Who doesn’t love a wedding?!? A lot of people, sure. But those people are probably thinking about throwing or being a part of a wedding; when pressed, most folks will admit that they love attending a wedding. Such joy! Such free-flowing booze! Such egregiously and hilariously bad fashion choices!
And, of course, there’s always the possibility that something might go terribly, terribly wrong. Deep down, in a place most of us don’t like to think about, exists a desire to witness a wedding disaster.
While we could work in hypotheticals (drunken spills on a bridal gown, a muddy hem, etc.), that’s not as much fun as hearing actual, literal stories of wedding disasters, now is it? No, it is not! So I rounded up a whole heap of real-life wedding disaster stories of the cleaning variety, and wow-ee, they will not disappoint.
But before we get to the part where everything goes awry, we should start with the most important part of the wedding . . . THE DRESS. While most brides spring for something new to go along with whatever old, borrowed, and blue items they pick up along the way, some go for a more vintage approach. Which probably means a little wedding dress TLC is in order. Even if the dress is new at the beginning of your wedding day, by the end of the night it, too, might require some attention. I’m here to help.
Wedding Dress Restoration Projects: Before and After
Hannah is getting married! She wasn’t keen on the notion of buying a wedding dress because, as she put it, “I am not a pretty, pretty princess,” and her grandmother offered to let her wear a white linen and lace dress of hers, which was a gift from her father more than fifty years ago. For Hannah, the dress is beautiful and sentimental and, amazingly enough, fits her perfectly; the only problem is that the dress has some yellow stains, some of which clearly come from perspiration and some of which are a mystery. Compounding the problem, her grandmother has a fantasy that all of her many granddaughters will marry in this dress, and as the first wearer and one who’s responsible for getting the dress back to a wearable condition, Hannah is extra worried that she’ll do something to the dress in the course of restoring it that will render it unwearable, not only for her but also for future brides.
With the wedding about a year away, Hannah has some time to work on the dress, but she is juggling three jobs, making time and money scarce. Given that, she would prefer not to shell out a lot of money to have the dress professionally restored.
Because of its age, we agreed that it would be better to treat the stains gently, even if that meant taking a few passes at cleaning the dress over the course of some weeks.
Since the dress is linen, I thought that looking up instructions for cleaning vintage linens such as napkins would be a good starting point; the women in my family are great collectors of vintage linens, so I’ve grown up around them and know that they’re beautiful but also need special treatment. With that knowledge in hand, the first product I suggested Hannah try out was Engleside Home Care Products’ Restoration, which is designed specifically to clean and brighten delicate fabrics.
While there are other inexpensive at-home treatments using salt, white vinegar, and/or lemon juice, Hannah and I decided that for less than $20, the Engleside product would be our first choice, because it would likely be less time-consuming than the other methods.
So how did we do? We did great! But don’t take my word for it; here’s Hannah herself:
The Engleside product you suggested is amazing! I have a white dress again! And the big stain down the front is gone! The only thing that is still a problem is the pit stains, which, although faded, are still there.
Aha! Now this is the time to bust out some of the other at-home stain removal techniques.
Well, wait, no, first: this is the time to do a victory lap around our respective homes because how cool is it that a relatively inexpensive product more or less saved the day-slash-dress? I love a happy ending.
But back to those stubborn stains: this is where the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt come in. Start by juicing one to two lemons, depending on how big the stain is. Pour or spoon the juice onto the discolored area and heap on about a teaspoon of salt. Gently rub the salt into the fabric and allow it to work its magic for about thirty or so minutes. Then you’ll do two rinse cycles: the first one with white vinegar—a half to full cup will do it—and then the second (and maybe a third if there’s still a lingering vinegar smell) with warm water. Not hot! Linen doesn’t like hot water. Et voilà! No more pit stains.
I’ll be on the lookout for my invitation.
* * *
But what of postceremony dress salvaging in nondisaster scenarios? Take, for instance, this example from bride Lyndsay, who absolutely did everything right. Because more often than not, the right thing to do is to live and let live!
I ditched my original plan to change clothes to attend the postwedding beach bonfire and wandered down to the beach in my dress. After the festivities ended, the dress was full of sand and sea and smelled like a campfire; I’m not sure any amount of cleaning will ever transform it back into the heirloom I thought it might become. But I had a great time and that’s good enough for me. That being said, if you have any ideas of how to get sand, sea, and smoke out of a white silk dress, I am all ears. . . .
First of all, I’m so glad to know Lyndsay had a wonderful time at her wedding, dress be damned! Things are just things, but experiences are what make life worth living.
With that said, a wedding dress is a particularly special thing, and it’s completely understandable that she would want to preserve it as an heirloom. It’s nice to think that one day you might have a daughter—or heck, even a niece, goddaughter, or family friend—who might like to wear your dress to her own wedding. My cousin had my aunt’s wedding dress restyled for her own wedding, and it was such a special thing for her and for her mom. (Meanwhile, I just side-eyed my mom and was like, “Don’t even think about it. Your dress has two tons of lace on it, and a dress that looks like a toilet paper cozy isn’t exactly my style.” But then again, I’ve always been a willful and independent pain in her tush. She still loves me, though!)
The first thing you’ll want to do is to try to take care of the stains. You’ll need a space big enough for you to lay the dress out flat; once it’s out flat, first brush all the sand off it with a dry cloth. Then, with an ever-so-slightly damp cloth, go over all the stained areas. Just sort of wipe at it; you don’t want to grind the sand into the dress; you want to do a sort of sweep-up-and-away motion. It sounds weird, but actually you treat water stains on silk with water (I know, right?), so that will serve to remove both the sand and the water stains. If the sand stains are really stubborn, you can use a very small amount of liquid detergent to help things along (put the detergent on the rag and suds it up, then wring it out so it’s only slightly damp).
This might take a little while, but stay with it.
In terms of the smoke smell, once the dress is clean and completely dry, place it in a sealed plastic container or bag with an activated carbon odor absorber. Poof! It will look and smell brand-new.
If it’s worth it to you to spend the money to do this, you can also look up local wedding dress preservationist and have the dress professionally cleaned, stuffed, boxed, and sealed for posterity. The cost will run you around $200–$400, though in certain areas it can be as high as $800. If this is something you want to consider, look into preservationists before the wedding, so you can get the dress off as soon as you’re back from your honeymoon.
Cleaning Wedding Jewelry
Now that your dress is under control, we can turn our attention to your gorgeous wedding jewelry!
Did you get a diamond engagement ring? Or one with another kind of gemstone, maybe? Lucky you! Can I try it on? Don’t forget that you have to clean it to keep it sparkling, and that you’ll definitely want to clean it before the big day. Hard stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires can be brightened up with most jewelry cleaners, but there are also many variations on DIY jewelry cleaner.
One of my favorite diamond-cleaning tricks is to employ a denture-cleaning tablet to do the work for you. That will also work on other gemstones. Some other methods are:
• Hot water and vinegar: one part vinegar to three parts water, soak for twelve to twenty-four hours
• Hot water and baking soda: one part baking soda to five parts water, soak eight to twelve hours
• Dish soap and lemon juice: one teaspoon soap to three teaspoons juice, soak five to eight hours
• White toothpaste and an old/soft toothbrush: scrub gently for five to ten minutes, rinse with warm water
After cleaning, dry the jewelry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
One thing you do need to keep in mind is that soft gems like pearls or opals need special treatment. So if a piece of jewelry you’re planning to wear at the wedding involves either, take it to be professionally cleaned or clean it yourself using only a soft cloth or chamois. You should never use any kind of soap or acid-based product to clean your pearls or opals, nor should you use anything remotely abrasive—not even a very soft-bristled toothbrush.
If you’ve got vintage costume jewelry, you can use many of the same solutions but should alter the method to account for the fact that rhinestones and other similar costume jewelry elements shouldn’t be exposed to too much water, which can loosen them from their settings. So plan to apply the cleaning solution to a clean rag, and then wipe them off with a damp cloth instead of rinsing them under water. Jewelry cloths, which can be found in department stores, drug stores, jewelry stores, etc. are also a great choice for vintage or costume jewelry cleaning.
Caring for Your Wedding Haul
While we’re on the topic of things to do once you’re back from your honeymoon, let’s sit with a cup of tea in those fancy new china cups you got from an aunt you actually didn’t even know existed until it came time to sit with your mom to compile the wedding guest list. Because those fancy new china cups you got from Aunt . . . um, what’s her name again? Terry. Right, Aunt Terry. Those cups need to be handled a bit differently from the set of Steely Dan tour mugs your husband brought to the marriage.
Caring for Fine China
First things first: the thinner the china, the greater the risk of breakage. Given that, be cautious and use the common sense we both know you have when deciding whether to wash your good china in the dishwasher. One other important thing to be aware of is that many dishwashing detergents have bleach in them, which may pose a problem if your china is patterned; over time the design can become faded.
If you have hand-painted china, which often takes the form of very fine pottery, it should always be washed by hand. The paint will not do well in a dishwasher.
These are important things to think about when deciding what to register for—and actually, you should consider whether you even want fine china. If caring for it is going to drive you mad, skip it. If, down the line, you decide that you do want a good set of china, you can pick one up for a song at auctions and estate sales. Also, think about politely asking some of your older relatives what they plan to do with their sets of china when they, um, move on. Or maybe don’t do that because, oof, is that ever morbid. But it’s a thing to think about; many ages ago I found myself staring down the barrel of inheriting three sets of china in addition to whatever it was I was going to register for. A fortuitous breakup saved me from a future of hand washing forty-eight place settings, but right. Food for thought!
Once the china is washed, you want to think about how you’re storing it. Unlike everyday dishware, you don’t want to just stack plates on top of one another, which can cause chipping and scratching. Places like the Container Store have specialty holders made of soft plastic for plates of various sizes, cups, serving pieces, etc. You might want to consider registering for a few sets of those! But if we’re being completely honest with each other, they’re sort of unnecessary, because coffee filters, yup, the things that cost a dollar for one hundred of ’em, work perfectly well as plate separators. Don’t ya just love it??
The very first thing to accept about your fine crystal is that inevitably some of it will break. Make up your mind right now that you are not going to get upset when this happens! And also make a mental note that when it does happen, you’re going to go straight to Replacements, Ltd., to look up your pattern and order a new glass.
Now on to the care and keeping portion of the lesson. Your good stemware should never go in the dishwasher. Sorry! You’ve got to wash it by hand; use very hot water, the hotter the better. If your crystal ever gets foggy, you can use vinegar and baking soda or a denture tablet dropped into hot water to help reduce the cloudiness.
When it comes to drying the glassware, place a towel or two down onto the countertop near the sink and place the glasses upside down on it to drip-dry. This will help to lessen the chance of chipping or breakage, especially if you have granite, or another very hard material, countertops. When you’re done washing everything, you’ll need to towel dry the glasses; you don’t want to let them entirely air-dry, which can cause spotting. The best thing to use for drying crystal is an old linen towel; these can be found for not too terribly much money at flea markets or midrange antiques fairs and shops. Flour sack towels, which are much more easily found, are also great for this chore. Think about maybe registering for a stack of them if you’re going big on the crystal.
The last thing to know is that you should store your stemware stem side down. Placing the rim of the crystal down can lead to chipping.
Just like with fine china and crystal, you should think about whether you’re willing to put in the time it takes to keep up with silver, because owning silver means polishing silver. I actually LOVE polishing silver, but I’m also some sort of freak outlier when it comes to matters of cleaning, so don’t take my word for it. In fairness to me, I often hear from people who share my love of polishing silver; there’s something sort of soothing about the process and at the end of it you can absolutely see the fruits of your labor because OH WOW, SHINY! LOOK AT THAT SHINE, BOB! (Bob won’t care. Bob will be looking for his set of Steely Dan mugs that you wisely packed away with the holiday decorations.)
If you do feel like you’re up to the challenge of maintaining a set of silver, by all means you should get some! It’s beautiful, and it’s really nice to set a lovely table. It’s becoming a lost art, and that’s rather a shame.
There are, generally, two types of silver polish: cream or liquid (often also referred to as a dip). I prefer a cream polish, and recommend either Twinkle because it’s good and also because it’s called Twinkle, which is fun to say, or Wright’s Silver Cream. There’s also a store in New Orleans called As You Like It Silver Shop that makes a brand of cream polish that is extraordinarily good. They’ll ship it to you; get a few eight-ounce tubs sent to you at a time and stash ’em away. One last note on silver polishes: unless you’re absolutely desperate and cannot find anything else, do not use Tarn-X. It eats the silver. If you do find yourself with Tarn-X as your only available option, use as little as possible and rinse each section after polishing and before moving on to the next section to reduce the amount of time the polish has contact with the silver.
In terms of your polishing process, when you’re ready to get to work, get yourself a rag of some sort—a scrap of old towel or T-shirt will work well here, truly something you don’t care about because the tarnish will stain—and the polish of your choice. Dampen the rag, wring it out, and rub it into the cream polish. You don’t need a ton of polish, but you also want a good enough amount to work with. The good news is that you can’t really hurt things by using too much or too little, so you can find your own way in terms of the amount of polish to use as you go along.
Apply the polish by rubbing your polish-y rag in a circular motion across a small area of your silver. Continue along in this fashion until your little paw starts feeling crampy, and then rinse the polished area under warm water to admire your work! Oooooh, shiny! I know, it’s amazing, right?
Using that bit of progress to buoy your spirits, keep moving along until you’ve covered the entire surface. Once you’ve done that, rinse with warm water and buff with a dry, clean rag. (Again, here you’ll want to use a rag because of the black from tarnish stains.) You can go back and touch up any spots that may be left.
The most important thing you need to know is to never use any kind of abrasive tool on silver, because it scratches very, very, very easily. The back of a scrubby sponge, nope. A scrubber brush, nope. If you need a tool to get into crevices, the harshest thing you should ever use is a soft-bristled toothbrush. If you learn nothing else from me, let that be it. Well, that and not mixing bleach and ammonia—but you know that already, right? Right.
One other thing worth pointing out is the effect that certain foodstuffs have on silver. Salt and sulfur will cause tarnishing and may even cause corrosion or pitting. So if you’re using silver serving vessels for eggs, mayonnaise-based dishes, or salad dressings, or heavily salted dishes, you should wash those pieces as soon as you can.
When it comes to silver, storage is really important. Tarnishing is caused by chemicals floating around in the air. Given that, the best way to reduce tarnishing is to store silver in as air-free a place as you can find. A silver chest is a thing you might want to think about acquiring! Maybe a kindly relative might spring for one as a wedding gift! Or you can certainly look for one at auctions, antiques stores, eBay, and so on. Silver chests are lined with a tarnish-preventing fabric and have separators for the pieces, which helps to prevent scratching.
If you’re not ready to go full in and invest in a silver chest, you can get silver cloth bags. Oftentimes the place settings you’ve registered for will come in those bags, in which case, SAVE THEM. If not, you can get silver bags and silver cloth at places like the Container Store.
After all this, you may be rethinking putting silver on your registry. That’s okay! Because just like with fine china, if you decide later in life that you’d like a set of silver, you can find very reasonably priced vintage silver at auctions. A thing to look out for in particular is old silver plate, because no one wants it anymore and it can be incredibly inexpensive. Some of the pieces you’ll find will be gorgeous and quite unusual. One last thing on collecting silver: if the sets are incomplete, you can still build an “assembled” set of twelve, with a little patience, by cruising auction catalogs or going onto Replacements, Ltd., to search for your pattern.
Perhaps you got some beautiful table linens for your wedding, or splurged on a nice tablecloth in honor of the first dinner party you’re going to host using your fancy new china, silver, and crystal. What do you mean you’re not planning to host a dinner party?! You don’t even need to cook, just order pizza and serve it on the good china! Maybe don’t tell your mother-in-law I said that, though.
Inevitably someone is going to spill on your tablecloth, and you should prepare for that now. Commit to not being the sort of person who gets upset over an accident. And buy some Cascade. Yes, the dishwasher detergent. Oh, also! It must be the powdered kind. Mix it into a large body of warm to hot water so that it dissolves completely; there’s a bit of bleach in Cascade, which, once dissolved, is going to get your linens back to bright, bright white. While your detergent is dissolving, spray the blemished area with your favorite stain treatment. Then put the dirty linens into the Cascade solution and let them soak for thirty minutes up to two hours before rinsing well and allowing to dry.
That technique will also work on stains left behind from melted wax, so if you’ve included tapers in your fancy meal of pizza-served-on-the-Spode, this is a good thing to know about. The only difference in terms of treatment is the addition of one step at the beginning of the cleanup process: grab an ice cube and hold it on the wax. The wax will freeze and you can pop it right off the fabric. Then you’ll treat any residual staining using the Cascade method.
Now, how’s about those disaster stories I promised you?
The biggest culprit in the wedding disaster tales I heard was red wine, and honestly? I think the solution is to take the museum approach to open bars and just ban red wine from these events altogether. But in acknowledgment of the fact that most people probably aren’t going to do that, let’s go through a couple of things you can do—and more important, products you should have tucked away at your wedding reception for when these spills inevitably occur—to treat red wine stains on the fly.
With that, to the stories! They’re arranged in order from least to most horrifying because I like a slow burn on my calamitous tales.
My on-again, off-again boyfriend destroyed a really nice vintage silk tie once when he was a groomsman and drunkenly spilled red wine all over the front of it.
If red wine stains are going to happen at a wedding, the best person for one to happen to is a member of the groom’s party. Why? Well, the members of the groom’s party are the least likely to care about spilling on their tie. Maybe the bride’s uncle Bertie would care less, but boy, would Auntie Rita be peeved about it.
The other thing is that, in the pantheon of things red wine can stain, ties are actually relatively easy to get cleaned up, especially at weddings, where there is, presumably, food and table settings and such. The thing to do if you spill red wine anywhere basically is to run immediately toward the closest available repository of table salt. Pour the salt all over the stain, like a giant mound of it (but don’t rub it in, just heap it on the stain). In the case of ties it’s probably best to take the darn thing off you rather than have to hold it flat in your palm while still wearing it. If you’re a lady and get red wine on your skirt or pants, just sit down; if it’s on your top half, retire politely to the ladies’ room and hang around in there, topless, while the salt does its work. Hopefully you’ve worn a bra! But if you haven’t, hey, good for you!
The salt will absorb a goodly amount of the red wine. You will be astonished! It just sucks that wine right up! You might be tempted to talk to the salt about its drinking problem.
On the fly, the salt trick should leave you looking good enough to rejoin the party. If you’re a lady and you’ve taken your blouse off, don’t forget to put it back on. Or do! What better way to get that wedding party started?
There will likely be a persistent stain, which you can treat once you’re home by mixing equal amounts of water and white vinegar together and applying to the stain using a clean cloth. Don’t, however, rub at the stain—you want to sort of dab or blot at it, so as not to grind the stain further into the fabric. Keep on repeating this action as many times as it takes for the stain to come up; just use a clean part of the cloth as you go along so you don’t transfer the stain you just lifted back to the fabric.
If, after all this, the stain is still there, get your hands on some rubbing alcohol, apply it to a clean cloth or cotton pad, and apply that to the stain. Put something heavy-ish, like a hardcover book, over it to hold it down and leave it there for thirty or so minutes. That should remove the stain. If it doesn’t, either take it to a dry cleaner or give up hope, your choice.
I was a bridesmaid at a super lavish wedding out in Sag Harbor around six years ago, and during the speeches, right before the first dance, you know, the one where EVERYONE takes photos, the husband spilled an entire glass of red wine on the bride. We all had to rush to get her cleaned up before the dance began. I think the wedding planner literally poured OxiClean onto her multithousand-dollar dress. The outcome was a barely noticeable pink stain at the bottom of her gown. And I think the professionals were able to get the stain out when they cleaned it after the wedding.
This is, like, the mother of all red-wine-spills-at-a-wedding stories. Also, I like this one because it comes with its own answer. (Here salt is going to be impractical, given the breadth of the stain. You’d have to use, like, five tubes of Morton’s on a stain that size.) And I double dog like this one because the answer is OxiClean, and Oxi is one of my top five favorite cleaning products. Well, yes, of course I have a list. Have we not met?
A small tub of OxiClean will run you somewhere in the five-dollar range. A small price to pay for the peace of mind it will bring you, the bride, on your wedding day. Just think about the relief you’ll feel when your drunken brand-new husband tosses his drink all over the most expensive outfit you’ve ever owned, knowing that you’ve got Oxi on hand to clean up the mess!
Try to think a little bit less about the fact of your drunken brand-new husband who you’re now bound to maybe by God and definitely in the eyes of the law.
I heard of a wedding horror story recently where the bride and groom had an outdoor wedding and it started POURING rain. Like, sheets. And there was no backup plan, so they had to have the ceremony outside, in the rain, as everyone got soaked through and mud started creeping up the bride’s dress. To make matters worse, they had ONE keg as their source of alcohol, so during the reception the groom had to drive half an hour IN HIS WET TUX to go get another keg, because apparently no one said, “Hey, groom, it’s your wedding, so you should probably not have to drive to get booze.” I guess not so dirty as it was wet, but still, bad all around.
Gosh, well, that sounds perfectly dreadful for literally everyone involved. I think the lesson here is more about hedging your bets than it is about cleaning: if you’re having an outdoor wedding, have a backup plan in case of rain or, at the very least, a gross of golf umbrellas on hand. And also pick your wedding party better than these folks did, because why in the world was the groom going on a beer run at his own wedding?
Also: have more than one keg. Come on! It’s a wedding. You only (hopefully) get one of those; splurge on an extra keg or two.
Okay, but the mud! Who among us hasn’t gotten muddy at least once in our lives? It’s a funny thing, mud. Most things that cause the worst sort of staining demand that you treat them straightaway; mud prefers that you let it chill, have a beer, watch some hockey, and dry out.
See, the thing about mud is that once it’s dry, it’s just dirt. And you can brush dirt clear away. Isn’t that too stupidly easy for words? There might (probably) be some residual staining, which can be tackled by using a stain-pretreating product like Shout or Resolve and then laundering as usual, or in the case of fabrics that can’t be laundered, getting after the stain with a clean sponge and a small amount of dish soap or mild laundry detergent will go a long way. There’s also dry cleaning as an option.
If, however, you find yourself out and about sporting wet mud and don’t have time to let it dry before cleaning it, grab some clean towels or rags and try to sop up as much of the mud as you can with them. Just do your best not to grind the mud further into the fabric. Once you’ve gotten up as much mud as you can, go back over the stain with a sponge and some soap.
OH CINDERELLA, YOUR SHOES!
A wedding can be hell on a pair of shoes—especially if there’s an outdoor ceremony or reception involved. If, postwedding, you find yourself with mud on the heels of your shoes, wait for it to dry and then rub it off with a dry, clean cloth. Preferably one that you don’t mind getting filled up with soil.
If you’ve worn fabric shoes that have gotten stained, try dampening a sponge and rubbing a small amount of dishwashing soap into it and give the shoes a once-over with it. You want to make sure you work the soap into the sponge, rather than applying straight soap to them, and also make sure the sponge is damp rather than sopping wet. You’ll be amazed at how much grime and staining a little dish soap can get up!
Finally, I can’t let you all out of here without regaling you with a brief primer on shoe shining. There are a number of good reasons to polish your shoes, the first of which is that it just makes them look better. Regular polishing will also extend their life span, which is a thing I think we can all get behind considering how much money some of us spend on our shoes. The last good reason is that it’s really incredibly easy and takes very little time.
Go on and get yourself a standard shoe polish and apply it using a cloth—old socks or T-shirts are great for this purpose—and then buff it out with a brush. There are also instant shine products available, which are applied with a sponge applicator attached to the bottle of polish. Instant shine products don’t require buffing or brushing, but you should know that you’ll pay a price for the shortcut in that liquid polishes can have a drying effect on leather over the long term.
About an hour before my wedding, the wedding cake toppled over from a table it was set on and fell on the floor. It had been put on a side table that overtipped. I was standing across the room and remember the whole thing happening in slow motion. I think the cleaning was: picking off any carpet fuzz and strategic redistribution of flowers.
It’s pretty gratuitous to include this, but include it I will mostly for the disaster factor of picturing the bride watching the most expensive pastry she’s ever bought (do you yet sense a theme here? Oh, Wedding Industrial Complex, how vexing you are) go toppling to the floor before anyone even had a chance to taste it.
But also! For those of you who are planning a wedding or haven’t gotten married yet but may one day, isn’t it so nice to know that even the cake falling clear onto the floor is a thing that can be fixed? Yes! Yes it is.
And this also gives me an excuse to share cleaning tips for getting frosting out of carpet, which I get asked about way more than I feel is normal. Frosting (or icing, as some people wrongly call it) is another one of those things, like mud, that is actually better to let dry before you try to deal with it. Unless it’s got a huge load of food coloring in it, in which case get to the cleaning as soon as possible so the dye doesn’t have time to leech into the fibers.
In either case, wet or dry, OxiClean or a spray carpet cleaner like Resolve is your best bet: it will help to take up the crusted-on substance as well as any staining. Just be sure not to grind the frosting into the carpet while you’re cleaning it. You want to work in a swiping, blotting sort of way.
You know how sometimes you have sex with your boyfriend in the hotel room before his sister’s wedding rehearsal? And then you put on your dress and head into the car? And then you realize you sat in some, uhh, leftover semen that was on the bed and it’s all on the back of your shimmery green dress? And your boyfriend’s mom asks what happened and you say you got it when you were steaming your boyfriend’s suit? Of course you know.
(Semen stains can be treated with OxiClean. No word yet on its efficacy in repairing relations with the future mother-in-law who knows exactly what that stain is and thinks you’re a hussy and blames you for sullying her son, the perfect angel, with your wanton hussy ways.)
I was a bridesmaid in a wedding and the mother of the bride puked all over herself during the reception. She just sort of looked down and it fell out of her face. Then she wiped it with a napkin and kept drinking and calling the bride fat.