What I Did with My Wedding Dress!

posted by Andrea | 04/19/2011

Where’s your wedding dress?

If you’re like most women, it’s carefully preserved, in a box, taking up loads of valuable storage space somewhere in your house. Or maybe it’s just hanging in your closet — still taking up equally as much storage space. Or maybe it’s in the attic, or the basement, or the garage, or…

Wherever it is, there’s a pretty good chance you will never wear it again.

You’re just storing it… because!

I love this picture, but we look like babies!

A wedding dress is one of those HUGE pieces of emotional clutter and while I don’t think you’re a bad person for hanging onto your wedding dress; I do want to challenge you to think about other alternatives to simply storing it for years without a purpose.

I often get asked what I did with my wedding dress, and I figured this time of year would be a good time to get a little wedding dress discussion going on!

So what did I do with my dress?

I cut it up!

Well, actually, I tried to sell it on Craigslist for $90 {which is what we originally paid for it} but I guess people don’t want to buy a used wedding dress.

So then, I decided to cut up the fabric — with intention of using that fabric to make baptism outfits for our children…someday.

The whole process took about twenty minutes, it was virtually painless {seriously it was!}, and I now have a pile of gorgeous fabric that takes up WAY less space than a wedding dress. Oh,  and I’ll eventually have another use for it once we have kids!

The picture below is a pile of the scraps that I cut off. Look how dirty the hem was!

So now, my “wedding dress” is stored in a very small, Space Saver bag that hardly takes up any room at all. It’s actually in the bottom of my dresser drawer with sweaters on top.

And I donated the poofy lining that was under the dress to Goodwill. I suspect some little girls are having a great time playing dress-up!

I was a teeny tiny bit hesitant right before I made my first cut, and I DID try the dress on one time before I cut it up {it was a little tight, but it still fit.}  Over all, I’m so happy to have all that extra space and to know that I’ve created another use for my wedding dress.

So what did you do with your wedding dress?

And for all the girls getting married this Spring and Summer, do you have any creative ideas for your dress after the wedding?

Does anyone know of a specific place to donate wedding dresses — or any charities that you could give them to?

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48 comments

  1. Andi Willis

    04/19/2011

    I LOVE this idea! I was married 18 years ago and have been struggling with what to do with my dress because it takes up SO much room. It’s been cleaned but not preserved. My kids are older (8 & 11) so no christening gowns needed but I had thought maybe my daughter would use the dress when she gets married just not in its current state. The style isn’t in style now and probably won’t be in 15 years or so when she gets married but the fabric will be. Great food for thought!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I agree that your daughters probably will not want to wear your dress…but the fabric could be usable! Think about it :)

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  2. Jamie C.

    04/19/2011

    Well, I haven’t gotten the nerve up to do anything with my dress…but my husband’s grandmother did for hers. As our wedding gift, she used portions of her dress (the lace, some of the fancy buttons, etc) and created a beautiful photo album for us! It’s such a treasure to us, knowing that we have a piece of her special day so many years ago!

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    Amanda Reply:

    How amazing! What a great idea. My boyfriend and I both recently lost are grandmothers. How awesome it would be to have something that had meant so much to them. Id love to see pictures!

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  3. MommieDaze

    04/19/2011

    Such a great idea! I don’t know if I could do that though. I’m one of those who has it preserved in a box. It did get used again. My sister-in-law was wore my dress when she got married. But it probably won’t ever come out of the box again.

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  4. Kelly Mott

    04/19/2011

    Great idea! I’ve been married for 17 years and actually sold my dress 3 months after I got married. Thankfully we have boys and I’ve never missed or regretted this decision! Now that I help others organize I see wedding dresses in almost every home – thanks for sharing this creative idea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay – how daring of you to give you dress away after only 3 months!! It even took me a bit longer than that to figure out what I wanted to do with mine! And like you, I’ve never regretted my decision either… after all, it’s “just a dress”!

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  5. Kim

    04/19/2011

    I love the fabric idea. Even if you save the trim and fabric for your daughter’s dresses. I mean,most dresses are so dated that your daughters will probably not wear them anyway. Mine won’t wear my dress. However mine is covered in beadwork, so I don’t know if I can save the fabric. My daughters are probably only a few years away from getting married so I might talk to them about it. One is a seamstress I’ll have to ask her about the fabric. Thanks Andrea!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, my dress was VERY plain — absolutely no beading, lace, or trim — so it was really easy to save all the fabric. And I’m certain I’ll be able to make baby outfits from it!
    However, if your daughter is a seamstress, she could probably incorporate at least some of your dress into her future dress…and that would be really special!

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  6. Marina

    04/19/2011

    I guess I’m not very sentimental… I decided I didn’t want to waste space by storing the dress, and gave it away to a charity that raises money for breast cancer research. Every year, they sell the dresses in a big event that earns quite a bit of money. So this way if I ever miss the dress (I haven’t yet and it’s been 4 years!) I can remind myself that I did a good deed :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m not sentimental either!! And I LOVE that you donated your wedding dress to help raise money for cancer — what a great cause!

    Oh, and I don’t think you’ll ever miss the dress — after all, you still have the pictures and the memories.

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  7. Kari

    04/19/2011

    My dress isn’t taking up any room at my house…it’s at my mom’s! ;)
    I love love LOVE my dress and wish I could wear it again. Not to get married, but just because. Unfortunately, there are no events on my social calendar that require such a dress. This idea really intrigues me. My daughter is nine months old and we plan to have her dedicated soon. I’m only seeing one problem…I really won’t be able to part with her little dress! :)

    Andrea, what do you plan to do with the little outfits you make for your future children after they wear them?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hey, at least the dress isn’t cluttering up your house! And no, I don’t think you’ll come across many more occasions to wear a wedding dress :)

    Seeing as though we don’t even have kids yet, it’s hard to say what I’ll do with the baptism outfits once our future children wear them. I’m assuming I’ll make one girl outfit and one boy outfit and then all our kids will wear them. Then, if they are still in good condition, I’ll probably just donate them…but I can’t really say for sure! Do you have any suggestions?

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    GroovieMom Reply:

    My husband’s grandmother made baptism gowns for each of her 6 children when they started having children (not from a wedding dress tho). Each family has their own gown to pass around. So, our family gown has been worn by my SIL, my hubby, my two nieces and my two kids. When my nieces and kids have children the gown will be there for each of them to use as well. My point is, if you make gowns for your children you don’t have to give them away just pass them down. They’re much smaller and easier to store than a wedding gown.

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  8. skye

    04/19/2011

    i have been trying to figure out what to do with mine and i think i just found it! ;) i tried selling it on craig’s list but had not one bite. i think (especially in my area) that girls are really into getting the biggest, most expensive one they can find. folks in my town aren’t the most economical.

    my cousin had her mom’s wedding dress made into hankies for the bridesmaids and that was really special because her mom had passed away several years previous.

    i have been able to wear my dress twice though – once in the wedding and once as a halloween costume (i was christine daae from phantom of the opera and my husband was the phantom!) so i feel like have gotten double the use out of it. i would love to find a charity to donate it to but if i can’t i think i am going to cut it up! :)

    great post – this is definitely something i think a lot of women struggle with. in my eyes – its just a dress! the vows and memories are the important part… move on! :)

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  9. Sue

    04/19/2011

    I don’t think I would ever do this.. I love my dress.. and that is it.. I know it is just a piece of cloth but I love it..
    It was the only thing that I cared about when we got married.. I know some people obsess over the flowers or the invites.. I really did not care about anything else. I just love my dress.. If my kids want to wear it some day that is fine.. or not.. and honestly it is not taking up that much room.. it is in a box with stuff stacked on it.
    :o)
    Sue

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  10. Kelly

    04/19/2011

    I had a very ornate and beaded satin gown. It had a 126in train and my veil went from the wreath on my crown to the end of the dress. It was long sleeved and high-neck (Victorian). I decided that I would store it instead of selling it, as we paid almost $1000 for it. I have three daughters but only one of them is built like me, so I really did contemplate selling it. However, I have decided that they can piece it out and share parts of it. One can use the veil, one can use the train, and one can incorporate the top of it somehow. Or they can cut it all apart and utilize it as fabric or just parts of the dress they like. Let’s just hope they don’t fight over the parts! lol

    [Reply]

    Kelly Reply:

    P.S….Mine is at my mother’s house, too, not in my house. :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that sounds like an amazing dress! I’m sure your girls will love using parts of it in their own dresses some day.

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  11. Katie

    04/19/2011

    I haven’t quite gotten up the nerve to pack it up and send it in yet, but I have decided to send mine to a charity that makes gowns for stillborn babies to be buried in. That may seem way sad and morbid, but after experiencing a stillbirth myself, and the way I was completely unprepared (there were not any shower gifts that were special enough for a burial….you want something really nice!) I think this is a really neat idea.

    Plus I have 4 boys. I was way taller than my mom, so I couldn’t wear her dress ( I would have loved to!! It was homemade by my great-grandmother!) and definately didn’t want to wear my mother in laws….to dated.

    Great topic!

    Here’s the link to the stillbirth site:

    http://marymadelineproject.org/

    Hope others will consider this option, too!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — thanks for sharing that link Katie. That sounds like a wonderful opportunity to use an old wedding dress.

    You should definitely send your dress in, I just know you’ll feel so great about it when you do!

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  12. alissia haig

    04/19/2011

    My grandmother made my dress, so getting rid of it really isn’t an option I’d consider. It also has a lot of hand beading on it, as well as mine & my husbands initials, so not sure if it could be made into anything for my girls….anyone have any ideas on what I could “repurpose” it for? I hate that its preserved and stays in my closet. I would love to somehow showcase the dress. I really don’t mind it “taking up space” as it really isn’t that big of a box, and has so much sentimental value to me. But I feel like after all my grandma’s hard and beautiful work, now know one can really appreciate it (the box has a small “window” to view a little bit of it, but doesn’t do it justice” .

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  13. The Diaper Diaries

    04/19/2011

    I bought mine second hand in Chicago at a bridal resale store. It was a Vera Wang originally $8000. I got it for $1000. Resold it after I got married on eBay for $500. So basically I got an $8000 dress that was my DREAM dress for $500. And I LOVE that I made someone else’s day as special as mine by passing it on.

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  14. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    04/20/2011

    Mine is at my mom’s too! I am storing it just….because, just as you said. That’s a great idea to save the fabric, but I shiver at the thought of making the first cut!

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  15. The Prudent Homemaker

    04/20/2011

    I was going to suggest that you could give it to a group that makes burial gowns. Newborns in Need is another place that makes burial gowns for babies that are stillborn or that die shortly after birth, and they accept wedding dresses to cut up for that reason.

    I made blessing gowns and a blessing outfit for my boys. These are the kinds of heirloom outfits that get passed on for generations.

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  16. Andrea

    04/20/2011

    Rosie, I’m so glad you and your girls are getting good use out of your wedding dress. It not just “taking up space” if you’re actually using it!

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  17. Caitlin

    04/20/2011

    There is a wedding blog that I love called A Practical Wedding. They have something called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress. Brides can pass along their dresses to another bride-to-be. They offer their dress and then get to choose from several brides. It’s cool because they get to know a little about the bride they are passing to and then get to hear about the wedding and see pictures. I’m not married, but I imagine it might be easier to part with your dress if you got to see how happy another bride was in your dress.

    Here’s a link to the site: http://apracticalwedding.com/tag/the-sisterhood-of-the-traveling-dress/

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Caitlin — I just checked out that website and it’s amazing! What a cool idea.

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  18. Emily

    04/22/2011

    Love this post! My dress it at my parents house but I’ve always debated about holding onto it. I have my mother-in-law’s dress at our house. She gave it to me to cut up and make dresses for my girls, ages 2 and 4. She had wanted to make baptism dresses out of it, but never got around to it. :) My sister is getting married in August and I’m making flower girl dresses for my girls, maybe I should use pieces from my wedding dress….hmm…you’ve inspired me! :) Thanks!!

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  19. Deb

    04/26/2011

    I’m definitely not a seamstress, but am hoping to have the train of my wedding dress be made into a Christmas tree skirt! I’ve also heard of using wedding dress fabric to make a skirt for a bassinette or a table skirt for a wedding cake table. Gosh, wish I could sew!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ha — a Christmas tree skirt! I’ve never thought of that…what a great idea! I also love your idea about a bassinette skirt. I’ll file both those ideas away…but now I might need more than one dress :)

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  20. Kari Wieringa

    05/20/2011

    Might I suggest doing a gorgeous photoshoot in it one last time before you cut it up?? :)

    I did with mine! (well kinda comes with the territory of being a photographer) And I cant say I have cut it at this point. But I LOVE the photos and it didnt get any dirtier then it already was.

    Then cut away! lol!

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  21. Rachael

    12/06/2011

    My mom kept her wedding dress and now I’m going to wear it when I get married soon. She never pressured me to wear it or anything – she was actually surprised that I wanted to but I love it. I am so glad she didn’t do anything to it!

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  22. ShannonP

    03/01/2012

    This is an old post, but I came across it while surfing through your blog today. My mom and I made my dress together, we hand-beaded it, everything. At the moment, it is still in my old bedroom at my mom’s house. I haven’t really thought about what I would do with it, although, I probably should since I’ve been married almost 12 years and I couldn’t fit into it again unless I caught the plague. (Three babies in four years will do that to a girl’s figure. LOL!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Your dress sounds lovely… And I wouldn’t worry too much about fitting in it again :)

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  23. cindy i.

    03/22/2012

    I recently moved from my home of 20+yrs and realized I had my wedding dress stuck in a corner waiting for the perfect idea. My dress was sewn by a family friend and was quite simple. The fabric is brocade satin. Anyway, I came across the dress and still can’t bear to get rid of it.

    I had another dilemma. We needed a new Christmas tree skirt. Christmas is such a special time of family and traditions. I was recently looking to replace ours but couldn’t find one I’d like.

    A neighbor saw my wedding dress as I was taking it away from the “old” house to the “new” house and said, “I’ve heard some people make Christmas tree skirts out of their wedding dresses.” All problems solved in one sentence.

    I haven’t decided on a pattern yet but I’m thinking cranberry velvet and applique’s or beads mixed with the brocade satin will be beautiful. I have two sons so they weren’t going to wear my dress anyway but they may want to have the family Christmas tree skirt made from their Mom’s wedding dress.

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  24. SMiaVS

    03/24/2012

    This is my favorite idea: http://www.bridesabc.org/ You donate your dress and proceeds go to breast cancer.

    [Reply]

  25. Lisa

    08/21/2012

    My daughter is getting married next year. She is my only girl so I offered my wedding dress to use as she pleases. We are going to try and dye the veil (mine is white, her dress is ivory) and try to rework the headpiece. My friend came up with the idea of making a small purse for her out of the satin skirt and beaded bodice. Maybe I wil hve three purses made, the other two for my future daughters-in-law.

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  26. Barb

    09/18/2012

    I came across your site while looking for organization in a small bathroom and just could not leave. My 2 girls played in my wedding dress and its still clean. Reading the different ideas about what to with the dress made me stop and think that I could cut up mine and use it in a quilt for each of them and their brother.

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  27. Heidi

    10/10/2012

    Great idea. I was able to sell my dress (thankfully!) for $25 less than what I paid for it.

    If I hadn’t sold it, I definitely would have gotten rid of it. It’s my belief that if you take great pictures, you are preserving the memory of your wedding day better than fabric in your closet that takes up precious space.

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  28. Courtney

    10/12/2012

    I wore my mother’s wedding dress, which my grandma had sewed for her. Mom had it preserved, and when I was frantically searching for a modest wedding dress (I was engaged for only 2 months), mom brought me hers. It fit absolutely perfectly. . .The dress is now preserved in the hope that it will fit my daughter, and that she will also love it. This is one of a few heirloom items I will never begrudge the storage space it uses.

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  29. Araba

    10/19/2012

    You are quite brave. I wouldn’t even think of cutting up my wedding dress! I loved it and whenever I look at it, all these happy memories come flooding back about the search for the dress, my engagement, my wedding day, and the beautiful family that was launched on that special day. I have preserved it and keep it in the garage. It is a beautiful idea to repurpose it for a major life event.

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  30. Araba

    10/19/2012

    Now that you have Nora, did you pull out the fabric from your wedding dress to turn it into her baptism gown, or something?

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  31. Cat Bovag

    11/08/2012

    I used my sister’s 37 yr old wedding dress to make 4 American Girl Doll wedding dresses for each of her children! Now I regret getting rid of my dress. I used every possible thing from her dress, including the old snaps! I will write a short letter and it will be given with the dress, so her children and grandchildren understand the meaning behind it. Two of her children don’t have girls, so I will cover two doll hangers with baby blue satin and they can be hung as a decoration. They are beautiful!

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  32. cher m

    12/31/2012

    My wedding dress has been sitting in the box from the dry cleaners for the past 29 years. I’m planning on de-constructing it for a new look when we renew our vows next fall.

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  33. Debby

    01/30/2013

    I know this is an older post, but I just came across your site a couple of weeks ago. I too cut up my wedding dress. My girls and I tried it on for fun. I had moved that thing to every spot in my house for 20 years and then decided to let it go. I had it cleaned professionally, however, they did not do a very good job. There were stains. I found the best areas along with the pretty lace and cut it out. I plan to use the pieces to make hankies for my daughters to carry on their wedding day. My girls would have never worn my 80′s wedding gown with big puffy sleeves. Not to mention that they are much taller than I. So now they will have something old to use, and I have a lot of free space.

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  34. Barbara

    07/02/2013

    What a great idea. I never thought about that. And don’t you just love pretty little christening gowns. Wonderful idea.

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  35. Julia K (Australia)

    09/11/2013

    I cut my wedding dress up too ! I made it into a christening gown and it has been worn by three of my four children. One was baptised at 8 months, one at 18 months and one at 7 weeks – yet the gown worked on all three. I was hesitant at first but am really happy with my decision. It is now stored in a box in my DDs wardrobe. My grandkids may or may not use it – but it takes up way less space than a 1980s pouffy dress :)

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