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Preserve more than your wedding moments

After the vows have been exchanged, confetti thrown, and the pictures marveled at, it would be a shame if the once admired wedding gown would be just kept in the box and shoved in the closet. It’s even worse with the flowers because most wedding bouquets will only last a day or two at the most.  Due to our tropical climate where humidity is a killer and because technology has not been sufficiently updated, most Filipina brides have not been as fortunate as their Western counterparts.  Brides in the U.S. and in places where humidity is not a factor are able to have their bouquets and gowns “preserved.”  Well, the good news is that this no longer holds true.  Thanks to The Bridal Conservatory, bridal bouquets and wedding fine apparel can now be preserved using the best and most current technology available in the market.

Melissa Arrieta-Jadwani is the person behind the Bridal Conservatory.  Having been a bride herself, she realized, as most brides will do, that there was no one in the Philippines who could preserve her bouquet.  So she set up the company The Flower Conservatory and after two years of successful business, expanded it to include wedding gown preservation as well.  The company has since been renamed and its services appreciated not only by brides but by professional florists and couturier as well. 

I met with Melissa to find out the full extent of the preservation her company does and was quite impressed.  Being knowledgeable about what is being done in the U.S., I was happy to note that the Bridal Conservatory is up to par in its methods and techniques.  As Melissa herself said, “We use techniques developed during years of work with museum professionals in the U.S. and we combine this knowledge with over 50 years of professional garment-care experience to make sure a bride’s wedding gown receives the same detailed attention given to exhibition couture and museum dress collections.”  In short, a bride’s wedding gown will be cleaned and preserved in the same manner as Princess Diana’s gowns (or any other celebrity) when it went on exhibition and auction!

What is actually done to preserve the gown? The Bridal Conservatory uses four methods of fabric conservation:

• Inspection followed by analysis, is first done on the gown.  Measurements are taken; fabric, dyes, and weaves analyzed; and all ornamentation noted.  This is performed in order to determine which preservation technique should be done on it and that the end product is exactly the same as its original state.

• Testing and special treatment must be next done on the gown to find out what must be removed or cleaned and what is the best possible way to do it.  A written treatment plan is devised after identifying the stains and spills (even those not visible to the eye!) such as makeup, wine, wedding cake, and even perspiration.  All of these affect the fabric differently and must be treated and cleaned separately.  This treatment prevents fabric deterioration and eliminates stains without causing harm to the fabric.

• Cleansing is finally done using only the appropriate dry cleaning solutions to ensure that beads don’t melt or discolor and fabrics don’t shrink or fade.

• Preservation is the last but not the least method done in conserving the wedding gown.  Correct packing is vital if the gown is to last not only years but decades.  The gown or dress is folded and fit into a bodice mold that protects it from breaking and deformation.  It is then packed into a clear, chemically stable polymer bag resistant to water, humidity, mildew, insects, and strong light.  The bag is flushed with a special gas to eliminate oxidation and the presence of any moisture and then sealed tight.  The sealed package is placed into an archival box that will protect it from excessive light, dust, and accidental puncture to the contents inside.

Whew! All of this for just one dress! But as Melissa aptly tells me, when it’s the dress of your dreams, wouldn’t you want to make it last a lifetime?  Since the answer is a definite yes, I take this opportunity to suggest that any bride (or debutante) who may want to avail of the services of the Bridal Conservatory should call them at 211-1286.  You can also visit their website at www.thebridalconservatory.com.

P.S. For the info on flower preservation, you’ll just have to check out this column in the next few weeks since that story is a totally different ballgame!

Fel Maragay

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