I can only imagine the hundreds of dresses you tried on before finding “the one.” Ultimately, you’re stuck with a dress that doesn’t suit you and that you’ll never be able to wear again. Whether you intend to keep or sell your vintage wedding dress, this guide will help you make the right decision.
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To get rid of a wedding dress, one might either sell it or give it to a charity. The fabric can also be repurposed into an evening gown or a set of children’s clothes. Make quilts, holiday ornaments, record covers, or toss cushions out of the clothing to keep the memories alive.
This essay will show you seventeen unique ways to recycle your bridal gown. Additionally, you will acquire the skills necessary to bargain for a reasonable price on a previously owned wedding dress. After learning how to recycle a dress, the next step is to disassemble one.
What To Do With Old Wedding Dress: 17 Ideas
There are a lot of things you may do with your old wedding dress, such as selling it or keeping it as a keepsake. Dresses can be used for a variety of occasions, including christening garbs and zombie weddings.
You and your new spouse deserve some downtime after the wedding to rest and become acquainted. However, before the honeymoon can begin, there is typically a long list of things that need to be done after the wedding, such as writing thank you messages and figuring out what to do with the wedding dress.
If you’d like to pass on your dress, you can do so by selling, renting, or donating it.
Consider donating your stunning gown to a museum or displaying it proudly in your own house as an alternative to throwing it away. You can make quilts and pillows out of it, for example, or turn it into keepsakes and artwork for your new home.
Even if you plan on throwing a “trash the dress” or “zombie wedding” party, there are plenty of reasons to hang on to your wedding gown.
If you share Marie Kondo’s view that an item of clothing has fulfilled its function and brought you happiness, then you might as well put it to use. Your wedding dress can be donated to a worthy cause and given to a deserving bride who otherwise might not be able to afford one.
While donating your wedding gown is a thoughtful way to share the happiness you felt on your big day, keep in mind that many charity will want you to get it properly cleaned first. Remembering the lively dance routine you performed at your wedding can help you to see the reason why.
Donating unwanted items is easy with dropboxes at Goodwill and the Salvation Army. When deciding where to donate your wedding dress, you may want to consider partnering with an organization that specifically helps women in need.
Proceeds from the secondhand sale of wedding dresses are given to a charity selected by the bride and groom. For instance, Adorned in Grace donates all of its earnings to the cause of ending human trafficking. There are a lot of worthy causes that could use donations, not just hospitals helping new mothers.
Nonprofits like Dress for Success provide formal attire to individuals in need, including service members and those dealing with terminal illnesses. Support groups for military families include Brides Across America, which aids military wives and women in the service, and Wish Upon a Wedding Dress, which gives wedding dresses to ladies dealing with significant health crises.
Wedding dress fabric and lace can be repurposed into infant funeral robes. This charity might help bring some solace to a family going through a tough time. There are a few good examples of organizations that offer this, including Newborns in Need and Angel Gown.
Many women’s most lavish apparel purchase is their wedding gown. You may feel emotionally attached to your wedding dress if you spend a lot of money on it. After all, the dress is a symbol of your pride and happiness on your wedding day. However, there are a few easy ways to maybe reclaim some of the cost of your wedding dress.
If you decide to sell your outfit, you might potentially make back half of your initial investment. To be sure, there are a number of factors to think about. If you want to sell your dress quickly, have a professional clean it and take good photos of it, then post them online.
Nearly Newlywed has risen in popularity as a place to buy or sell high-end or designer wedding gowns thanks to exposure on The Knot. The site also takes a 40% commission on any sales made after the initial $25 fee is paid. Shipping labels, however, are taken care of by the company.
Listing your wedding on Wedding Bee, a basic website with no frills, will cost you nothing. This website has a classifieds section where you may post your dress and wait for responses, much like Craigslist. Be sure to include details about the dress’s name or designer and eye-catching images if you want it to stand out from the crowd.
Instead of holding a public garage sale, you might advertise your clothes on sites like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace. Local consignment shops may accept wedding gowns; however, they will take a cut of the sale price.
3. Upcycle to Wear
Your wedding dress can have a second, unexpected life as a costume.
If you’re skilled with a needle and thread, an evening gown or cocktail dress for a formal event is within your reach. Check out the part on upcycling your old dress further in the post for some helpful pointers!
In addition, the upcycling process might be contracted out to a third party. For instance, Unbox the Outfit has a wide variety of dresses for any occasion, from day wear to a baby’s baptismal dress. Send your dress to a professional tailor and they will fix it up for you.
4. Upcycle as Kid Clothing
If you’re expecting a child, your wedding dress can be repurposed in part into a garment for the baby’s baptism or first communion. Baby girls might also benefit from a special silky blanket and lace headbands.
Although you’ll need some sewing skills to transform an adult garment into a child’s, you’ll benefit from having additional fabric on hand due to the diminutive size of children’s garments. This is also a great way to ensure that your wedding’s legacy lives on for years to come.
Earning some additional money may be as simple as renting out your wedding dress. Rather than a single payment, you’ll receive a stream of income. However, if you want to maximize your rental experience, you’ll need to put out some effort.
It’s easy to find a business that will help you find a rental unit. Online rental marketplaces like Rent My Dress and Borrowing Magnolia function similarly to AirBnB in that users can post ads offering their unused formal wear for short-term use. Wedding dresses can be rented by the hour, day, week, or month, just like a vacation rental.
6. Dye It
If the white color is removed and bright new colors are applied, this dress can be worn again, but not just for a wedding. Consider dying your dress to fit the occasion. Your wedding dress can be dressed up or down, from an elegant crimson evening gown to a colorful blue sundress, depending on your taste.
Today, many bridal gowns are made of polyester satin, a synthetic fabric. Synthetic fabric can be re-dyed with a chemical called Disperse dyes, but it’s a laborious procedure.
If you want to change the color of your dress, you should use a dye that is designed for use with the material it is composed of.
If you take the time to properly clean and store your wedding dress, it will continue to shine for years to come. When it came to preserving a wedding dress, previous generations had no other options. This made sense, since mothers routinely gave clothes to their daughters, who would then alter them and wear them again and again.
This is extremely unlikely at the present time. This, however, is not an excuse to ditch your gown. If you feel a strong connection to this dress, it would be wise to store it away somewhere it can be appreciated and possibly worn again.
You should take your dress to a bridal gown cleaner before attempting to maintain it. Some laundromats offer this service. The wedding dress should be washed as soon as possible after the ceremony so that the delicate fabric is not damaged by perspiration or spilled food.
You can prevent oxidation from happening on your gown by storing it in a container that doesn’t allow air to get in and sealing it up. This resembles rust but is actually the result of being outside in the elements.
Keep your garment in a dry, cool place if you want it to last as long as possible in pristine condition.
Nothing compares to the beauty of a bridal dress that has been lovingly sewn by hand for months, or even years. In light of this, some brides opt to keep their wedding dresses on display long after the big day has passed.
Include the veil and other accessories (such a headband or gloves) in framing your bodice. As an alternative method of exhibition, you may remove the dress’s laces, buttons, or other unique details and frame the resulting square of fabric.
You may even purchase specialized dress shadow boxes to display the complete garment. This is a great choice for your bedroom if you have the luxury of a spacious walk-in closet and are willing to splurge.
One of the most touching ways to hold on to your wedding day is to give new life to your old dress. You can celebrate the event for yourself or as a gift to your parents or grandparents.
Take this in any direction you like! One common way to preserve a wedding dress is to turn it into a quilt. You can even make a ring bearer’s pillow, a bouquet ribbon, or a garter to use again and again at future weddings.
If you’re crafty, making your own keepsakes is a breeze. Alternately, you can send your wedding dress fabric to a firm like Once Upon a Time Creations, where the employees can transform it into keepsakes.
If you want to keep your wedding dress around as a keepsake, you may use the fabric to make a stylish pillow. To add a last touch of elegance, consider draping your dress’s lace or ribbons over some decorative pillows.
Additionally, a square pillow cover can be made by someone with no prior sewing experience.
An extremely considerate way to reuse a wedding dress is to make gifts for the people you care about.
The flower girls and ring bearers in your wedding party can carry satin teddy bears you made yourself. Make the bridesmaids miniature drawstring pouches to store their jewelry in. A gorgeous fabric heart Christmas ornament could be your gift this year to your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones.
Whether you’re shopping for a man or a woman, a monogrammed handkerchief is always welcome. Dress accessories such as rosettes and ribbons can be reused to adorn soft hangers.
If you want to remember your dress but not keep the whole thing, you might turn the fabric into a necklace or earrings.
These long lace earrings could be constructed with only a few everyday craft supplies, including fabric adhesive to stiffen the lace. Little pieces of satin or lace from your dress could be stored in a snap-close glass pendant. Resin can also be used to encase lace or fabric for use in jewelry.
You can discover jewelers on Etsy who will make custom pieces from your clothes if you send them a sample, even if you don’t have any experience with jewelry making.
13. Hand Bag
The combination of lace and fabric can be used to create a beautiful clutch purse that can be carried with you forever after the wedding. You worked hard on your wedding dress, and it’s only fair that you get to keep some of the beautiful details you chose for years to come.
Making a handbag in the shape of a beach bag is simple enough for anyone to do. Clothing can be altered into handbags if desired. Particular Etsy stores, like After the Knot, focus on this niche.
14. Album Cover
Use your wedding gown as the cover of your photo album for added impact. Make one as a keepsake for the happy couple and/or their attendants.
In order to fully recall the events of the day, you can almost touch the fabric of your dress when you open the album and go through the photos. Amazing idea, by the way.
15. Keep as Costume
Making a costume out of your old wedding dress is another option. You may also store the gown away and occasionally let your kids use it for dress-up fun.
What if you saved it until next year’s Halloween? You may be able to become the Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster. You’ll be all set if you dress as a Renaissance princess, Cinderella, or Glenda the Good Witch.
For those who are theatrically inclined, donating a gown could be another possibility. Theaters often employ wardrobe masters whose job it is to alter an actor’s costume into a number of other styles for the stage.
16. Keep for Special Occasion
In your mind, your wedding dress may be something you can only wear once. If you prefer large romantic gestures, though, you may want to save the dress for a more momentous occasion.
You and your special someone might go out on a romantic date on your first anniversary. Dress up for a romantic candlelight dinner in your wedding gown.
On the other hand, you could keep your dress for a long time. Bring it out again on your 25th or 50th anniversary and renew your vows!
17. Trash It
If the idea of ruining your fancy dress gives you the willies, you might want to skip this part. However, after the big day is over, some brides relish the release of throwing away their wedding dresses at a celebratory “trash the dress” celebration. Most commonly, paint, tomatoes, or other acidic substances are used to “distress” the clothing.
A “zombie wedding” party can be staged if the bride chooses to make her attire the focus of the occasion. Invite your guests to dress up in their finest wedding clothing or formalwear and their scariest zombie makeup as a special treat.
How Much Can I Sell My Wedding Dress For?
Your pre-owned wedding dress’s selling price will depend on factors such as its age, designer/brand, and condition. In perfect condition, a wedding dress that is less than two years old can fetch as much as fifty percent of its original price. It is possible to recoup as much as 70% of the retail price when selling a designer garment.
But let’s say you want to pay back some of the money your mom spent on her wedding attire. If you become divorced and no longer care about the happy memories associated with wearing your wedding gown, that’s a much sadder scenario. Your older dress is most likely not in this season’s fashion, so you may not get as much of the original price back if you decide to sell it, but you never know!
Do a search on eBay or Etsy for dresses that are similar in age, style, and brand to yours to get an idea of what a dress like yours may sell for. This should give you a ballpark figure to use if you decide to sell your outfit.
If you’re still on the fence about how much a wedding dress will set you back, a calculator like this one can help.
In any case, getting your garments professionally cleaned will increase their marketability and therefore their likelihood of selling. It is also feasible to have the photographs of the dress posted online have been staged by a professional photographer.
How to Cut Up a Wedding Dress to Upcycle It
If you plan on upcycling your wedding dress, it is imperative that you do not lose any of the delicate embellishments when doing so. Some guidance is provided below:
- Prior to getting started, think about what ornamental elements you’d like to keep. Shadowboxing, for instance, could help the lace bodice at the rear. Don’t rip it to shreds if that’s the case; instead, frame the relevant bit and display it proudly!
- Use a seam ripper to undo the stitches holding the dress together. You can get the outfit back into its component parts if you’re patient enough. Another option for saving huge pieces of fabric is to use a pair of sharp sewing scissors to cut close to the seams.
- Before you get started, visualize how you want the final product to turn out. Although not much fabric is required to make a bouquet wrapper, quite a bit of fabric is required to sew a first communion dress.
- You may be able to remove the lace, ribbon, or other embellishments from the garment without tearing it up if the pieces are small enough. The dress still has many potential uses.
What To Do With Wedding Dress After Divorce
It’s up to the individual to decide what to do with the garment after the divorce. There are those who would prefer not see it anymore and would rather see it given or sold.
Whatever you decide to do with your wedding dress after your divorce is a reflection of your current mindset. People who no longer find its presence desirable may prefer that it be sold or donated instead of kept.
How a former bride or groom feels about their wedding dress after the ceremony is over affects their options. Some people might want it given or sold since they have no use for it anymore but are unable to let it go.
Where to Sell or Buy a Used Dress
You might not know where to look first if you want to buy or sell your wedding dress. Consider using many platforms to advertise your dress sale or purchase. To participate actively in the sales process, you may be required to pay a commission.
- For a young couple just starting out, selling a property involves a $25 listing fee plus a 40 percent commission.
- With a minimum sale of $50, Tradesy takes a fee of 19.8 percent.
- A standard listing is $20 one time, and a premium listing is $30.
- Used wedding gowns can be listed for $25.
- Poshmark takes a standard 20% cut of every sale.
- WedBee.com is a free service for wedding planners.
- Selling a once-worn shirt for $20 with the description, “Wore it once”
- How Do I Dump a Wedding Gown? For the low, low price of $29.97, you can have a premium listing.
- Prices for newlyweds to list their homes start at $19.95.
The Facebook Marketplace is another viable option. Bridals by Madison owner Madison Blackburn is confident that her business will always have a customer who needs a wedding dress. When selling on Facebook, “there are no transaction or consignment costs.”
Looking to make a local purchase or sale? Local secondhand shops may charge a larger commission rate than national chains, so keep that in mind.
Where to Donate Your Dress
One wonderful way to spread the love is to donate your dress to one of the following organizations:
- Women from all around the United States are coming to the United States to be married.
- Impeccably attired
- Weddings with a Purpose
- Awareness Campaign for Bridal Cancer
- Potential spouses from Haiti are being sought.
- Angel Gowns Distribution Program
- Budget Fairy Tale Weddings
Tips for Selling Your Dress
Make sure to include photos.
According to Richardson, the most important aspect of selling your dress is to include high-quality photographs. Sharing images from your wedding day can help inspire other women to plan their own special day. Gowns look nicer on a woman than they do hanging on a rack. If you don’t want other brides to see your wedding photos, then don’t forget to include some pictures of the dress on your body.
Buying a home is a big deal financially and emotionally, so it’s important to address buyers’ worries and answer their questions thoroughly.
Cover your bases.
Only accept payments from trusted sources and retain records of all conversations with the buyer to be safe in the event of a dispute.
Finally, go back on how you felt when you first wore the garment. You should try to put yourself in the position of the anxious brides you’ll be working with, and act honestly and politely toward them.
Numerous creative projects can be accomplished with a previously used bridal gown. There are a variety of ways to save your gown, like storing it away, turning it into a teddy bear or baby clothing, or turning it into a remembrance quilt. Dresses can be donated to worthy causes, rented or sold for extra revenue, or even just sold.
Reusing a former wedding dress can lead to many creative opportunities. Some options keep your wedding dress close at hand for years to come, such as displaying the complete gown in a large shadowbox. There are alternative ways to reuse your dress after the wedding, such as hosting a “trash the dress” party.
Should you finally decide what to do with your old wedding gown? What are your plans for it, if any? Will you be reusing it or putting it to another use? Leave your thoughts in the space provided below.