I, like many others was horrified at the price I was quoted to have my wedding dress packed up. It has since been hanging in the cupboard for the last 6 years. My sister in law hasn't had hers sitting around for quite that long, but when spring cleaning her house, I offered to box up her dress. It's one of those things that I think isn't really all that hard to do yourself. It will take up a lot less room and get it out of the terrible plastic dress bag they always seem to come in.
All you need to do this is a heap of white acid free tissue paper and a box. Easy!
Firstly, get your dress cleaned. I was a bit crazy and cleaned my own, but if you're not that brave, get it professionally drycleaned. Your dress may look lovely and clean, but it's likely that there's stains just waiting to come out. Sweat, white wine, deodorant and perfumes can all stain your dress over time.
It is recommended to remove any buttons or accessories on your dress with metal parts as they can rust over time and stain the fabric.
Now it's time to fold up your dress. Lay the dress out front down on a bed or a sheet on the floor. You now need to fold it to fit in the box. You want to make the folds fairly symmetrically and aim to have the bodice sitting neatly on top of the folded up skirt. Try to make the sections fairly even and about the size of the bodice, so you end up with a uniformly sized package at the end.
The tissue paper is used to buffer any folds so that they don't create permanent creases. Fold a piece of tissue paper in half and the lay it where you want to make a fold. Fold the fabric so that the tissue paper gets folded in half inside the fold of the fabric (shown above). Repeat this, buffering each fold in the dress. For outside folds in the fabric, scrunch up some tissue paper and pad the folds.
Fold the skirt in until you have a long column the width of the bodice. Fold in any waist ties. Then, fold the skirt up, working from the bottom, up to the waist.
You should end up with a neat pile of tissue and fabric from the skirt and the bodice of the dress underneath. Turn it over so the bodice is on the top. Scrunch up sheets of tissue paper and stuff the bodice so that the bust sits nicely.
The size of the box you need depends on how large your dress ends up when it's all folded. You really need to fold the dress up first, but the box will need to be at least as large as the bodice of the dress and deep enough for the dress and all the tissue paper.
Lastly, wrap the entire package in a few sheets of tissue to protect it from the outside world and lay it in the box. I like to put a lavender sachet in the box to keep any bugs away.
It's a good idea to take the dress out once a year and make sure that no bugs have ventured into the box and that no stains have decided to make an appearance.
NOTE: I am not a professional preservationist, this is simply what I believe is required to preserve a dress. This is what I think will do a good job after a bit of googling. If you want to do this yourself, do a bit of research first to make sure you're happy with the process. You do only have one wedding dress after all.