acid free tissue paper



Members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (AWGS) met February 28-March 3 in Nashville, Tennessee, to discuss marketing strategies with wedding industry experts, tour the plant of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners owned by AWGS members Alan and Rhonda Wernick, and elect officers.

A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the ninth annual Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence.  Initiated by Linda Stokes-Barth in remembrance of her late husband and his achievements in the dry cleaning industry, the award recognizes a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists for advancement, promotion, and development of industry standards for wedding gown care and for outstanding contributions and service to the Association and its members.

Accepting the Barth Award
Accepting the Barth Award

This year’s honoree, Rhonda Wernick, is co-owner of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners in Nashville, Tennessee.  As AWGS president Kermit Engh noted when he presented the award, “I first met our winner a number of years ago and have developed a friendship and deep respect for her business and her contribution to our association.”

Oakwood, already a member of AWGS, Leading Cleaners International, and Methods for Management when Rhonda Wernick and her husband Alan took over in 2011, benefits from both Alan’s expertise in business finance and software development and Rhonda’s creative art profession.  Rhonda’s special talent as a professional artist is evident everywhere at Oakwood and walking into either of the two Oakwood locations is like walking into a living room complete with comfy chairs, her own beautiful artwork and a friendly, family-like atmosphere.  Overall the Wernick’s have not only maintained Oakwood’s reputation for excellence but also taken it to an even higher level of couture cleaning and customer service.

Immediately drawn to the bridal side of the business, Rhonda has attended every AWGS meeting since 2011, served on the Board of Directors 2014-2017, and is quick to welcome new members via the AWGS discussion forum.  On the forum she often shares inspiring photos of special projects such as turning a vintage wedding gown into a unique christening gown.  She also shares ways to enhance the bride’s experience at the counter.  “We like to make a bride feel like she is the only one in the store,” says Rhonda, and each bride also receives a special keepsake when she takes her gown home–Rhonda’s hand-painted sketch of the gown.

In addition to managing Oakwood’s bridal business, Rhonda operates both and  She also gives back to her community with 9 years of service on the board of trustees of the Nashville Gordon Jewish Community Center and in many other ways including chairing and originating art events such as Nashville Temple Arts Festival and Art on the West Side.  In 2017 she was the featured artist at Art on the West Side.

[Read more…] about AN HONOR FOR OUR OWNER

A Framed Memory

The minute she put it on, Stacy knew that this gown was going to be treasured forever. Her exquisite Justin Alexander beaded gown was just what she had dreamed of and now what she will use as a piece of art. 

Framed gown in Stacy’s home

“I must say that the cleaning & framing of my dress turned out just as I had hoped, so the long wait was well worth it!”

We asked Stacy a few questions that led to the framing of her gown. 

How did you choose Oakwood Cleaners to clean your gown?

I used the knot and just google results. I then read a lot of reviews because I was a bit weary with handing my dress over to just anyone. I chose you all based on your reputation, cleaning process, and great customer service when I called with questions. I don’t recall whom I spoke to but I felt assured that my dress would be safe and not be around harmful chemicals.

Why did you choose to frame your wedding gown?

I chose to frame my gown because I have been dreaming of it since I was a little girl. My mother is Korean and was married in a traditional Korean dress (hanbok) rather than a “beautiful white American dress”, as she would say. Though she looked stunning I think she always wanted an American wedding dress, so growing up she would always tell me how important the dress is, what it symbolizes, and since it is worn on the most important day of our lives we should always keep it and take care of it. Originally I was just going to preserve it in a small box, but one day at my parents home I walked past hanbok from my first birthday, which is a big deal in Korea, and thought to myself…. how awesome would it be if I had my dress framed?? Though the size of the framing and investment would be quite a bit more than it was for my tiny baby dress, my former fiancée / now husband thought it would not only be a great way to preserve the memory of our special day, but show my mother that I don’t take for granted the fact I got a beautiful American wedding dress & that I would take care of it forever… The fact it is a beautiful piece of art in my home is an added bonus 🙂

When I look at it I think of my wedding day and how magical it was, but I also think about all of those times my mom would wander into the wedding section of a dress shop to fantasize which she would choose. It as always a lot of fun and one of those mother daughter memories I will always remember.  The touching part of this story is when I went to get my wedding dress I had them pick out a dress for her to try on. She was nearly in tears … kind of funny that a dress can mean so much/ hold such symbolic meaning. 

A Kiss

This is Stacy’s gown as she brought it to us for cleaning.

Stacy’s gown before cleaning

We always suggest using our neighbors The Beveled Edge for projects such as this. They also frame needle point, printed fabric, you name it! Here is the process direct from The Beveled Edge in Nashville, TN.

Laying the dress in place
Ready for delivery


A precious moment for Stacy

“Thank you again for the excellent quality in service and helping me preserve a little piece of my special day.” 








Whether you need pressing before your wedding, cleaning and or preservation after your wedding or something special like framing, Oakwood Cleaners is here for you!

Your Memories Preserved

I so enjoyed my interview with Geny’s Flower & Bridal about our Wedding Gown Preservation process. Here it is:

Life at Oakwood Post 8

Do you have a vintage wedding gown?

One of the best things about life at Oakwood is definitely our family of customers and hearing their special stories. We see all kinds of vintage clothing including wedding gowns. Rita came in months ago and told me about her gown which was over 40 years old. I had been waiting for her to bring it in which she did just recently.

A vintage preservation
What’s in the metal chest?

Rita walked in on a chilly November day with the metal chest pictured above in hand. Of course I was curious as to what this was. Well, this was the chest that her mother had her wedding gown preserved in. It was wrapped in a sheet and placed in the chest. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I had not.

Vintage Metal Preservation Chest
Vintage Metal Preservation Chest

This was a special gown hand-made by her mother down to hand sewing every bead and pearl and piece of lace!

40 year old gown detail
Handmade Wedding Gown Detail
40 year old wedding gown
Handmade Wedding Gown Front
40 year old wedding gown
Handmade Wedding Gown Back View

Rita was so proud of her wedding gown and could not say enough about the time and effort her mother spent creating this spectacular gown. She described how she took several different patterns and then added her own ideas while doing fittings with Rita for a perfect fit. Every pearl and piece of lace were sewn on by hand with love and care.

Due to the age, the delicacy of the tulle and the strength of the lace and pearls, the tulle layer has begun to deteriorate. We cannot restore the gown as is, but we talked about cleaning the lining, which was in great shape and the lace applique’s so they would be available for future use.

We at Oakwood Cleaners are so privileged to hear your stories and be able to see your vintage items. Thank you Rita for sharing this with us.

GREEN or not Green

Beach Scene with Green Earth Logo

Throughout the years more and more people are becoming
eco-friendly conscious. We all want to live healthy , conserve energy, recycle
whatever we can, and use products that are deemed “green”.

So what does make a product or service “green”? It takes research, but that means
knowing what to research and where. The least I can do is give you some
information on Oakwood “The Greener” Cleaners.

Here at Oakwood Cleaners we like to think of ourselves as
the “Greener Cleaner”.  We use a solvent
called “GreenEarth”.  As a GreenEarth
cleaner we use no hazardous chemicals to pollute our soil, water or air and
thus non-toxic to the environment.  As a
“Greener Cleaner”:  we don’t use
petrochemicals like most dry cleaners and there is also no chemical odor from
the GreenEarth solvent so your clothes always smell fresh.  We suggest our degradable poly bags be
recycled so they will be in the correct environment for complete decomposition
within a year. Of course we gladly take back your wire hangers as well as our
plastic hangers for recycling. Our tissue paper is constructed from recycled
paper and we try to do as much of our printed marketing materials on 100%
recycled content: 100% post consumer waste, chlorine-free paper, made with 100%
green energy.

As a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists we partner with We offset all carbon dioxide emissions that result from the process of cleaning and preserving your wedding gown-including your trip to and from our establisment, all cleansing, and the wedding chest’s manufature-with our donation to, the leading non profit carbon offset and climate solutions organization.

We are also certified with the Green Cleaners Council.

Our lighting in our plant is in accordance with NES guidelines for effiency as well as our washers and dryers.

We know there are many businesses “Green” and we applaud the efforts of everyone trying to make our
world a better place.

Please help us in our effort for a sustainable planet. Here
are 10 tips for a “greener” lifestyle that I found on by Annie B. Bond

1. Natural Clothing

Fibers made from animals and insects include wool, silk, mohair, cashmere,
camel hair and angora. Animal fibers usually have attributes not found in
manmade or plant fibers. For example, a sheep’s wool fleece is designed to wick
perspiration from the animal, thereby helping to regulate its body temperature,
and wool provides the same benefit as human clothing or bedding.

fibers include cotton, hemp, linen, jute, kenaf, and ramie. Plant fibers
breathe, enabling the release of perspiration through natural fiber clothing.
Plant fibers also usually are very good at absorbing moisture. Linen tea towels
are excellent for drying dishes for this reason, for example.

labels to find clothing made of 100 percent natural fibers such as from those
mentioned above. Common names of synthetic fabrics are polyester, acetate and
nylon. Rayon is a manmade fabric made of natural materials, but the widespread
practice in gathering the fiber is to use virgin tree pulp, which is not

2. Natural Food

Read labels. Look for food words you recognize, and always opt for the product
that that has the fewest unrecognizable words. This rule of thumb may seem
simplistic, but it works, since food manufacturers do not translate commonly
known food names into a chemical name on packages. The spice turmeric is called
turmeric and is a welcome natural yellow dye substitute to find on a label
instead of an FD&C dye.

3. Natural Personal Care

Just because a personal care product is sold in a natural foods store doesn’t
mean that it is a product made of natural materials. (This scenario doesn’t
apply to cleaning products as those found in natural food stores are usually
genuinely green products.) The rule of thumb for finding natural personal care
products is the same as for food: Read the labels for ingredients you recognize
as being real, and buy those. Aubrey Organics and Weleda are two brands that
are genuinely natural.

4. Natural Cleaning

Health food stores are also very good sources of green cleaning products. Get
to know some of the brands found there (Seventh Generation, Ecover) and then
search them out in bigger supermarkets, or ask your supermarkets to begin to
carry the brands. Mix and match green cleaning products with simple
do-it-yourself formulas using kitchen cupboard ingredients.

Click here for a
collection of my favorite formulas.

5. Natural Pest Control and Repellents

Most people don’t realize that if a pesticide is registered by the
Environmental Protection Agency, it means that it has been approved by the EPA
to be effective. The registration does not mean that the product has been
approved to be safe. Many pesticides are highly neurotoxic, and all are
designed to kill. Choose natural and preventative alternatives instead. Here
are some excellent resources for alternatives to pesticides:

6. Natural Bedding

You can readily buy sheets, mattresses, comforters, and blankets made of
natural materials. Organic wool and cotton mattresses are highly recommended to
avoid sleeping on mattresses made of synthetic ingredients including
formaldehyde, biocides, stain protectants, fire retardants, and materials
containing neurotoxins. In general, my experience is that it is hard to find a
wide range of organic natural fiber bedding locally, so instead I tend to buy
these products online or through catalogs. A good resource for finding current
natural bedding companies is Natural Home and Organic Style

7. Natural Furnishings

All the same suggestions apply to natural furnishings as they did to bedding in
regards to cushions and fiber-based furnishings. Additionally, look to natural
carpets and carpet backing, wood furniture that has been finished with natural
sealants, and avoid pressed wood furniture because it contains formaldehyde. My
experience is that online and catalog shopping provides the widest selection. A
good resource for recommended products is The
Green Guide

8. Natural Renovating and Building Supplies

Every time you renovate, paint, or build, choose the least toxic, most natural,
inert materials. One online store that is an excellent resorce is The Environmental Home Center. Another is NEEDS. A good resource for finding recommended brands
is The Green Guide.

9. Natural Pet Care

My rules of thumb for pet care is to never use synthetic pesticides of any
kind, give them food that doesn’t contain animal byproducts, and to use natural

10. Natural Consumer Choices —General

Always choose the most natural, inert ingredients, and read labels. I’ve found
that even products for teens, such as cosmetics, usually have at least one more
natural version.

Always look to label’s signal words, and don’t buy anything with a label
stronger than the word caution.


Vintage wedding gown from 1800’s!

The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists Convention a few weeks ago

Vintage Gown from 1800's
Quite old but still in great shape!

 proved to be so helpful. Not only did we learn how we can help you, the bride, take care of your precious memories but we were presented with a piece of history that had been preserved since the 1800’s! Can you imagine finding a wedding gown from your ancestors in almost perfect condition? Well, think of your family and how they will feel when they get to experience your special day when you show them your dress? Bring your dress in for a consultation and let us help you restore your memories.