Forgive Me, Monique.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 8:35AM
Louise in Averting A Crisis, Life, Wedding Gowns

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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: 

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. 

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.

Article originally appeared on The Thirty-Something Bride Wedding Blog (http://thethirtysomethingbride.com/).
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