Open thread: What to do with my dress after the wedding?

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Dresses on Us
Thanks to Offbeat Bride 2dBride for uploading this fabulous photo to the Flickr pool.

I'm making my own wedding dress… and I just don't know what I'm going to do with it afterwards. If it was going to be a shop bought dress, I wouldn't have an issue selling it, but because of the amount of work that I'd be putting into it, I think it'd feel a bit odd to sell it… but on the other hand I think it'd feel odd to just keep it boxed up somewhere.I'm basically wondering what you will be doing with your dress after your weddings are over and done with. Keeping it? Selling it? Trashing it? Is it something you intend to wear time and time again?


I love this question! I rounded up some of my favorite ideas, beyond just “boxing it and saving it for later.”

  1. Hem it and turn it into a shorter cocktail dress.
  2. Dye it.
  3. Donate it to a charity like Brides Against Breast Cancer.
  4. Frame a piece of it, especially a section that shows off the custom work.
  5. Turn it into a costume for either Halloween or Comic Con.
  6. One Offbeat Bride reader explained, “I'll use the fabric to make a tallis (prayer shawl) for me and for my Hub. I'll get the part with bling on it, he'll get the plain white part. There should be enough to go around. And it would be a fun (but expensive) way to have memories of the day that we could wear every sabbath.”
  7. Turn it into a quilt. Another reader said, “I was thinking that what I'd do is cut it up with other old and special clothes (the shirt I wore the day my fiance and I started dating, and other sappy and sentimental things) and turn them all into a quilt that we could keep on our bed or I could make a small one for each child we eventually have.”
  8. A third reader had a similar idea, “I plan on saving it and having a baby blanket made out of the material for each child that we have (hopefully two). I didn't wanna just keep it in the attic and didn't think I'd wanna part with it either so this idea hit me in the face one day as a way to (pardon the oncoming mush fest) wrap our babies in our love.”
  9. Make art with it. Wear it for a trash the dress, or rock the dress session, or a photo project a la Sonya Naumann's 1000 dollar dress.
  10. Turn it into art with a wedding dress painting.
  11. Use it to cover your wedding album.
  12. Turn it into a pillow case (this was suggested by my husband who spent our wedding night sleeping on my raw silk wedding dress — he slept like a baby.)

Now on to you guys… any more ideas on things you could do with your dress after the wedding?

Comments on Open thread: What to do with my dress after the wedding?

    • Similarly, I posted my first wedding dress on reddit under a giveaway or assistance subreddit. I met a lovely girl on the other side of my state who was just my size and delivered it to her in person. Before I gave it away, I had a reddit alien logo tag sewed inside the dress. I hope the reddit wedding dress is still making the rounds, this was back in 2010.

  1. If you’re religious (and especially if your dress is white), maybe you could turn your dress into a child’s outfit for a christening, First Communion, or other coming-of-age event.

    You could use some small pieces to make fabric mats for wedding/family photos.

    Sew scraps into fabric flowers for a bouquet, hair band, etc.

    • I saved the scraps from making my sister-in-law’s wedding dress to make a christening gown for her future kid(s).

      • Our christening gown started out as my great grandmother’s wedding dress. It was re-made into my Nanna’s first communion dress, then re-made into a christening gown that my dad, his sisters, my sisters and all my cousins, and now my nephew have worn. It’s so completely woven into my family’s history – 5 generations and counting!

        • That’s what I’m doing with my grandmother’s wedding gown. My aunt and my mother wore it so my cousin (so close its scary) are making a Christening/photo gown for our children. I’ll probably turn my own wedding dress into a nice quilt.

    • I totally meant to use the leftover fabric from my dress to make the outfit for my son’s bris. At least, that was my thought when I got married. I totally forgot about it while I was pregnant 😛

    • My grandmother turned my dress into a Christening gown for either a girl or boy. The outer sheer layer unbuttons and comes completely off the dress if a boy were to wear it, leaving it entirely plain, white satin. She even made a girl’s bonnet, and a boy’s cap for it as well. So far, our 3 daughters have worn it – and one of these days I plan on cross-stitching their first & last initials along with the year they were baptized, on the inside of the dress somewhere. I hope it becomes a keepsake to pass through the generations.

  2. I’ll be able to wear mine again, it’s just a cute short red dress, we bought it at a cute little boutique 🙂

  3. But what do you do if it’s already been like 9 or 10 years? I don’t have any consignment shops in my area (Alaska) that will take them, and that Brides against Breast Cancer place only wants them from 2005 and more current. Mine was in 2001 and it was a very traditional style (long sleeved, more ball gown-ish, not frou-frou-y). I’ve had mine in it’s box since after my wedding, and have tried to sell it before and got no takers. My older daughter (she’s 7) said she wants to wear it when she gets married (awww how cute) but of course she could change her mind by then. It would help if I had no qualms about cutting things up I think.

    • Laurel, tons of the ideas in the post are relevant to older dresses. There’s no time-limit on framing, hemming, quilting, art-making, etc.

    • Depending on your budget you could frame the whole dress and hang it in your bedroom. Or hang your dress up from a lovely hook on a fabulous hanger. Another option is to combine the two ideas by hanging an empty frame on the wall then hanging the dress on the hanger inside the frame. Maybe your daughter will not change her mind.

    • I’m in the same boat, Laurel. Mine is 12 years old and still hanging in my closet. If I could fit into it again I’d love to do a trash the dress session. It might be fun to have it altered to fit now and do that. Then I’d love to have a sketch made of it … and perhaps into the dress up bin? Halloween costume every year? I’m inspired to have some fun with it, for sure!!

    • Long sleeved wedding dresses are currently difficult to find in most mainstream stores. I’m currently looking for a wedding dress with sleeves, and they are really difficult to find. I bet if you put it up for sale online, someone would buy it from you.

    • i dunno… i feel that your daughter might find that a nice gesture. I always dreamed of having my moms. unfortunately we couldn’t, but i wish i could have. It would be cheaper to fix up another dress than to buy a brand new one. Keep it, since she says she wants it now!

      • I personally would keep it and get it packaged away safely. As a tip from a vintage dress seller who I’ve followed for a while’s site said, make sure that you pull it out once a year to check it and make sure its still good, ie. give it an airing. Then repackage it and store. That way your daughter can have it if she still wants it and can fit it when she gets older, and if not, then perhaps HER daughters/granddaughters might want it.

  4. For our renaissance/privateer/whatever wedding, my dress came in 5 parts (bodice, shift, crinoline, underskirt, overskirt). I have already re-worn my several times, once as a full ensemble, and several times as individual pieces.

    I think it would be neat to have a traditional dress separated into two parts – keep the bodice as a shirt/top, and then use the skirt for crafting or preserving. Good luck with whatever you choose to do 🙂

    • Same here! (mine was more goth/punk/victorian but same idea). Modular is definitely they way to go for maximum rewearability. It’s only been 5 weeks and I’ve already worn the underskirt once and the corset twice. I want to make some minor modifications to the petticoat and overskirt before I wear them again but nothing that will affect the overall design – just need to make them a little more durable and practical.

  5. I’m in the same boat since I’m making mine too. It is about 85% tulle so I can’t exactly do anything with it, plus there’s no way I could bring myself to cut it up. Since I don’t have the heart to harm one of my finest creations (two, actually) they’ll stay in one piece. The reception dress is easy to take care of, but with around 50 yards of tulle, the ceremony dress is too poofy to not be boxed up. Oh well.

  6. I don’t have mine yet, so it seems a little early, but I am already considering having it shortened, and framing a square of material from the bottom… will let you know after next August or so!!!

  7. I’ve also heard of people turning their wedding dress into a Christening/Baptism gown or outfit for their child.

    You might be able to make a new family heirloom out of scraps…Maybe make Christmas ornaments or incorporate pieces into a scrapbook or shadowbox.

    I think it would neat to put a piece in some sort of a see-through container & give it to your spouse to carry around as a reminder. It would also be a cool thing to lend to friends & family who are marrying to give them ‘luck’.

    My main suggestion is to hold off a bit (maybe give it a year), so you have enough time to decide what you want to do with it. It would be really awful to do something drastic & then change your mind (or come up with a better idea!)

  8. If I can bring myself to cut it up, i’ll use it to make a replica dress for one of the dolls I make. That way I can always keep it with me in convenient 30cm size!

  9. My wedding dress from my second wedding was turned into crafts project, it was a simple satin ivory dress with white lace top. I turned it into and angel for my christmas tree (topper) every year and the rest was turned into a tree skirt for the tree as well. I lost the tree skirt but still have that beautiful angel. I actually use her year round for display and put on tree at christmas time. Even though Im divorced I enjoy my angel because I created something positive out of a bad situation.

    • Ooh, never heard the Christmas angel idea before–that’s a great one! I’m not sure I’ll have the heart to cut mine up but maybe I can save some scraps from hemming to do that.

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