You just know when you find the perfect dress. It feels right, it looks right, and you can't wait to wear it. But before and after the wedding, your perfect dress needs special care - an expert, someone who specializes in caring for wedding gowns.

But How Do You Know Who Is An Expert?

If you are having your wedding gown pressed or cleaned before the wedding, ask lots of questions such as how many years the cleaner has been in business, how many wedding gowns the cleaner processes each year, and whether the cleaner is a member of a professional organization.

"My dress was a very delicate and fragile Vera Wang that cleaned like a dream--not a speck of dirt and carefully packaged. The cleaning process is safe, and the results are incredible."  P. D. Perth, Western Australia

If your gown is decorated with beads or other fragile things such as crystals or feathers, ask what steps the cleaner takes to protect them.

Be wary of the cleaner who claims to use an 'organic' solvent. Technically almost every solvent on the planet is organic, but if the solvent is truly earth-friendly, the cleaner will say that. Some cleaners who say they are green use nothing but water, which is fine for gowns made from artificial fiber but NOT for gowns made of silk. Water dissolves the sizing that gives silk gowns their special texture, and causes silk fibers to shift. Then your gown will always look wrinkled no matter how carefully it is pressed.

Even earth-friendly solvents generate carbon emissions, but carbon emissions can be offset to neutralize their bad effect on the environment. Whether your cleaner uses one of the "green" solvents or not, ask if he or she funds projects such as planting trees that can offset carbon emissions from the use of any solvent.

Many wedding gown specialists offer alterations, too. If your gown is a soiled sample or pre-owned gown that needs to be altered, be sure to have your gown cleaned before it is altered. Drycleaning is not supposed to shrink fabric, but it can happen. Better be safe than sorry!

After the wedding, your gown deserves a happy ever after, too. For a good preservation that will keep your gown from yellowing over time, you need three things: a clean dress, museum-quality storage materials, and a safe storage environment. When the dress is cleaned, ask the cleaner how he or she guards against latent stains. They are the sugary stains that dry clear such as champagne, white wine, and ginger ale, but the sugar does not dissolve in drycleaning fluid, and it turns brown over time.

Always ask to inspect the gown after it cleaned so you can see the results, and ask whether the tissue and the wedding chest in which your gown is packed are completely acid-free. Any materials that are not completely acid-free can scorch your gown.

Is there a guarantee that your gown will not yellow or have caramelized brown sugar stains? Most important of all, today or thirty years from today, who will honor the guarantee?

For more information visit the Association Of Wedding Gown Specialists

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