the washing machine REALLY work at 30 degrees?!) but I figured if the wet cleaning didn’t work I could just get it dry cleaned after. From what I’d read the wet cleaning couldn’t damage the dress, and this was what I was most worried about.
The Miele WetCare ‘technology’ isn’t huuuuuugely widely available yet, so my dress went on an exciting journey to Palmers Green where the lovely people at Olivia’s Cleaners took care of it.
I want to show you an after picture but basically, it came back perfect. Here’s a pic to sort of ‘prove it’…
…but I promise you – it looks pristine.
I didn’t want to get it all out of the plastic just to take snaps of ‘a clean dress’ as it’s nice and safe tucked up in its dress bag, but it could not have come back better. To the point where I actually think it’s cleaner now than when it left Pronovias as I’d obviously dirtied the underside a bit just trying it on in fittings and walking around the shop floor.
Granted, I didn’t pay for this service, but if I had it would have been £145. There isn’t a ‘set fee’, so that’s based on my dress being insanely big and very dirty. Prices will vary for everyone depending on where you get it done, how much fabric there is and what condition it’s in.
I know a lot of brides put off getting their dress cleaned – wet or dry! – because of the cost. But I was always going to get my dress cleaned sooner rather than later, because it’s easier to clean fresher stains. By leaving it months or years til you get around to cleaning your dress, you may have inadvertently made it too difficult to clean…or just more expensive to clean, which kinda defeats the purpose of putting it off. I’d factored in ‘cleaning costs’ to our original wedding budget and just saw it as part of the overall cost of the day (my spreadsheet was a bit mental though) and whilst there’s no joy in paying someone to clean something you’re not immediately going to wear for a night out, it’s worth doing if you want your dress to retain any value further than sentimental.
So now I have my perfectly clean dress, what next? I could sell it as it’s in perfect condition, but I don’t know if I could part with it that easily. I’ve read some girls say they sell them a few years down the line when they’re more ‘over it’, so I may do that I suppose.
Part of me wants to get it converted into a comically oversized christening dress for future bubbas a la Prince George…
A weirder part of me likes the idea of wearing it every anniversary like some sort of mentalist.
Then the veil, which is my favourite bit really, will never be sold and will hopefully become some sort of family heirloom?! Maybe not an heirloom, but I’ll definitely be keeping it safe.
Now that I’ve seen how good the results are of Miele WetCare I’m tempted to try some of my silk dresses with them, anything that keeps the chemical smells away and looks after spendy fabrics has got to be a winner in my book.
You can find your nearest Miele WetCare cleaner here.
What have you done with your wedding dress?
Read my other wedding posts here.