Donate, save or repurpose: What to do with the dress after the big day

2012-09-20T09:00:00Z Donate, save or repurpose: What to do with the dress after the big dayBy Carrie Steinweg
September 20, 2012 9:00 am  • 

After months of saving and searching and fittings, the wedding gown is worn for a matter of hours on the big day. And then what do you do with this garment that you’ve spent hundreds or thousands on?

Traditionally, a wedding gown is kept by the bride to pass on to her firstborn daughter. Others opt to recoup some of their financial investment by selling it and maybe even using the proceeds toward the couple’s new home or a second honeymoon.

Melissa Sullivan, of Schererville, Indiana, wasn’t sure her daughter would want to wear her dress when she got married, so she made it into a different kind of dress. Sullivan disassembled the dress herself and made a baptismal gown for her daughter, placing the beading along the bottom as it had been on her dress.

“I didn’t have enough fabric to do a baptismal outfit for my son, but someone suggested making a ring bearer pillow for my son for when he gets married and I thought that was a good idea,” she says.

Shari Maher, of Crown Point, Indiana, decided to donate her wedding gown, which had cost more than $2,000. “I gave it to Goodwill,” she says. “I wanted someone who couldn’t afford a dress like mine to have it.”

Things to do with the dress:

• Have the dress professionally cleaned and boxed to save for your children.

• Have the dress made into christening gowns for your children.

• Display it at home. If you have a spare room in your house, put it on display with other items from your wedding to remind you of your big day.

• Sell it. Find a consignment shop that specializes in bridal gowns, which will probably help you get a higher price for it.

• Use the fabric from the dress to be made into a quilt.

• Plan a “trash the dress” session with a photographer. Go to the beach. Buckingham Fountain. A vineyard. A farm field. Get pictures of you and your groom after the wedding without worrying about getting the dress dirty.

Places to donate a dress:

• Give it to Goodwill.

• Take it to the drama department of your local high school or university for use as a costume in a play or musical.

• Check with the private schools. Some operate thrift stores with proceeds going back to the school.

• accepts wedding dress donations that go to military brides.

• Your local historical society can put your dress on display to be seen by generations to come.

• Visit for more ideas on donating your dress.

• Visit to donate bridesmaid dresses to be used as prom dresses for disadvantaged high-schoolers.

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