After hours of joyful tears, congratulatory kisses and jubilant dancing, few things bear the marks of your wedding day the way your gown does. In fact, regardless of whether your celebration was held in a posh hotel or on the banks of babbling creek, chances are, your bridal regalia resembles gear worn in a war zone. Good thing area brides have an arsenal of tactics available to them from Five Star Wedding Gown Specialists to help defray the damage.
Five Star Wedding Gown Specialists, a sister company to one of San Antonio’s most successful cleaning companies, Five Star Cleaners, is new in name but already has already built a strong reputation for helping hundreds of brides overcome their wedding gown woes.
In the cleaning business for more than 26 years, Sharlene Thum, who with her husband Richard, owns Five Star Cleaners, says that working on bridal dresses is one of her favorite projects and felt it was time to make it a specialty of their growing business. Now certified by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, as are many of the managers at their 11 cleaning stores, Thum is happy to add her years of knowledge about restoring and preserving wedding gowns with the Association’s 100% Lifetime and International Guarantee, a big deal for brides around the country and world who want to know that their gown will be handled by experts in the field.
“Being a part of the association means that my brides will know that their gown is being treated with the utmost care,” says Sharlene. “It is not an association that just anybody can be a member of and I take it very seriously.”
And, it’s a fact celebrated by brides from around the city. Sharlene says her new endeavor keeps her phone ringing with calls from women of all ages—brides-to-be who are nearing their wedding day, mothers who want their restore an antique dress for their daughter’s future wedding, and not-so-recent brides who are embarrassed to admit that their dress has hung in their bedroom closet for almost 20 years.
Each case is a joy for Sharlene, who personally inspects and works on each gown at the main store located on Huebner Road.
“Each dress is so special and I understand the hesitation a lot of people have about the process,” says Sharlene. “But, I always assure my clients that I will tell them exactly what treatments I think will work on the dress and will ask them to inspect the dress themselves before it is boxed and taken home.”
Of course, Sharlene says that the ideal case is for brides to bring in their dress soon after their celebration. Still, she and her staff have several stories and samples of dresses that have been saved from being hurled into a trash bin. Among her most recent successes is a 100 year old yellowed lace dress she cleaned for a bride who planned on using portions of it in her own wedding dress and a dress brought in by a bride whose neglect over the last 18 years has resulted in dark brown spots throughout the bodice and skirt.
“Fabrics, spills, and, of course, issues like perspiration all affect the way a dress should be cleaned,” says Sharlene. "Letting stains, seen and unseen, linger means that, over time, the dress may be permanently damaged.”
The good news is that, in most cases, a cleaning will really make a difference. Sharlene encourages brides to bring their dresses in and see how technology and knowledge can revitalize what they thought was a lost cause.
Once the work is complete, Sharlene and her staff use acid-free tissue to protect the gown and enclose it in a completely acid-free, archival-quality wedding chest, a wise choice compared to the vacuum or plastic seals often used in the industry that may result in further decay and damage.
“We have confidence in our work,” says Sharlene. "We hope brides give us an opportunity to save the most important memory of their wedding day.”
Brides who purchase a gown preservation package will enjoy a free press of their gown for their wedding day. And, coming soon, Five Star Cleaners will offer complete service that will include pick-up of your dress and drop-off of the restored or preserved piece when it is done. In addition, Five Star Wedding Gown Specialists can restore and preserve christening gowns, first communion dresses and quinceñera’s dresses ensuring that memories from all stages of life can be preserved forever.
Brides can drop off their gown at any of the 16 local Five Star Cleaners for a free evaluation about wedding dress restoration or preservation.
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$200 gift certificate towards your wedding photography. Courtesy of Ardore Photography.
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