November 15, 2018

How to Handle Wedding Gown Stains on the Wedding Day

If you’re wondering how to handle wedding gown stains that occur during your actual wedding, guest blogger Kacey Bradley has you covered. Below she’s talking about her top strategies for making sure you’re fully prepared in case of a spill. Don’t worry too much about little spots though, like walking around on the grass. I’ve seen too many brides back out of amazing portrait opportunities just to prevent the bottom of the dress from getting slightly dirty. Everything is a balance, so definitely keep your dress clean but don’t sweat the small stuff!

How to Handle Wedding Gown Stains on the Wedding Day, how to prevent spills and stains on your wedding dress 

How to Handle Wedding Gown Stains

You managed to pull together a beautiful wedding that suits you and your partner, but you realize no wedding goes perfectly. You worry the caterer will be abducted by aliens, or someone will kidnap your officiant — hey, it could happen.

Mostly, the bride tends to worry about the little details, and potential stains are the worst offender. Prevention is key, but you also need to come prepared with a wedding survival kit in case you need to get specific stains out of your dream dress.

Upper Lawn at Weddings at The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe, Film photographer Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Follow the Usual Prevention Tips

On the big day, get your face on first along with your hair products. Cover your face with a silk cloth to protect your makeup and the gown as you step into it. Stick with water if you get thirsty, and consume food and staining beverages before you slip into your wedding dress.

Bridal party portrait with chairs, Westgate Hotel Wedding in Downtown San Diego, film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Prepare Your Wedding Survival Stain Kit

Gather emergency stain removal supplies a few weeks before your wedding. In a small tote bag, include the following:

  • White cotton towels or cloths
  • White or off-white chalk
  • Cornstarch or baby powder
  • Stain-removal wipes or pens
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Double-sided tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Safety pins
  • Bridesmaid and wedding dress-colored threads and needles
  • Worst-case scenario: lace appliques, beads, brooches and other stain-hiding elements

Bride and groom portrait with Pink peach violet and white bridal bouquet, Wedding at Estancia La Jolla, Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Quick Fixes for Wedding Gown Stains

The first approach to treating a wedding gown stain is to not add to the harm. Don’t scrub or rub away at the stain, because the abrasive action drives the stain deeper into the fabric and can pull at threads. Instead, blot the moisture with a white towel, but you can’t blot oily stains — use baby powder first to absorb the oil. Use a blunt knife to gently lift solids stuck to the fabric. Cotton swabs help apply cleaning mixes to prevent oversaturation. Repeat blotting for effectiveness.

Those are the general rules of thumb when it comes to treating stains, but how do you treat things like grease or ink? Here are a few tips for handling specific stains on wedding gowns:

  • Man-Made Fibers: Treating stains on man-made fabrics, such as polyester, proves easier for removal than from satin or silk. Before using a stain-removal wipe or stick, spot test the product on the underside of the hem to see how it affects the fabric and color. When using a hair dryer, keep it at a low setting 6 inches from the spot.
  • Silk: Never spot treat silk. Also, remember that silk will dissolve in chlorine bleach. If the item isn’t dry clean only, dab a little detergent on the spot and massage with your fingers. Let it sit for 15 minutes before hand washing with cold water only, for basic stains.
  • Red Wine: Blot the stain for absorption with a white cloth or towels. Paper towels work in a pinch. Soak a white cloth in warm water, and dab it gently on the outside of the stain toward the middle. Cover the remaining stain with baby powder or chalk.
  • Oily Grease or Food: Grease stains may be a challenge to get out of furniture, but there is a remedy to remove them. First, thickly layer baby powder on the stain to absorb the oil and leave it for 15 minutes. Dab a cotton swab in rubbing oil and blot from the edges of the stain toward the middle. Cover any remnants of the stain with baby powder. You can then brush the area off with a clean cloth, and the oil stain should be gone.
  • Ink: Use a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol on it to dab from the outside of the stain inward. Change the swab as often as you need, as the ink gets transferred. Blot the spot with a white cloth to continue to absorb the ink. Cover the stain remnants with baby powder or chalk.
  • Makeup or Lipstick: Dab at the stain with a removal wipe or marker. Cover what remains with baby powder.
  • Blood: Use cool water to blot at the stain from the outer edges toward the center. Blot dry.

San Diego bridal portraits at a private estate, Bride in Marchesa Daffodil gown, Bridal bouquet with apricot peach blush pink and green, Film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Last-Minute Hacks for Wedding Gowns

You dabbed and blotted for as long as possible, but you got stuck with a stubborn stain and the situation feels impossible to fix. You have precious few remaining moments to wait and see.

It’s time to bring out your grandmother’s brooch to pin to your gown for something old. The stain can be something unfortunately new — but fortunately hidden. Lace appliques, added beading and sequins can hide stains and personalize your dress with quick attention.

Got a rip? Break out the fabric glue and tape, or the super glue or double-sided tape, to seal the rip. Safety pins classically rescue a rogue button or strap. Rub sticky zipper teeth with a candle or bar of soap for lubrication that won’t stain your dress.

No one notices the stain as much as the person wearing it. With a few quick fixes and hacks, your dress will still be perfectly yours and magnificent for the big day.

Bride and groom at Whispering Rose Ranch wedding with Marchesa gown shot on film, Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

About the Author

Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Ruffled, and more!

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!