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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Forgive Me, Monique.


Last week The Candyman and I headed into the Northern Territories (location as described by my North Carolinian husband) to witness my bestie Marie, get hitched. The planning for this little shindig was a lightening-fast 6 months and I was happy as a clam to help out wherever I could: I made her holiday Save the Date cards and designed the pdf for her OOT bag iron-on decal (she basically did hers like I did mine) and I sent her text-message-a-plenty from Hobby Lobby on possible table number options.

Before I discuss the point of this post, I must say that this was hands down, the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The food was great, the booze flowed with the strength of the Potomac River (which was the backdrop for their ceremony), and the DJ was so good that The Candyman was certain one of the old folks would fall and break a hip. The flowers and décor were stunning. Expenses were not spared. I don’t think the word “budget” was used often in the planning. Unlike a lot of expensive weddings though, there wasn’t a hint of pretentiousness in the room. I think the wedding was defined the moment the ceremony started. The bride’s sister and MOH (not the girly-est of girls) looked stunning and received a catcall and words of encouragement while walking down the aisle. The bride, delivered in a fancy antique car (maybe a Rolls?), exited her ride to a standing ovation. I’ve never been to a wedding where people had to quiet and settle down, just so the bride could walk down the aisle. It really was something special and I choked up for like, the tenth time that day.

I am hoping that Marie will eventually be an Unfake Bride so I don’t want to share her recaps before she does, but there was an event that occurred every bride should be prepped for. 

The Spill.

While the newly married bride and groom were off getting photographed, the rest of us enjoyed the passed artichoke fritters, mini bleu cheese burgers and mini pizza things. We mingled, found old friends and sipped on Marie’s signature cocktail (it was purple with a hot pink sugar rim and I only had a sip because it tasted like grape Kool-Aid and I knew it would go down WAY too fast, as would I if I kept at them). I saw a flutter of white out of the corner of my eye and saw Marie and Vic arrive. They were inundated with friends and family and well-wishers. I wanted to be one of them, but held my ground to catch her a little later. I’d spent the better part of the day with her while she was getting ready, so opted to share! As I gazed towards the sun setting over the Potomac, the flutter of white suddenly became a fast moving target. I watched as the bride made a beeline away from the crowd and head towards the interior reception area. I thought to myself, “Wow. Is she gonna break the seal and pee….already?” and then I saw her face and my thoughts became, “Holy shit, what the fuck just happened?” As she came into full view, my heart sank. Trailing down the side of her amazing Monique Lhuillier dress was perhaps a quarter of a glass of RED WINE.

The Spill.

I grabbed her hand and nearly yanked it out of its socket, pulling her to where I saw her planner a few minutes earlier. I know I was babbling something along the lines of “We’ll get it out. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.” Truth? I was worried. Silk is the HARDEST and most delicate material to clean, period. Her gown, being Monique Lhuillier, was 100% silk and I had spent most of the afternoon steaming it to perfection. The weave of the skirt was a twisted and textured one, giving it a beautiful drape and as I led her away, I blew the dust off my mental notebook of stain treatments. Don’t rub, blot. Cool water. White towels. Club soda. Salt. Baking soda. Shout Wipes. Tide Stick. Wine Away. Chalk.

Think of a wine stain as an acid dye like food coloring (many wines do in fact contain food coloring, one reason wine stains can be difficult to remove). Acid dyes bond very easily with silk, wool and other animal fibers (remember silk comes from silk WORMS) like angora and cashmere, making them a total pain in the ass to remove.

The first thing I wanted to do was to take her dress off and run it under the sink. Getting cool water THROUGH the stain is the best first step. I knew that wasn’t an option so began with hitting the planner up for something I knew she’d better fucking have in her bag: some sort of stain removal thing. She had some Shout Wipes and we started there. It worked on the smaller spots, but the larger stains were an issue. Another friend arrived with a glass of club soda and a clean towel and several hands had joined me at this point, dabbing and soaking, trying to get all the spots out. Someone else brought some salt. Both salt and baking soda can be mixed with a little water and dabbed on a stain to attempt to absorb it. This was not working either. I think the twist in the weave was keeping the color locked in tight and I was starting to wonder if we’d get it out.

The bride was massively bummed, to say the least. I looked up at her and the tears were about to spill over. I babbled something about marrying the man of her dreams, it was OK, it didn’t matter….and she said, “Just give me a second to cry and I’ll be okay!” Because sometimes, a girl’s gotta get her waterworks on to move on. She suppressed a sob or two and blessedly, another friend showed up with a bottle of champagne and a glass and the rightness of the world slowly came into view. What I always believed as theory before I now know as fact: champagne is the magical elixir of life, making all things less horrible.

I leaned back on my heels and surveyed the repair process. The stains were faded, but not gone. The smaller spots were not noticeable but the larger ones were a bit of an eyesore. What to do? What to do? What to do? Another woman on Gown Patrol started fluffing and moving the skirt around, adjusting the stains, moving the fabric around and it gave me an idea. I grabbed the planner's bag (who was totally MIA: WTF?) and dug around for what I needed: a sewing kit. I took the heavily stained pouf and tucked it up inside another pick-up on her skirt and the majority of the damage magically disappeared. I looked up at Marie and said, “I can sew another pick-up into your dress and hide the stain.”

And Marie was all, “DO IT.”

I was trying to get a needle out, thread it, find scissors…my hands were shaking so badly. The needle was so long it felt like I was sewing with a fucking sword. I was terrified. I asked, “Are you sure?” simply not trusting myself to plunge a needle into a Monique Lhuillier gown. Marie nodded yes. I made the sign of the cross and said, out loud, “Monique, please forgive me.”  Honestly, I felt like I was about to piss on the Mona Lisa.

I couldn’t get my hand all the way up under her skirt and hold onto the pick-up at the same time so I had no idea how many layers I was going through and I totally didn’t want to stab my already-upset friend. As I was sewing, another friend walked in and was all, “WHAT are you doing?” and Marie very calmly said, “She’s a seamstress. She knows what she’s doing.” I almost cried at her level of trust because I certainly didn’t feel like I knew what the fuck I was doing. AT ALL. I just wanted my friend to be happy on her wedding day.

We got the pick –up sewn in and I dug around in the planners bag for some chalk, but couldn’t find any. Chalk is kind of like White Out for wedding gowns. It does nothing to help the stain, but it can cover it in a pinch. No luck there, but another guest had sent her husband out for a Tide Stick, which ended up helping some of the remaining stains. I was so flustered from sewing into a Lhuillier gown, I left the room, now filled with friends and family, offering encouragement and booze to the bride. I felt for the most part, the crisis was averted.

By the end of the night, I think the pick-up I sewed in had been pulled out by the dancing and everyone stepping on her dress (this happened to me and my bustle). The bride could have cared less at this point as she was having too good of a time, which I feel is the best remedy to anything that can (and usually will) go wrong.

So here are my words of advice for any bride:

1. First, definitely do NOT drink red wine. My planner refused to let me imbibe in anything but white.

2. Be careful hugging people with cocktails in their hands. This is how this spill happened.

3. Make sure your planner or MOH has a kit with the following goodies: 

  • Tide Stick or Shout Wipes, or both
  • Needle, white thread, black thread (for groomsmen tux-tastrophes),scissors
  • Chalk
  • Wine Away or Wine Out stain removal.
  • Safety pins
  • Duct tape (in a pinch, it’ll hold a ripped out hem or torn bustle like nobody’s business. You can buy WHITE duct tape at Home Depot). Hem tape or scotch tape are good to bring, but neither really hold the weight of a gown very well.
  • Clear nail polish (for stocking runs)
  • Band-Aids
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
  • Sedatives (if ya got em, bring em!)
  • Aspirin/Tylenol
  • Bobby pins/pony tail holder
  • Nail file
  • Breath mints
  • Lipstick
  • Straws (for beverage sipping prior to the reception)
  • Dental floss
  • Extra pair of cheap pearl/rhinestone earrings and extra earring backs.
  • Hairspray
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Super Glue (for broken heels, nails, jewelry)

4. Make sure that if the person who spilled the drink is your personal trainer, that you get him to agree to free training session for the rest of your living days. *ahem*

I did some research and the three most common wedding gown stains are red wine, lipstick and ink. Here are some dress-saving remedies:

Red Wine:  This website conducted research at UC, Davis and found several ways to help a red wine stain. I’m just going to list the practical ones because “3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal volume of Dawn liquid soap” does not sound like an easy wedding-day crisis solution to me. 

  • Gonzo "Wine Out" commercial stain remover.
  • "Wine Away" commercial stain remover.
  • Salt (applied immediately to absorb the liquid out of the fabric).
  • Sauvignon blanc white wine (I’ve never heard of this)
  • A solution of vinegar and Dawn liquid followed by rubbing alcohol.
  • Spray 'n Wash pre-laundry spot remover.

Lipstick: This is an oil based stain. As with wine, you need to get at the stain before it sets. Start with alcohol, which works well. Do not rub, or you'll spread the stain! Take a clean, white cloth and moisten it with alcohol. Then, blot the lipstick stain, which should disappear.

Another home remedy is dishwashing detergent such as Sunlight and Dawn, both formulated to fight grease. For this method of lipstick stain removal, dab on a little detergent mixed with cool water, let it set for about 10 minutes, and then gently begin working on the stain from the outside edges inward.

You can also apply baking soda directly to the stain as a cover up. It will stick to the stain until you can get your dress to the cleaners.

Ink: Hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Put a towel underneath the stain and then soak the spot with rubbing alcohol or hairspray. Blot the stain from the top with another towel as the alcohol dissolves away the ink. It might not get it all out, but it will definitely fade. Some hairsprays have a yellow tinge to it, so spray some in your palm first to make sure it won’t cause another discoloration on the gown.

During the reception, I caught glimpses of Marie dancing, talking with her guests – and in the dimly lighted room, you couldn’t even tell The Spill had happened. WHEW.

Most wedding gowns are HUGE. The have trains and bustles and things that have to be tied and laced and snapped and looped and buttoned and zipped and ….you get my point. It’s not like you can practice wearing a big ol’ gown. Know that it will be stepped on repeatedly, at the very least. Stuff can happen, so just arm yourself as best you can and try to move on if you do have a dress-tastrophe. Remember the love that got you to where you are.

If you can’t get a stain out, or repair a tear or fix your dress crisis if you do have one, just remember my all important factoid: champagne is the magical elixir of life, making all things less horrible.

Do you have another home remedy for fighting wedding day stains? Did you have your own dress-tastrophe? Do tell.

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Reader Comments (16)

Looove this post!!

Ok, maybe that sounded bad. I don't love at all that Marie got wine on her dress... poor thing :( But I LOVE the tips, something every bride should definitely know, and I LOVE how you handled the crisis! This just proves your awesomeness, Louise.

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

Louise is like her dad: Excellent at taking charge and solving the problem! Good job!

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMom

There was a team that helped, not just me! And honestly, if that other woman hadn't started moving the fabric around, I'm not sure the idea would have come to me, so BIG thanks to whoever that was!

May 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

dude...i'll get to how AMAZING your save was once i bitch about that wedding planner for a second. isn't the whole REASON why you pay her goo-fucking-gobs of money so she can PLAN all the details you won't necessarily think of? she's not there to maintain order as much as she is to help you through something you've usually done once and she's done 100 times. holy cow, wedding planner fail.

YOU ROCKED IT THOUGH. you came in, stepped up and saved the fucking day. hooray!

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlizzie

CHALK. Never would have thought of that. This excellent post has been emailed to every gal I know who is currently engaged, and it's going in my "wedding file" for the future. Excellent!! And excellent grace under pressure from you!

P.S - My best friend had a Monique gown and by the end of the night, ALL the pickups had fallen/been pulled out. I was the one with my head under her skirt trying to sew some back in so she wouldn't trip. Monique's not perfect either, I guess. :-)

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

LIzzie - I'm not sure if I "saved the day" but it was definitely a high-stress moment that I'm sure would rattle any bride OR planner. I was shocked that she simply walked out while everyone else was cleaning. She seemed really uninterested in the situation. She could have had other things to deal with? I'm not sure exactly what her contract specifics were, so maybe "dress duty" wasn't hers to manage? Not sure.

Renee - You know, when I looked at the pick-up's on Marie's skirt when I was steaming it, I thought it curious at how lightly they were tacked up. I wonder if that's just her style?

May 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

Louise - I'm not a seamstress (not even close!) but maybe that's what makes the pickups look so dreamy-like. That's my technical term, by the way, "dremy-like". But, I was surprised too that they all fell out. Especially because I was with her when she paid for the dress, and I almost passed out, it was so expensive. But, it was gorgeous, and fit her like a glove.

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

All right, now I have more things to add to my already big Emergency Wedding Day Kit. Thanks for the info.

So sorry to hear about your friend's dress. Glad she was able to drink and dance and forget about it.

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Bunny

Just before i walked down the aisle of our outdoor wedding in Australia my mum noticed there were some insects that had managed to get between the organza layers. She tried to go between the layers and brush them off and somehow she got a paper cut and ended up wiping blood all over the right side of my dress!

I've never had so many people trying to get a stain out but we didnt know what to do. Furtunately we were able to get the marks out of the to organza layer and we were able to pin the dress underneath so that the two big stains were hidden in the folds of the skirt. it was a great wedding though and makes for a good story.

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Best red wine remover? Straight up hydrogen peroxide, right outta the brown bottle. I know it sounds crazy, but it works like a dream. I use it on my carpet all the time. The bubbly enzyme action eats up organics like Pac Man. Pour on, let sit for a few minutes, dab off with clean cloth. Voila!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeanie

Sorry I'm late to the party on this, but Louise absolutely DID save the day!! She rocked it like no other - I had no doubt. Which is why I let her go crazy on my skirt. And it turned out FABULOUS, no one even noticed the stain. She took what could have ruined the day, and made it okay. I will be eternally grateful. And that she said it was the best wedding she'd ever been to, well, that blows me away. I am so blessed to have her as a friend!!!! <3 <3

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Oh, and PS - definitely an epic FAIL on the part of the wedding planner!!! Oh well, I guess you don't know till you know. :-) Despite her lack of helpfulness, we made it through. Thank God for great girlfriends!!!

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Louise - You were a huge help and a rock all of that hectic day, not only, but especially on the dress disaster. Marie is lucky to have you for a friend.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarie's Dad

Awwww. Y'all are choking me up!

May 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

Great post. This may be a little late but since I'm just reading it I know that people are still passing it around. And that's what happens with great info, it never goes out of style!

Great save by the way!

I'm not a professional wedding planner but have helped out friends and been their "coordinator" the "day of" and I always carry a bag of tricks. Here's a list of things that have not been mentioned but come in handy...

Clear double-stick tape for hems and other mishaps (once I had to use it to keep the bride's lace around her neckline where it belonged since it just wanted to flop over and not stand up straight). You need to get a tape with a really strong bond so it will hold up anything. I used to buy Hairpiece Tape (for men) a long time ago because nothing else was available, but now I would recommend something like Scor-tape, it's very strong and comes in several widths. It’s also much more flexible than duct tape and won’t leave a residue so it’s great for hems or sleeves, and is almost invisible under chiffon type fabrics.

Curling iron & hair dryer because you just never know about the weather or the humidity.

Snacks and bottled water if no one has provided it for the wedding party prior to the wedding. And make sure the bride eats and drinks something before the wedding as “wedding nerves” may keep her from eating all day and you don’t want her to pass out. Same goes for the groom and the groomsmen…

Pad of paper and pen. Invariably someone will still need to write their speech/toast for the reception…

Needles and thread are already mentioned but I would get “button” thread instead of the regular thread as it is thicker and stronger and will actually hold up a bustle…

Makeup essentials: new package of mascara, some neutral eye shadows.

Q-tips, see above.

Neutral nail polish to fix any chips that will have occurred.

Baby wipes. Great for hot days, humidity, “refreshing”

Deodorant, the spray kind. When you’re nervous you need more than you think.

Matches. Use them to burn off any stray strings on shoes since that thread is usually polyester. You can also use the safety pins you have on hand to scuff up the soles of the women’s shoes; makes them much less slippery and will prevent falls on slick floors. I use a cross-hatch pattern which provides a better grip…

That’s all I can add for now but I’m sure next time I help any one out I’ll have more stuff in my goody bag!

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatina

Katina, great information! Thanks for sharing!

May 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterLouise

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