Nothing completes your dream wedding dress like a gorgeous veil. "Without the veil, the bride is simply a beautiful girl in a beautiful gown," says Stephanie Caravella, Associate Vice President at Bel Aire Bridal. "The history of the veil is important as well—many who lived in Ancient Greece and Rome believed that a veil kept evil spirits away from the bride."
Whether you believe a veil is a good luck charm or just a beautiful addition to your bridal look, you should make every attempt to preserve it. And to insure no one ends up with a torn, burnt, or yellowed headpiece, we consulted with Jennifer Judd, co-owner of Heritage Garment Preservation, one of the nation's top heirloom garment preservationists (look at the amazing work they did on the vintage 45-year-old veil below—it looks like new!).
The first thing we learned: you should preserve your veil (and dress) as soon as possible. "If not cleaned and stored correctly, it discolors and weakens over time," says Judd. Heritage, like most other preservationists, often preserve the veil and gown together. The service costs $250-400, depending on the gown's fabric and intricacy of its embellishments.
To preserve your gown and veil, you can either store it in an archival safe acid and lignin-free box and tissue or hang your items in a 100% cotton bag. "The hanging method allows the gown and veil fabric to breath, reducing the risk of yellowing, permanent creases, and mold that are commonly found in sealed box preserved gowns/veils," Judd says. If you do decide to go the boxed route, "It is very important to use acid and lignin-free tissue and boxes," Judd says. "Some paper materials contain acid and this, over time, can damage fabric and veil material."
If you're more of a DIY girl (and don't want to spend a couple of hundred dollars), you can clean and store your veil yourself. The less embellished your veil, the easier it will be to safely preserve at home. If your veil is very dirty, Judd suggests using a mild detergent in a sink, rinsing your veil well, and hanging it to dry. If needed, you can also use a very low-temperature iron to press the veil. Finish by wrapping your keepsake in acid and lignin-free tissue and placing it in an archival box or bag purchased from a company that specializes in restoring garments (Heritage's do-it-yourself preservation kits cost around $100).
But the most important aspect of preservation is where you store your garments. "If you put it up in the attic, down in a basement, or out in the garage, it will damage the veil over time," Judd says. "The best place to store it is in a climate-controlled area (like under a bed or hanging in a closet) to insure it will last for generations to come."