Weddings aren’t cheap, or at least not according to the most recent statistics. According to recent data the average wedding in the US costs about $26,000 (between $20k – $33k). Some will cost substantially less and some will cost substantial more. Either way it is no small amount of money. When you factor all those upfront expenses that go into the cost of the average wedding, you might find yourself wondering how much after-wedding activities will tack onto the price tag. There’s the honeymoon, thank you notes and postage, final balances of your professional photos and video, having your wedding dress cleaned, just to name a few. Well we’ve got you covered when it comes to wedding dress cleaning and preservation. We are going to walk you through the ins and outs of the process.

Wedding Dress Preservation

How Much Does Wedding Dress Cleaning Cost?

The price for wedding dress cleaning varies from region to region and from company to company. Straight cleaning of a gown without preservation techniques typically cost between $180 and $350, depending on the company and the type of cleaning that is involved, as well as where you live and whether or not your dress is being cleaned locally. Those who choose to go through the bridal salon where they purchased the dress may pay a slight premium, as salons acts as a middle man and take a mark up.

Cleaning and preservation can get slightly more expensive, ranging from $250 – $1000, depending on the company you use, the amount of insurance coverage you want (applies mainly to mail order services), any accessories you want preserved with your wedding dress, and how you want the dress stored for safe keeping. Brides who are looking for basic quality cleaning and preservation, with their dress preserved in a quality acid free preservation chest, should expect to spend between $250 and $600. For more premium priced services, you can expect to pay approximately $270 – 1,000. Again, prices can vary considerably depending on the region and the company you are using for the cleaning and preservation.

What is Included in the Price Tag?

What you get for the price will depend almost entirely on the company you are using. Almost all preservation services also include the cost of cleaning your wedding gown and packaging it in an acid-free cardboard preservation chest with a viewing window. If you are sending in your wedding dress you’ll want to find out if they offer insurance in the price or if you have to pay extra for insurance. Insurance coverage provides financial protection should anything happen to your wedding gown between the time you send it in through the time you receive it back. In the very rare instance your gown is lost or damaged, you are covered depending on the amount of insurance you purchased or is included. Although many people feel nervous about sending off their gown in the mail, it is actually very safe. Most companies send you a prepaid shipping label for UPS or FedEx and everything is tracked. Since wedding dresses are so personal to each individual no one really wants to steal a wedding dress. It’s a very convenient option if you go that route.

As far as other costs, the base price may or may not include any accessories, such as your veil, garter or handkerchief, so you’ll want to check on that as well. If you decide to send in your wedding dress, you’ll want to find out if shipping is included or extra. You’ll also want to find out what their guarantee policy is as far as if the gown yellows over time, or if you are dissatisfied with the cleaning. You really don’t need a lifetime guarantee – 100 year guarantee is more than adequate coverage.

Does Price Equal Quality?

Don’t be fooled by the price. Price does not always equal quality. There are some very affordable companies that are very reputable and have been in business for over 100 years that do beautiful work. It is a good idea to do research on a company’s reputation. Check reviews by other brides on reputable sites with real customer reviews like Wedding Wire or The Knot.

If you are planning to use a local company or cleaners it is a good idea to ask whether wedding dress cleaning takes place on premises or if they send their items off to a third party. Often times, a small cleaner will send wedding dresses out to companies who are better equipped to deal with the entire process and delicate fabrics, but this can make communication about where your dress is and how long it will take to complete a bit difficult. Going directly to the source, or a company that specializes in wedding dress cleaning, often gives you better results at a much better price point.

How Much Will Extras Cost?

This all depends on what you are looking to add to your package and the company. If you want other items preserved and cleaned, such as your shoes, there will likely be an additional expense. Some companies, like the Affordable Preservation Company, offer up to 5 accessories free of charge (veil, garter, handkerchief, small purse, gloves, ring pillow, shawl), but charge around $25 for cleaning fabric covered shoes or a detached petticoat. Other companies add additional items on an ‘a la carte’ basis and charge anywhere from $20 – $50 for each accessory. For the companies that charge extra, adding in a veil can raise the cost, but for many brides it is worth the additional investment to have the entire ensemble preserved for prosperity.

Some brides find that they want their wedding gown preserved in a way that makes it into a work of art for their home. In this case, many are starting to opt to use a shadowbox. In this process the gown is cleaned and preserved, then packed into a shadowbox that can be hung onto the wall. This type of preservation can get very expensive, but the entire process turns your dress into a piece of art for your home. You will likely need to have your gown cleaned and preserved first and then find a shadow box company as most companies who offer wedding dress cleaning and preservation do not offer shadowboxes.

Another popular option some companies offer is a touch of personalization. You can add a picture of you in your wedding dress, your names and wedding date to your wedding dress preservation chest. That way you can immediately remember what you looked like in your dress without getting out your entire wedding album. The cost for full personalization is usually between $30 to $60 depending if you just want your wedding date included, or if you want your names, wedding date and a photo.

Whether you are planning a $50,000 shindig or a $5,000 bash, you in your beautiful wedding dress are the star of the show, and preserving it for years to come is certainly worth shelling out a little extra green.

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