Radio Interview Transcript

ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the Wedding Details Radio brought to you by  Sally Lorensen Conant, PhD, of Orange Restoration Labs, and the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. Sally, you know every bride wishes her wedding day could last forever. So where can a bride find an Association to preserve the gown? Now here’s your host, Damien Allen. 

DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to Wedding Details Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and today joining me on the phone
SALLY: Well we have a very fine wedding website which is called and if you go to our website, you’ll click on “find a specialist near you” a map of the United States comes up and Canada as well, and you can then click on whatever province or state you are in and the name of the member or members in some cases will come up, and you can find the information for contacting them there.
DAMIEN: What are the goals of the Associations?
SALLY: We try to provide brides with a really reliable, trustworthy source of gown cleaning and preservation. There are lots of people who will take your wedding gown if you’re a bride and then after that things may not go so well. People who specialize in gown cleaning and preservation, as all of our members do, do so many dresses every year that they’ve seen the kinds of problems that can happen, and they know how to take care so they don’t have those kinds of problems. It’s not that other cleaners are bad cleaners or that they are bad people, it’s just that often they haven’t had that much experience with gowns and they tend to take short cuts or do other things that aren’t the best care for a wedding gowns, and of course, once something happens to a gown it can never be replaced. You’re not going to get married in that moment again in the same dress.
DAMIEN:  What is the benefit of being in an Association for the members and for the consumers?
SALLY: Well for the members, the benefits are that we are very well known. We show our weddings chests and other kinds of the things about us at the bridal markets in Chicago and New York where bridal shops look for dresses from designers. Designers sew our care labels into their dresses, and we do a lot of other kinds of promotions that get our brand to be well knows. So that’s a benefit for the member of the association that more brides are going to find them, because they are members of the Association. For brides, the benefit is that it is a trustworthy source and we have something rather unique in the industry. If I clean and preserve a gown at my company here in Connecticut which is Orange Restoration Labs and the bride moves to let’s say California any one of our members in California will take the dress out of the wedding chest years from now and press it at no charge, and if something goes wrong that person in California, that member in California, would honor the guarantee the same as I would if she had brought it back to me in Connecticut and that is unique in the industry. Nobody else does that. And so it’s kind of a worldwide guarantee in that our members are located throughout the United States and Canada and also in Mexico and in Ecuador. 
DAMIEN: What are some easy steps a bride can do to help preserve her gown?
SALLY: Well probably the best thing brides can do is take their dresses promptly to someone to be cleaned. The longer the stain stay in the dress, the harder it is to remove it. I’ve seen statistics that 99% of stains can be removed within the first 24 hours and then the percentages possibility of removing all of the stain goes down as time passes. On the other hand, if it is not a very particularly complicated stain, it’s just the kind of normal floor dirt, that is not usually a problem and brides don’t have to worry that the minute they take the dress off they have to run to the nearest specialist. Go on the honeymoon, enjoy the honeymoon. The only time we really get excited about time lapse in terms of dresses that have stains is if it is mud or if it is red wine. Both of those things are extremely difficult to remove especially on silk gowns, because they act like dyes.
DAMIEN: Can a preservationist remove any type of stain?
SALLY: I would say that about 90% of the stains will come out for sure, and usually we can tell you ahead of time. If a bride brings me a dress with mud or if she brings it to me with red wine, I can usually tell by looking, because we do so many dresses, I can tell by looking whether or not I’m going to be able to get that out, and if I can’t I’ll tell her up front that this may be one of those cases where it’s simply best efforts and I can’t promise her a perfect result.
DAMIEN: What if a bride has waited months or years before preservation, is it too late?
SALLY: No, not necessarily. Occasionally there is a dress that has been left so long that it’s no longer cleanable in that sense, but we can always do a restoration. There is a difference between dry cleaning and restoration. Dry cleaning is literally that. We use chemicals to dissolve the stains and then we put the dress into a dry cleaning machine with a dry side solvent in it that rinses out all the chemicals that we have used. Restoration is a water based process and the difference between the two is basically the number of years the stains have been sitting. If you are talking about four or five years, even seven sometimes, we can probably get the stain out without doing anything heroic, but once you get past that threshold, then you are probably talking about a restoration and our members do lots of those. People like to where their mothers or their grandmothers dress, and we have this process that we can use to get things back to the color they were originally and that does take out all of the stains that are in the dress. I’m working now on a dress that is 110 years old. It’s a gorgeous, cotton lace and has been worn by 8 brides before the woman who is going to wear it now.
DAMIEN: What if the gown is made with lots of pearls and crystalSALLY: can a gown be restored?
SALLY: Well you’re probably wanting to know if it can be preserved rather than restored. Restoration, again, is a process you use on a dress that is very old and has already yellowed and discolored badly. Preservation is when a dress is relatively new, and we clean it and put it into a wedding chest that will preserve the color of the gown. Pearls and crystals don’t have to be that difficult. Crystals, especially, are very cleaning safe, if you will, or solvent safe. Pearls are a different issue. Some pearls are natural pearls. Some pearls are made out of poly-styrene and those pearls can dissolve in the dry cleaning solvent; however, a good cleaner will test the pearl before he tries to clean the dress and will know whether or not it’s going to be safe to clean the dress. As a rule of thumb, we suggest that brides use, well I should…this is getting very technical, as they say on tv, it’s getting down into the weeds, but procoethelyne is the solvent that most cleaners use, and procoethelyne, especially, is aggressive and can melt pearls, but there is another solvent that a lot of drycleaners use which is called petroleum, and we always put on our care labels that brides should try to find someone with petroleum, because petroleum isn’t that aggressive and it is safe for pearls.
DAMIEN: Now there is a lot of other materials that are use either in the dresses or the materials that are associated with your wedding. What is an acid free paper?
SALLY: Regular paper is acidic and it is acidic because ligament is a component of trees and so the vary component of trees from which you make paper is already acidic. Then they add acid to the process when they are making paper so when regular paper and ordinary boxes are completed, they are loaded with acid and if you put a dress in ordinary paper or an ordinary box, the acid and the content of the paper in the box literally scorches the dress the same way it would if you had an iron that you set too long on a piece of fabric. So that’s why you want to be sure that the paper and the wedding chest in which your gown is placed is either ph neutral or acid free and acid free is much better, because ph neutral means that the acidic content of the paper or the paper board was neutralized when it was manufactured, but the neutralizer is water soluble so if that wedding chest or paper gets involved with water or if it is in a very, moist humid area, then eventually the neutralize dissolves and the paper becomes acidic again and you still have the problem of scorching the dress. That’s why you are much better off to make sure that the paper that touches your dress and the wedding chest in which your dress is stored is completely acid free. They remove all of the acidic content of the tree pulp and of the paper and all of the acid that is used during the manufacturing process, completely, and that way you have a completely acid free paper and paper board and it can’t re-acidify no matter how long or how damp the area in which the dress is going to sit.
DAMIEN: Do you do other types of special occasion dresses?
SALLY: We all do. Lot’s of us do continuous dresses and we do mother of the bride dresses, and communion dresses, pretty much anything that has to do with fabric, because once you are involved with a wedding gown which requires very special treatment, you can apply those same principals of care to any other kind of specialty dress or family gown that someone wants to have cleaned.
DAMIEN: What is the pitfalls of not having a gown preserved properly?
SALLY: If you do nothing with your dress; if you just hang it up, it will turn yellow. There’s no doubt about it, and all of the things you didn’t see the day of the wedding are going to impact. For example if you spill white wine or ginger ale or even cake on your dress, it does stain the dress, but you don’t necessarily see it, because it often dries clear. Over the years the heat and the time in which the sugar in those things sits in the gown, caramelizes the sugar and those stains turn brown. I have had several brides come to me with dresses that are 3 or 4 years old, and open up the bag and say, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t know it was this dirty.” But what they didn’t know was that the day they took it off, or the day they hung it up, it looked alright, but after a few years time then the sugar content in those stains caramelizes and then turns brown and makes it look as though you spilled coffee or tee or something awful which is not the case. It is simply the sugar that has caramelized.
DAMIEN: Where can brides find a wedding gown preservationist and what should a bride be looking for to find a reputable association member?
SALLY: We like to think all of our members are reputable, and if they are not I want to hear about it, because we don’t want them as members any more if they are not reputable. If you go to our website, again which is and click on “gown care tips” then you’ll find a list of things that you should do in terms of your gown. One of them, of course, is to hang the dress by the loops of it inside it rather than by the shoulder seems or just by the dress itself, because the dress will stretch or sag, and you should always avoid storing your gown in plastic bags, because the plastic itself is going to yellow the dress, and then when you get to the person you think you would like to have clean your gown, ask them what kind of things are they going to do to protect the pearls and the crystals on the dress and how the cleaner is going to guard against those latent stains I was talking about that can caramelize. And then I think it’s very important to choose someone who is going to personally process your gown. You’ll see lots of signs all across the country in dry cleaner shops that say, “Wedding Gown Preservation”, but when you go in and ask you’ll probably find out that they are not doing their own work. Very few cleaners do their own work when it comes to wedding gown preservation. They often send them away, and I think it’s important to work directly with the person who is going to process your gown. And yet another thing to do is ask to inspect the gown after it has been cleaned before they put it into the wedding chest. That way you’ll know that everything is in good order before it goes into that chest and if they are the kind of shop that seals that the container, your dress is clean and you know what is going on inside that container. And the last thing is to be sure that you do not store your gown in the attic or in the basement, because attics are too hot and basements are damp and if a price breaks it is a law that the water will find your dress.
DAMIEN: Thank you very much for joining us today, Sally, and sharing all of this wonderful information on how to preserve your dress and where to go.
SALLY: You’re very welcome, and I’m glad I can be of help. I do answer all of my emails if anyone who is looking at our website would like to ask me a question or needs more information, I’d be very happy to answer any kind of an email. You can click on “contact us”, and I’ll get back to you within the same day.
DAMIEN: We are please to announce that Sally Conant is one of our resident experts for and you can go there and link into Sally’s site and listen to her common-sense advise and visit the Association's website for special tips, to keep your gown looking great throughout the years at You can also send Sally with your gown questions here: info@weddinggownspecialists.comYou have been listening to Wedding Details Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everybody have a great afternoon.
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