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

Updated Nov 18 2015
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?

  1. my dress was completely destroyed by the end of my wedding. just covered in dirt and sangria and beer and champagne and cake, it seriously looked like the comforter from a crime scene. so i cut off the sash and threw it away. i got it for $250 at Filene's Running of the Brides so i didn't feel that bad about it. it would've cost me more than that to clean it, and for what?

  2. My sisters each take out their wedding dresses 1-3 times a year and wear them around the house. They like to look pretty and remember that day. I know I will do the same! I'm also thinking about having parties where my sisters and I can hang in our dresses!
    I got a cheap $20 sundress for the out door summer reception if my first dress feels too hot or uncumfortable. My plan is to wear or rewear the dress on our honeymoon.
    And don't forget, if the dress still fits you can always wear it for vow renewals. Or I've been to a anniversary party where the dress was hung on a dress form by the pictures. There is also a tradition where the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom have their wedding dresses displayed at the reception.

  3. I have to agree with some previous commenters: make it modular! I had a corset, a simple overskirt, a petticoat, and sleeves (like handless long gloves). No idea when I will re-wear the sleeves (unless it's just around the house!) but the corset can be dyed any color (since it's white currently) as can the skirts, so I could end up with a very sweet modular costume.

    However, I am still too nostalgic and in love with how I looked to do anything permanent to it yet. I think I will have to take the advice here and wear it a few times throughout the year first. 🙂

    • Oh, and the skirts have elastic waists (why not, under a corset?) and the corset is totally adjustable, so I can wear it all no matter how my weight changes. 🙂

  4. My college roommate's sister (convoluted, I know) donated her dress to a charity that used wedding dressed to make shawls to cover lost children to be buried in. I very much appreciated this gesture when I lost my nephew this year.

  5. I know packing it the dress away seems like a waste, but a lot of the surviving gowns from before 1900 are wedding gowns (in many different colors!) that were tucked away and never worn or worn only gently. So if you do put your gown in a closet somewhere, you may well be doing museum curators and antique gown collectors of the future a huge favor. Extra points if you include information about the wearer, the wedding, etc. so that it will have a provenance for historians.

  6. I couldn't bare to part with it. I'm not one to hang on to clothes, but it's too special to get rid of or even alter it for other occasions because it will wear out faster. So, this is silly but it'll be my anniversary outfit every year. We'll wear our wedding clothes and dance around the house like fruitcakes, but happy fruitcakes.

  7. The bottom of most wedding dresses have the amazing potential to be a beautiful Christmas tree skirt….

  8. My sister turned her wedding dress into the christening gown for her first child (a girl). She saved the cut up dress, and a few years later when she had twins (boy and girl), she used the original christening dress and made a suit for my nephew.

    • This is such a great idea! We offer the same service for our clients for all of the dresses we make. What could be more meaningful for a child's first formal garment than one's own wedding gown?

      (and at least the dress isn't sitting unused in a closet!)

  9. Theatre programs- high-school, university, and otherwise are great places to share your donations, too! There are enough shows that have weddings in them- Mama Mia! jumps to mind- and a small production company may not be able to afford a dress. They may also re-purpose bits and pieces for other costumes. This is a great place to pass off those dresses that are older- it may not matter for the production!
    For myself, I have a delightful Bobinette sheath from Vera Wang and I'm aiming to wear it as many times as possible. For the wedding in December and its following reception; a reception in summer of 2012 in his home-town; and on the cruise we're taking as a honeymoon- they have one night of fancy-dress!
    Good luck ladies and I look forward to seeing the great ideas!

  10. My grandmother turned her dress into four 'memory bears' for her daughters since it had been hanging in her closet for decades. The buttons on the back were used as eyes, and each bear even got a mini veil made from her veil. Since you're making your dress, maybe you can re-make it into something like that (or another animal that's more special to you – I'm considereing making mine into a dragon…)

  11. My mum's a Roman Catholic and her family tradition was that you can't tell anyone your baby's name until they're christened. So she made her wedding dress into my christening gown. It came out beautiful as she had a lot of lace, I'm hoping to use it for when I have a child for their christening ceremony.

  12. My dress is being handmade by a dear friend. The top part – a deer hide corset – I'll likely wear often.

    The skirt? I'm going with a linen or woven silk, and will likely alter it slightly to be wearable casually later on the road. Light weight, white clothing of any sort is something wonderful in the summer in the south. 🙂

    The wife of one of my best friends however, has vowed to wear her wedding dress on their anniversary every year for as long as she can fit into it.

  13. I plan on half-making mine. I'll be buying a white corset, then making two different tiered tulle skirts with ribbons in he wedding colors at the edge of each tier, a long one for the ceremony and a short one (or maybe make a couple tiers detachable) for the reception. All 3 parts will be at least somewhat re-wearable, especially the lovely white satin corset I have my eye on. All it takes is a change in ribbon color to make it go with anything

  14. I know I'm a bit late to this post, but if there's anyone else out there still looking for inspiration or ideas for reusing their dress, I'm thinking of converting mine into a steampunk costume, shortening it in the front and creating a dramatic bustle in the back (I'm sure someone else has done this already and I'd love to see their pictures!). I'm also doing a "Save the Dress" photoshoot instead of a "Trash the Dress" shoot, either a few months after the wedding or on our wedding anniversary. 😀

  15. I havent read every comment to know if this has been suggested – but I have seen a company who turns wedding gowns into tiny dresses/outfits for tiny babies who passed away at birth/were born still – something beautiful for them to be buried in…. I think its an amazing way to do it

  16. I fall into so many conflicting categories here. My dress can't be shortened because of the construction (diagonally wrapped lace). I have unusual proportions, so I doubt I could find someone else who can wear it to rent it to, and if I were to donate it, I wish them luck ever giving it to someone. It looks decidedly wedding-y, so wearing it out as an evening dress probably won't fly. I doubt it can be dyed, because it's layers of lace with crystal appliques. I can't even conceive of destroying it, the way I (like Ariel said so elegantly) can't conceive of destroying guitars on stage "for the spectacle" or anything carefully crafted. I'm not religious, so no baby-things or child-things to make it into.

    It seems like I'm stuck with a dress no one will ever wear again that I can't bring myself to damage. The only things I've seen here that I could do with it are to give it to a fashion design student to play with or to wear it when I'm feeling down, neither of which really excite me. But it's months to go; maybe I'll have an epiphany.

  17. I have this grand plan to make mine, and I want to save it to hand down to my daughters if one of them likes it. What they use it for will be up to them. But if I put all this work into hand sewing lace and things, then I definitely want to keep it in the family.

  18. When my wife and I got married, we wore similar shirts in the same color (burgundy) which we can and often do wear often. For our vow renewal ceremony (which will happen once we have a chance to put money aside for it because while there was nothing lacking with our super-short-and-sweet JP ceremony, we're nerds and, at the very least for the sake of our family and close friends we want to have a proper party), we plan to have a Doctor Who cosplay going with her dressed up as the Tenth Doctor and me dressed up as the Eighth Doctor–and with the work I'll have to put into making that frock coat for my costume, you'd better believe I'm going to find reasons to wear it again (Halloween, conventions, etc.)!

  19. My wedding's in 2 weeks, but there's an organization I like in Dallas that's called NICU Helping Hands. They turn wedding dresses into beautiful angel gowns for children that pass prematurely in the hospital. At such a difficult time in a parent's life, I'd like to think that the gift of a tiny gown made from my beautiful wedding dress could be a small comfort to that family.

    For more information on the Angel Gown program and how to donate:

  20. There is also an amazing organuzation( I will find the name if you desire) that takes donated dresses and makes them into burial clothes for premie and infant burials. Each dress can make 12-15 outfits! Seamstresses donate their time and the parents have a loving beautiful parting gift full of love!

  21. I fully intend on rewearing my dress when my FH and I renew our vows a few years down the road. Since we are having a small-ish wedding where not many of my father's side of the family will attend, we are going to have a vow renewal ceremony where everyone can attend and see the dress in person.

  22. Recently on one of my FB groups a woman created a baptismal outfit for a brides new daughter out of her wedding gown. I thought that was the neatest idea for a wedding gown.

  23. My grandmother used my mother's dress as doll clothes for dolls she made for my sister and me. My sister has both of them somewhere.

  24. I'm having mine hemmed shorter & dyed.
    The off cuts Will be used to make a dress for my little girl. The dress is made of pure silk so is ideal for a party dress! 🙂

  25. When I worked at an alterations shop it was common to have brides bring us their dresses to refashion into christening gowns for their children. We created some very intricate heirlooms out of dresses that we had often made ourselves or at least altered.

  26. I wound up selling mine through craigslist, which was a little bit of a hassle, but I got to meet the bride-to-be who purchased it and got to witness her 'this is The Dress (and it fits perfectly and is affordable)' moment. Letting go of something so sentimental was a little challenging, but seeing her reaction, I just knew it was the right thing for me to do. I feel like I got to help make someone else's wedding that much more what they wanted.
    My mother kept hers in an airtight box until I needed a wedding gown for a high school play. It fit around the waist/hips, but was several inches too short, so this was probably my only chance to wear it (without major alterations — and by the time I was ready to get married for real, it wasn't close to fitting). She does still have it, and maybe someday she'll have a grandchild who can wear it…

  27. I plan to do a huge-ass shadow box with some kind of wedding collage, that we can hang above our bed in the bedroom. I saw something similar on Pinterest:
    However, since the wedding is about us and not just about me, we want to include items from both of us. Maybe the vest and bowtie of my partner as well as some items from the wedding (invitations, menue, decoration…). I think I'll have to contact a carpenter and have the box custom made, because it's not something that can easily be bought around here. 🙂

  28. Mine is getting turned into a Faerie costume. It's giving me an excuse to make new wings! I'm also trying to decide whether or not to permanently bustle it or leave the train… hmm decisions decisions

  29. I volunteer for a charity called Angel Gowns who take donated wedding gowns and make them into burial clothes for stillborn babies and babies up to 1 year old who have died. They make lovely gowns and means the family don't have to go out and try to get something which can be very stressful.

  30. Ours will be continually worn. I don't skimp on quality of material and craftsmanship, so the fact that our Nordic-inspired wedding outfits will be IMMEDIATELY worn again the following weekend at Denver Comic Con, followed by a couple weeks later to the Colorado Renaissance Faire is no issue. I can't stand the thought of something that has so much time and money put into it only being worn for one evening, and since our designs are less the traditional modern attire, we can do with it what we want and not worry about feeling weird.

  31. Do have some fun with your dress and do a trash the dress session.
    You can donate your trashed wedding dress to the project 'Save The Dress'

    Your dress will be restored and donated to girls in need, who like to get married, but can't afford a dress for their most beautiful day in life.

    Dresses in all sizes and colors are welcome.
    Dresses not used in trash the dress sessions are welcome too.

    All shipping charges will be covered by 'Save The Dress'

    I hope that some of the readers are interested to help.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year


  32. I make Kanzashi flower headbands and combs from beautiful bridal gowns that are too damaged or stained to be reworn… It's fabulous mixing taffeta, stains, silks and chiffons together in an arrangement then decorate them with vintage pearls and rhinestones or old earrings. also here in the UK there are charities that remake the donated whole dresses into angel gowns for stillbirth babies and we have a charity that arranges swift weddings for terminally ill people called the Wedding Wishing Well Foundation.

  33. Donate it to a local Angel Gowns group.
    They are volunteers who turn wedding dresses into little gowns for babies born sleeping or who become angels shortly after birth. They are usually given to hospital Neo-natal wards or to Funeral homes to dress the babies.
    Nothing is more beautiful than to see parents holing their little baby dressed so beautifully. It helps makes a tragic time a more beautiful memory.

  34. It'll hang in a closet until I'm convinced no daughter or daughter-in-law of mine will ever have an interest in it. I also have an extra yard of my lace. But I'm surely an exception, as this is what I do.

  35. I am planning to rewear my ivory lace dress for my December street circus performance that has a snow theme. I might have to let out the sides so it will fit over warm winter layers…but I'd rather do that than it sit around unworn. Hopefully I'll think of other costume uses over the years. Oh and we're planning on doing a "second reception" party in January for our friends who couldn't make the wedding so I think I'll wear it then too.

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