How to Protect the Bottom of Your Dress at an Outdoor Wedding

A few simple tips to help preserve your dress

wedding dress outside


Saying "I do" outdoors? Then you'll definitely be getting down and dirty on your wedding day in more ways than one. No bride-to-be wants a muddy wedding gown. You can, however, avoid ruining your dress by putting these expert tips to use.

Purchase an Underskirt

It won't cost you a fortune and, in fact, will likely save you from all sorts of unsightly stains (think grass, wet asphalt, dirt, etc.) that are bound to occur during outdoor pre-wedding festivities. An underskirt or slip—worn under your wedding gown to gently lift the hem off the ground—works for relatively stationary photo shoots or en route to the site where the photos are to be taken, says Margaret Butler of Dublin Cleaners in Columbus, Ohio. This way, your dress can at least remain somewhat pristine until the ceremony begins.

Use a Sheet

If you're in a pinch and didn't plan ahead by purchasing an underskirt, you can wrap a sheet around the bottom of your gown instead, says Sally Conant, executive director of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. "Moreover, if your photographer is shooting outdoors, he or she might also cover the area with a sheet or something else to protect the dress."

Bustle Up

"Having a seamstress install a secure bustle will help with ordinary movement and dancing," Butler says. Ideally, the bustle should lift your dress far enough off the ground that soil isn't an issue.

Conant advises, "In practice, bustle loops often break so it's a good idea to attach some safety pins to the underside of your gown in case of an emergency."

Make It a Team Effort

In other words, get by with a little help from your friends. Terry Hall, head of retail and business development at Amsale, recommends holding up the bottom of your gown, especially when walking outdoors. "Don't forget to utilize your bridesmaids too. They can help lift the dress or carry your train as needed," he says.

Remove Your Shoes

Rocking a wedding gown with a tulle bottom or other delicate fabric? Hall strongly suggests removing your shoes before putting the dress on or taking it off. Duly noted.

Spray the Hem

According to Conant, 3M makes a Scotchgard Fabric Protector spray that can be used to prevent your gown from getting dirty. "There are a few cleaners who offer this service as well," she says. "The trick is to spray the hem enough to protect it without leaving a line between the part of the gown that has been sprayed and the part that hasn't." When in doubt, leave it up to the professionals to avoid misusing the product.

Try to Be Careful

But not so careful that you can't have any fun, of course. "We caution brides before the wedding about asphalt, concrete (stains, abrasions), and black dyed mulch stains," Butler says. Err on the side of caution by avoiding puddles or other problematic areas. Most importantly though, remember that the idea is to wear the dress, be comfortable, and experience every moment of the day as it comes, Hall says. "It's going to be a challenge to keep the dress perfect, and that's perfectly okay. After all, there aren't many stains that a dry cleaner can't get out."

Related Stories