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How To Protect The Bottom Of Your Dress At An Outdoor Wedding

Saying "I do" outdoors? While there's no surefire way to keep the bottom of your wedding gown squeaky clean, you can prevent totally trashing your dress by putting these expert-endorsed tips into practice.
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by Elizabeth Mitchell, BRIDES

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Marko MacPherson/Courtesy of CNP Montrose

Saying "I do" outdoors? Then you'll definitely be getting down and dirty on your wedding day in more ways than one! For now, let's just focus on the whole protecting your dress part though. While there's no surefire way to keep the bottom of your wedding gown squeaky clean, you can prevent totally trashing your dress by putting these expert-endorsed tips into practice.

Buy a Bridal Petticoat

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 activities. Worn under your wedding gown to gently lift the hem off the ground, a bridal petticoat is perfect for relatively stationary photo shoots and moving 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 a petticoat, much the same thing can be accomplished by wrapping a sheet around the bottom of your gown, reveals 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," tells Butler. Ideally, the bustle should lift your dress far enough off the ground that that soil isn't an issue, adds Conant. "However, in practice bustle loops often break so it's good idea to attach some safety pins to the underside of your gown in case of an emergency."

Put Your Bridesmaids to Work

In other words, get by with a little help from your friends! Kleinfeld Fashion Director Terry Hall recommends holding up the bottom of your gown when walking outdoors especially. "Don't forget to utilize your bridesmaids too. They can help lift the dress or carry your train as needed."

Remove Your Shoes

Rocking a wedding gown with a tulle bottom or other delicate fabric? Then 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." Be extremely cautious, however, as it's very easy to misuse any product so you may be better off leaving this task to a professional.

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," notes Butler. Use your common sense and avoid obvious problem areas like puddles. Most importantly though, remember that the idea is to wear the dress, be comfortable and experience every moment of the day as it comes, says Hall. "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."

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