You’ve said your vows, danced your first dance, cut the cake and polished off those last glasses of champagne. Your wedding day has turned into your wedding night and tomorrow you'll have to make the most important decision of all. No, we’re not talking about what to do with the rest of your married life. We’re talking about what to do with all of that wedding stuff. The average wedding costs anywhere from $19,833 to a terrifying $33,055 (May we suggest a giant piggy bank in lieu of a registry?) and while most of that amount typically goes towards your venue, a huge chunk of it goes towards things that you can hang onto. Self-storage is a great way to preserve all of that wedding stuff without sacrificing valuable space in your home. Here’s how to do it right:
Storing Your Wedding Dress
Whether you dropped a few hundo on it or a few grand, odds are your wedding dress is now the most expensive article of clothing that you own. Though we totally support you if you decide to wear it to every major social event for the rest of your life including grocery trips, the sad truth is you can’t exactly get a ton of usage out of it after the big day.
Putting your wedding dress in storage will allow you to pass it onto your daughter someday or just gaze at how sparkly it is whenever you feel like it. We’re definitely not going to demand that you run off to your storage unit as soon as your reception is over, but there is one thing that you should do ASAP: Get it cleaned. Because even small food and drink stains can ruin delicate fabric over time, it’s crucial that you put it in the hands of a cleaner who specializes in wedding dresses. You can also ship it off to be professionally preserved. Different options are available for different budgets from a simple cleaning and boxing service to a package that includes the preservation of accessories like your veil and stoll. The added preservation component includes a museum style container that prevents the dress from yellowing and can be placed inside your storage unit. If you prefer a DIY option, store your dress in a box made with acid-free paper and keep it out of sunlight between your wedding and your trip to your storage unit. And speaking of your storage unit, be sure to choose one that’s indoor and climate-controlled. If the thought of locking your dress away in a place that’s not your home makes you squeamish, consider storage insurance.
Storing Your Cake
So this one definitely does not go in your storage unit. We’d actually like to take a moment to make a brief statement: Do not put perishable items into storage. Ever.
Okay, PSA over. Saving the top tier of your wedding cake and eating it on the one year anniversary of your wedding is a romantic tradition meant to bring you good luck. Store it right and it’ll be a tasty one too. Store it wrong and you’ll get sick.
First, remove the inedible stuff like cake toppers and flowers. Next, freeze it until the icing is hard. This should take about an hour and will prevent the pretty design from getting smooshed. Once it’s good to go, wrap it as tightly as you can in plastic wrap. Then wrap it again. And again. Seriously, you really can’t overwrap it. After that, wrap it in tin foil, place it in a cake storage container and pop it in the freezer. Wait one year and enjoy!
Storing Photos, Invitations and Other Paper Keepsakes
Unless you’re a crazy person, you probably won’t display every single photo that was taken at your wedding. Putting them in storage (along with those extra Save the Dates and other mementos) will allow you to get at them if you ever need to.
The first thing you’ll want to consider when it comes to storing these items is the climate of where you live. If you live somewhere arid like Phoenix, the lack of humidity could dry your photos out. If you live somewhere humid like Washington DC, the swampy conditions could turn those stacks of photos into gloppy, useless bricks. Either way, we recommend climate controlled storage. If your storage unit is located in a humid or wet climate, ask the facility manager about pest control as bugs will gladly destroy your photos. Do your own damage control by placing the boxes of photos (and all other wedding stuff for that matter) on a raised surface like a pallet rather than on the floor of the unit itself.
Because this is not the 1950’s, you can also store digital copies of the photos on a flash drive or through Amazon Cloud Drive (Prime offers unlimited photo storage), Flickr, Shutterfly or even just a large Facebook album that’s set for only you to see.
Storing Your Bouquet
Your bouquet is so beautiful it’s hard to imagine putting it down, let alone throwing it away. You can keep it looking (almost) fresh by having it professionally preserved via either silica gel drying or freeze drying after which it can be displayed or stored in a shadow box. Either option should run you at least $300. You can also hang the flowers to dry yourself, though if you do this they won’t last even half as long as they will if you leave it to the pros. Whatever you choose, make sure to bubble wrap if you’ve opted for any kind of glass display case and label the box so that you know to be extra careful with it.
Oh, and you might want to skip the bouquet toss if you’re ever hoping to get your flowers back.
Alternatives to Storage
If several years of paying for what’s essentially an extra closet full of wedding stuff has got you wondering what else you could use your storage unit for, there are a few options for getting rid of the clutter. One option that’ll clean up your space and your conscience is donation. There are quite a few charities aimed at reusing wedding dresses. Your beautiful gown could go to a military bride, a low income bride or even a bride all the way in Haiti. If you spent a college tuition sized sum on your dress and you’d like to get some cash, you can also sell it. The usual suspects like eBay and Craigslist work, but sites like Tradesy and Once Wed are your best bets. Try selling your dress during the peak season of early spring to get your listing the exposure it deserves. And please don’t hate us for saying this, but if you spent $2,000 on your wedding dress, you probably won’t be getting $2,000 for it. A wedding dress is kind of like a fancy car; once it’s off the lot it loses value. Donate other items like decorations and any furniture you may have purchased for the wedding to your local Goodwill or to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. You’ll feel good about giving back and you’ll get a tax deductible receipt.
If parting with your wedding stuff is more bitter than sweet sorrow, work with a seamstress to remove a piece of the dress that you can keep forever. Or just hang onto your veil and wear it around the house. We won’t judge.