Wedding Dress Cleaning Racket

So we’ve had this thing in a bag. It’s been in a bag since it was stuffed in there on the morning of July 20, 2003. This thing is Jenn’s wedding dress. It has been in the bag every since, transported from Maine back to Oklahoma by the good graces of my sister where we picked it up and took it home to Texas. It has since moved, twice, in the same bag to Atlanta and then to Marietta. It hasn’t been looked at since.

We’ve discussed the thing in the bag several times in the last seven years, saying that we really should do something about it. Well, I’m doing something about it. We’re getting the blasted thing cleaned and boxed for preservation.1

I called around to a few places today to see what the nominal charge would be for a wedding dress cleaning and boxing. Everyone on the phone was very nice to me but ladled lots of caveats over the conversation by saying that wedding dress cleaning cost has a floor but no ceiling depending on the complexity of the dress. This makes sense, however I was just trying to get some idea so if they would give me a ballpark estimate, I would be most grateful.

Here is an almost verbatim conversation from the first place I called:

Me: “So if you could just ballpark the cost for me, I’d really appreciate it.”
Them: “Cleaning and preservation starts at $450″
Me: BOOM!
Them: “Are you ok?”
Me: BOOM!
Them: “Sir?”
Me: “I’m sorry, but my head just exploded.”

Wow. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap, but $450 is a significant fraction (I think something like 2/3) of the original cost of the dress. Holy SHIT! leaps to mind. Thankfully, the place I called first was apparently the top end. That’s what I get for calling the place in Dunwoody first. Others were more what I sort of had in mind, ranging from $175 up to $300.

The lesson here, for me at least, is that wedding dress cleaning and preservation should be built into the cost of the wedding, if not the dress itself. Bridal shops should make that a value-added service. If nothing else, it would keep their dress from being stuff in a bag for seven years.


1: I said to Jenn, “We’re either getting in cleaned or getting rid of it.” She said, “Cleaned.” Very good.

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3 Responses to Wedding Dress Cleaning Racket

  1. annie says:

    Actually, many boutiques include the cost of cleaning & preservation in the cost of the dress. Or at least charge you for it when purchasing the dress (so it can be counted in the cost of the overall wedding).

    Of course, you may also want to ask about the preservation process & whether it requires an additional reversal process (at additional cost) before the dress can be worn again.

    Of course, once you have the dress cleaned, you’ll be the proud owners of a thing in a box.

    When I bought my dress in ’96, it included the preservation fee. I now have a preserved dress in a box that will require a preservation reversal process if anyone ever wants to wear the dress. I’m not certain, but I think that reversal cost is covered (if I use the same company that did the preservation – and I’m not even sure if they’re still in business).

    Wait another 7 years, and then you’ll be wondering what to do with the thing in the box. It’s where I currently am.

  2. Bill Ruhsam says:

    I had a number of different quotes from 5 different vendors. My next step is to find out what exactly is the difference between $450 and $160 when it comes to the preservation. I imagine it’s something like you mentioned, Annie.

  3. David says:

    FYI, any good or service with the word, “wedding,” in it gets an instant mad markup. (Putting “wedding” in front of “gig” is how most classical musicians can afford to eat.) So it’s no surprise.

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