Protect the investment

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You wouldn't throw $1,056 out the window -- not even if you're a deliriously happy newlywed, right?

Maritzabel Uzuriaga and  Joseph Hallak wear white gloves as they prepare a cleaned wedding dress for boxing at his Hallak Cleaners Friday, May 30, 2008, in Hackensack, N.J.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)  Associated Press
Associated Press
Maritzabel Uzuriaga and Joseph Hallak wear white gloves as they prepare a cleaned wedding dress for boxing at his Hallak Cleaners Friday, May 30, 2008, in Hackensack, N.J.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

That was the average gown price in the 2006 American Wedding Study, the most recent survey available by Brides magazine. Many of those gowns don't get cleaned, thus diminishing their chances of being worn again.

"Brides don't skimp on their gowns, but they don't understand that they're not protecting their investment if they don't clean them," said Joe Hallak, co-owner of the Hallak Cleaners in New York and New Jersey. "They'll wait two, three, four, five years before they start asking about cleaning, but the problem is some of the stains have started to oxidize."

A wedding dress doesn't have to go to the cleaners straight from the reception hall; taking it in within a few weeks would do.

The most common stain on wedding dresses is wine, according to Mr. Hallak and his brother and business partner, John Hallak. White wine and champagne are just as damaging as red wine over time.

The typical cleaning involves spot cleaning, machine cleaning and steam cleaning. Then gowns are pressed and put into a box to help control humidity.

They recommend that, after the gown is in its box, you shift it around slightly every few years so certain parts don't fade or develop permanent creases. Wear rubber gloves, because fingers are greasier than you'd think, they say.


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