How to Steam Your Wedding Dress—Without Ruining It

To steam or not to steam?

travel with wedding dress
Photo: Glen Allsop / Christian Oth Studio

It's true: There is an art to traveling with your wedding dress. One wrong move, and you could end up with a lost or damaged dress. Whether you're traveling near or far, it's common for a wedding dress to get a little wrinkled. While wrinkles might seem like the least of your problems, they shouldn't be taken lightly. After all, many a fabric has been flawed from the incorrect wrinkle-removal method. Since it's your big day, you don't want a wrinkled wedding dress to get in your way, but you also don't want to make the problem worse by not doing your research first.

Professional steaming will produce the best results; usually, the bridal salon where you purchased your gown or the place that did your alterations will provide this service. But if you've traveled, this likely isn't a viable option. Relax: To get it in tip-top shape, you have a couple of options to choose from. Here, we rounded up our top four tips for ironing or steaming your wedding dress.

Damage Control

As soon as you get your dress (or when your dress gets to you), be sure to put it on a padded hanger right away. You may find that many of the folds will come right out, but chances are the gown will probably need to be steamed a little. Even if the dress has been hanging in the same spot in your closet for weeks, you should still give it one last steaming before the ceremony so it will look fresh.

Minor Wrinkles

For minor wrinkles, Karen Jean-Aimée, director of client relations at Madame Paulette, swears by the old "hang on the bathroom door during a steamy shower" trick. Think of it as creating your own steam room. Cover a bathroom floor with towels and run a very hot shower, allowing the room to fill with steam. (Just don't close the door, or the dress may get overly damp.) Next, wrap your arm in a dry, white towel and run it down the length of the gown, smoothing out any wrinkles. This method is much less likely to leave water spots or iron impressions than a home steamer or iron.


If your dress is particularly creased, try a handheld steamer. Just remember: You never want to apply steam directly to your dress, as water droplets can leave spots. Steaming through a clean white cloth is safer.

Hand Press

"Taffeta, dupioni, and shantung are fabrics I would only hand-press with a dry iron," says Cacky Rivers, owner of Cacky's Bride + Aid in Charleston, South Carolina. "Steaming may wrinkle them even more." Use a clean pressing cloth for heat protection.

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