After months of searching and saving, you've found your perfect gown! And while the dress is certainly is near and dear to your heart right now, one question lingers: what will become of this very special dress after the wedding itself?
Many brides are taking a new look at the life of their wedding dress, post-ceremony as a way to create even more lasting memories (and sometimes things like decor, accessories, and jewelry, too!).
If you’re looking for ways to use your dress up, we've rounded up ten ideas for what to do with your wedding dress to make sure you make the most of it even after the wedding is old news!
1. Donate it.
This is probably one of the most common ways people get rid of their wedding dresses. If you’re in a pinch and simply don’t have the time, space, or energy you can easily give your dress to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores to ensure that your gown will get a second life with some lucky stranger in need!
If you feel like taking it up a notch and have a little more time on your hands, there are also tons of organization that will not just take your dress but run with it. Here are some of our favorite bridal charities:
- Brides Across America: Brides Across America is a bridal charity aimed at donating wedding dresses to first responders and veterans or their partners—gifting roughly 2,000 gowns to veterans and first responders every year.
- Adorned in Grace: Adorned in Grace doesn’t just accept wedding dresses but all formal dresses, as well! They resell donated formalwear and donate the proceeds to charity to help prevent human trafficking and support survivors.
- Brides Against Breast Cancer: Brides Against Breast has a similar model to Adorned in Grace, where they resell donated bridalwear and give the proceeds to support breast cancer research and other support systems.
- Brides for a Cause: Brides for a Cause again has a resell method where they donate the proceeds to other charities, focusing on women-oriented organizations and issues. What better way to celebrate this next chapter in your life by giving back to the rest of the world?
2. Make it into a work of art.
If you really want to be able to (literally) look back at your wedding dress every day, then why not take that wedding dress and make it into a piece of art you can hang in your home. You can actually frame your entire wedding dress, with a service like this, but you could also get creative yourself to make this happen on a much smaller scale.
If you’re interested in a DIY method, all you need to do is cut a nice, equal square from your wedding dress and slip it into a frame of your choice. For squares with more three-dimensional elements (such as bows or beading) just make sure you choose a shadow box frame so these elements don’t just get flattened out.
Dresses, veils, or garters can all be professionally framed into custom art, preserving the happiness of your wedding day for years to come. If you feel like going the DIY route, then consider a professional service.
3. Turn it into a gown for your little one.
Commissioning a custom christening gown has become an incredibly popular way to re-work a dress after the wedding. Most christening gowns are white and feature similar design elements (such as tulle or lace), so it’s a pretty simple swap. Plus whoever is sewing will have plenty of extra fabric to work with! You could even keep the old leftover fabric for any potential future children, as well, or for a matching outfit for your elder little one.
If your culture or family doesn’t participate in christenings or baptisms, you could also have your gown made into an outfit for a naming ceremony or just use it for a later birthday party for slightly older children. No matter how they wear it, making your wedding dress into clothes for your kids is a great way to give them a little piece of your big day.
4. Hem it into a cocktail dress!
You've worked with your seamstress to have the dress perfectly tailored...so why not reach out post-wedding to have a custom cocktail dress created? Your dress already fits like a glove, so why wouldn’t you want to wear it all over the place after its big debut?
Depending on the style of your dress, you may need to consider how well the top half of your dress will work with a new, shorter skirt. If you want to use it somehow, get creative with what you’re looking for from your design and work with your seamstress on something that will work! Either way, it’ll make for a great before and after photo.
A dress that is both loved and fits like a glove could become a great conversation piece at next summer's soiree. Or, wear it to your first-anniversary celebration!
5. Dye it for something totally different!
If hemming your dress into something a little shorter, just isn’t enough for you then it’s time to take it to another level and just dye the dang thing! In terms of creative ideas to repurpose your wedding dress, this one is a little more labor-intensive and may depend on the fabric of your dress (certain fabrics are more or less conducive to dying). But if you really feel like it’s out with the old and in with the new (looking, at least), then dye that dress for a total wedding dress redo. With this change, you could wear your wedding dress just about anywhere.
6. Transform it into something completely new.
Dresses made of satin, lace, or tulle can be transformed into beautiful evening bags like this Etsy shop makes! We love the idea of carrying your dress in clutch form to your first-anniversary dinner or any other anniversary dates for years to come. If staying in is more your speed, dresses can also be made into pillows or quilts, that way you can be reminded of your wedding day memories every day in your own home. What better way to add a cherished touch to your new home together?
If you want to completely repurpose your dress, accessories, decor items, even jewelry are perfect ideas to keep in mind.
7. Sell it.
If you're feeling the post-wedding budget crunch, you can make a little cash back by selling your dress. Try a wedding-specific website like Nearly Newlywed or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com that can help you sell your dress with ease. If you’re more of a DIYer then you can also list it on eBay or try Facebook Marketing to find your perfect buyer.
Not everyone gets sentimental about their wedding gown, so don’t make yourself feel like this if you don’t—you’ll still have all those good memories of the dress without having to keep it with you. If you’re planning to sell your dress, just make sure it’s what you really are looking for before you take the plunge.
8. Preserve it for posterity.
Every bride loves her wedding dress (or at least we certainly hope!), so if you’re not interested in creative ways to repurpose such a special garment then you can always preserve it to potentially pass on to your children someday. Even without the motivation to pass it on, it can still feel good to have the option to pull your old wedding dress out from the back of the closet to relive those special memories. Who wouldn’t want to wear their dress one more time? At least!
9. Loan it to someone else.
Who says wedding gowns can’t be lent out to friends? Not us, that’s for sure! We love what Spanx founder Sara Blakely did to give her wedding dress a second, third, even fourth life. She just lent it out and saved it for the next bride-in-need to wear on their own big day. What a perfect use for something that she otherwise would’ve worn once!
10. Trash it!
This last idea can be a fun way to send your dress off in style. “Trash the dress,” has become a popular trend for brides to blow off some steam and have a little fun after the actual wedding is done. Brides have swum underwater, played in muddy farms, or even set fire to their frocks. This happy “trash the dress” photo op shows just how fun it can be to make a bit of a mess with your wedding dress. With a photographer standing by, trashing your dress can create fun and beautiful photos.
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