Nine Nifty Fixes for Wedding-Dress Emergencies
by Susan Hawkins

The Boy Scout motto has it right. Be prepared. You can be 99.9% sure that nothing horrible is going to happen to your wedding gown on your wedding day. Still, it only takes a bit of effort to plan for that
.1% possibility, so if disaster strikes, potential panic is quickly averted by quick fixes at your fingertips. Here's what you'll need in your emergency kit:
  • Safety pins
  • Baby wipes
  • Pre-threaded needles with the thread that matches your gown (stitch a strap, a popped button, a hem or anything else that needs a speedy repair. You can even be sewn into your gown if the zipper breaks.)
  • Dress tape
  • Hairspray
  • White chalk or talcum powder
  • A white cloth
  • A pair of scissors
  • A bleach pen
  • A small piece of paraffin wax or a wax pencil from a fabric or notions store
  • Hair dryer
  • A pair of gloves
  • Opaque-top pantyhose in the color of your dress

    Now that you have your kit together, let's see what might happen and how to fix it:

  • Your zipper sticks. Take the paraffin or wax pencil, rub the wax up and down the zipper, and your zipper will slide easily. Even though the wax won't be noticeable, rub the wax on the inside part of the zipper to avoid getting wax on the outside of your dress.
  • Your zipper gets stuck in the fabric. Have patience here. You don't want to panic and tear your gown. Take off the dress and very gently (emphasis on the VERY) pull the fabric out of the zipper. Don't tear the upper teeth of the zipper. No tugging or pulling, which can break the zipper. Move the zipper up and down a tiny bit until the fabric is free. Then zip it all the way up and down to make sure the zipper is back to normal.
  • You get a spot on the dress. The fix here depends on the fabric of your gown. Take note: Fixes for polyester are very different from fixes for silk. If it's polyester, blot the spot with baby wipes until the stain begins to dissolve. DON'T WASH THE SPOT. Dry the blotted spot with the hair dryer. Club soda dabbed on a white cloth also works. As you blot (DO NOT rub and scrub,) feather inward to avoid a ring around the stain. You can use the bleach pen on white polyester only, and only if you are an experienced bleach-pen user. If not, go with the baby wipes. And blot with baby wipes if you get make-up on your dress. (Tip: Don't touch your face and then your dress. There's oil in the make-up. Consider wearing gloves until the wedding begins.) Believe it or not, hairspray will remove ink stains—spray it on a white cloth and blot. Cover up the stain on a silk gown with chalk. Lightly dot the chalk on the spot and brush off the excess. This will get you through your wedding photos, but your dress will need to be dry cleaned to remove the stain. DO NOT wash silk. The water stain will look worse than the original spot. Here's one more helpful hint: Put your wedding dress on last!
  • Your dress gets a snag. Simply pull the fabric side to side, gently moving and flattening the snag until it goes back into place. Cutting the snag will leave a hole in the fabric. You can also try running your thumb in the direction of the snag to give you a small piece of thread that you can pull under the fabric.
  • You lose a few beads. No one really notices a few missing beads. That said, it's not unusual to lose a few beads, because they're applied by hand and typically tied every few beads. If you find a spot where a bead or two is missing, double-knot the thread as close to the bead as you can and snip the excess thread or pull it under the beads to prevent further bead loss in that spot. Beaded gowns often come with a bead repair kit, which should include matching thread and a needle thin enough fit through the bead holes.
  • Your dress is too loose. Turn the dress inside out, take a safety pin and pin a dart (so the pin won't show) on the inside of the dress near the seam. Use dress tape to keep the top in place. Dress tape is actually a handy little item. It's a clear, two-sided tape (also sold as “Sticky Strap” or Hollywood dress tape,) made to adhere fabric to skin. Dress tape will keep a strap inside the dress, prevent fall-out in a low-cut dress, fix a hem quickly and hold a tear together in chiffon or tulle.
  • Your dress is too tight. Don't freak! Just zip the dress up until it's comfortable and push the zipper tab down to keep itsecured. Use the dress tape to hold the gown in place above the unzipped area and in the front. Attach a piece of fabric under the open spot with dress tape, or cover it with ribbon or your veil.
  • You tear your wedding veil. Don't sew it! Use dress tape. If the hole or tear is really small, forget about it. No one will notice. For a plain-edge veil (no trim or beading) with a tear at the bottom, fold the veil in half and, following the pattern of the veil, use the scissors to shorten the veil just past the tear.
  • Your dress is see-through in bright sunlight. Pull off the sexy garter belt and thigh-highs and pull up those opaque-top pantyhose!

    Feel good about yourself. You're now prepared for most wedding gown emergencies. However, if the airline loses the suitcase with your gown on the way to your destination wedding, even the dress tape won't help.