What should I do with my wedding dress?
September 22, 2010 7:46 AM   Subscribe

What am I supposed to do with my wedding dress?

We were married two years ago, and I had a beautiful wedding dress that has since been sitting in a closet (professionally cleaned, in the appropriate box). Obviously, it's not something I can wear to any other occasion. Even if we were to renew our vows in the future I'm not sure I'll fit in it by then (I'm not sure I'd fit in it now). We don't have any female relatives anywhere close to a marriageable age, and it's a really small dress so it's unlikely they'd fit into it either when they grow up. We're adopting a boy and there's no chance of surprise pregnancies.

I'm a very practical sort, so I brought up selling it, and my husband was rather apoplectic, though he didn't have any suggestions on what to do with it. My mother bought the dress for me and would probably be upset if I got rid of it, although she'd eventually get over it. I have the feeling she's still hoping for a granddaughter because she mentioned keeping it "just in case." Her other suggestion had something to do with tailoring it into a baptism gown or something else Christian-baby-related, I can't remember, but I'm not Christian (which she knows, but whatever, that's another question).

So what do I do with it? If I sell it, will I regret it someday? (Note: I have not even opened the box in two years.)
posted by desjardins to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My wife just sold her wedding dress after over three years of trying and she was glad to be rid of it, even though we have a baby girl and two nieces. It took many listings on Craigslist, and one failed trip to the consignment store. I think she at least got back the money she spent having it cleaned.
posted by mkb at 7:50 AM on September 22, 2010

I think it really depends on how you feel about it. You have lots of pictures of it, no doubt. If you're not sentimental about it, don't stress it. I think sell it and use that money to buy something beautiful and lasting for your home -- a piece of artwork, a beautiful bowl, something well-crafted that may indeed become a family heirloom. Don't tell your mother that you plan to sell it or did sell it. If it ever comes up, many years into the future, you can fess up then.

I still have my dress. It's in a box. I was bummed that I couldn't try it on a few years ago just for yucks without breaking the seal. I have no idea what I'll do with it but it's undoubtedly out of style so I probably couldn't sell it now. Luckily, my mom is keeping it for me. If it was living in this house, it probably would have been sold by now. I have lived in tiny places all my life and that would have been culled years ago.
posted by amanda at 7:52 AM on September 22, 2010

Your wedding dress is beautiful. Instead of selling it, why not give it away to another bride? The wedding blog A Practical Wedding runs a series where brides offer up their wedding dress to other women, and it's one of my favourite parts of the blog. It's such a lovely idea to make a stranger's wedding extra-special with a random act of kindness.
posted by ukdanae at 7:53 AM on September 22, 2010 [14 favorites]

Maybe you could find a young woman of meager means who wishes to get married and donate it to her. I've had a few items that I wanted to sell in order recoup some part of the cost, but found it more satisfying to simply give them away to people who really needed them.
posted by klanawa at 7:56 AM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

My husband and I were in a fancy restaurant celebrating a major wedding anniversary when a young couple walked in to celebrate their one-year anniversary. The one-year "bride" had on her wedding dress, only with a denim jacket and high-cut red sneakers. She looked amazing. If you keep yours, wear it once in awhile for your sentimental spouse at home or out someplace special, then look at your wedding photos/video afterwards.
posted by Elsie at 7:56 AM on September 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

A friend of mine has hers on a tailor's dummy in their guest room, as a kind of exhibit. It's beautiful! But obviously you'd need the space for that. I have a few dresses that I've thought of framing - your dress is very three-dimensional though so that might or might not work. Otherwise, I love the idea of giving it away to somone who will love it as much as you and your husband did.
posted by tiny crocodile at 8:00 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Reuse the materials. For instance, get a four-poster canopy bed minus the canopy, or with a matching canopy, then make frilly bed stuff out of the dress.

Or burn it in a ceremonial fire.

Or give it to a girl who likes to sew and dress up.

Or get a manikin the right size, put the dress on it, and stand it in the corner. If he complains that you used to do or be something different, tell him to talk to the manikin.
posted by pracowity at 8:01 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Somewhat off the wall: could it be donated to the costume department of a local school or college's theater department? There are lots of plays that have wedding scenes.
posted by jedicus at 8:04 AM on September 22, 2010

You could take it to a tailor and have them make some spiffy stuff for you. I see some nice underwear and handbags and all sorts of other potential.
posted by effluvia at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really like the suggestions to give it to another bride, but if that would upset your husband and/or mother too much, how about making a covered photo album from it? You could do a wedding album or, in lieu of a christening gown, a baby book for your boy (congratulations, btw!).
posted by katemonster at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

My neice died a few years ago and her mother still has her wedding dress. Obviously, it means a lot to her, and to all of us also. She is very crafty, and plans to make fancy pillows, purses, maybe collages, and anything else that comes to mind and give them to us for gifts.
posted by raisingsand at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2010

How about making a quilt using some of the dress? It could be a keepsake quilt that you give your son. You could also use some of Dad's favorite t-shirts and other meaningful fabric. Perhaps make another quilt for your mom, as well.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:13 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mother-in-law kept her dress but then only had boys. So she used the fabric to make (1) the chuppah for my brother-in-law's wedding, (2) an embroidered runner that we used at our wedding and (3) a vest that my husband wore at our wedding (the fabric AMAZINGLY matched my dress).

I will consider using the fabric on mine for a memory quilt or something similar.

In other words, don't think you can't pass it down to your son -- it'll just get passed down in a different form.
posted by devinemissk at 8:17 AM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

If your mom would have a problem with you selling it, give it to her to store. It gets it out of your closet and it puts the burden of caring for it on her.
posted by inturnaround at 8:17 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want to donate your dress, there's always the Mary Madeline Project. They take wedding dresses and turn them into burial gowns for stillborn infants or premature babies that don't make it.

I don't see how anyone with a heart could complain about you donating your dress for such a great cause.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:18 AM on September 22, 2010 [9 favorites]

I donated my wedding dress: http://www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org/

Better for another bride to get her day out of it, than for the thing to collect dust in a closet for a few decades, until it's so out of fashion that nobody would want it even if it did fit.

I took a lot of pictures of it first, of course. My daughter (now 8) is very disappointed not to have it around the house, but I did keep my veil and headpiece, so I have something to hand down if she wants them for herself one day.
posted by Andrhia at 8:19 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

My first suggestion is definitely to donate it to someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford such a beautiful dress.

But to be honest, I if you think you might still be able to fit into it, I think you should do a "Trash the Dress" session! If you haven't heard of them, it's a photoshoot (sometimes done immediately after the wedding, sometimes up to a year or more after) that is similar to a typical engagement or wedding photoshoot, only the bride gets DIRTY!! Sometimes they're done near the ocean, or at a paintball course, or in an abandoned building. You end up with incredible looking pictures, because you're not afraid of getting the dress dirty.

If you do one of the milder ones (say, only getting sand or water on the dress) you could probably still donate the dress to the costume department of a school afterwards.
posted by hasna at 8:28 AM on September 22, 2010

We're adopting a boy

In this day and age you never know what HE might want to do with it someday...
posted by hermitosis at 8:29 AM on September 22, 2010

Response by poster: hermitosis, true, but I'm not willing to keep the thing for 20 years in the off-chance my son turns out to be a transvestite. I'll be happy to buy him a new dress in that case. :)
posted by desjardins at 8:36 AM on September 22, 2010 [9 favorites]

We used extra material from my wedding dress to make a christening gown. They can be worn by either gender if the child is a baby. The christening grown replaced one that had been in my family for a couple of generations but was destroyed in a house fire.
posted by onhazier at 8:37 AM on September 22, 2010

That's a gorgeous dress, and I kind of hate the thought of it cut up or trashed. Sell it or donate it.

(I should follow my own advice. Mine has been stuck in a closet...for 15 years.)
posted by JoanArkham at 8:54 AM on September 22, 2010

The Making Memories foundation is sort of like Make-a-Wish Foundation for people with breast cancer. They're largely funded by sales of donated wedding gowns (I bought my own dress at one). Your dress could go to another bride who might not be able to afford such a gorgeous dress new, and her money could help give a family one last big happy time with their dying loved one.
posted by Dojie at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2010

If you're crafty, you can turn your wedding dress into pillows or something for your new son or future babies. Perhaps you can take a piece of it (one with a decorative bit) and have it framed, so you can hang it on the wall. If you're ok with it, I would cut it up and use the fabric to make new things.
posted by katypickle at 9:26 AM on September 22, 2010

My very diabetic aunt puked on mine at my wedding, so there was not a lot of saving it anyhow. A friend's dad wore it to the Gay Prom at Burning Man (cleaned, of course).
posted by oflinkey at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops! Hit post-- so you could do something like this if you wanted. Another friend dyed hers pink and went as a fairy for Halloween. Wither way, costumes, donation, etc.
posted by oflinkey at 9:40 AM on September 22, 2010

If the dress is beaded (I can't tell from the photo) you might have the beads removed and made into a necklace as a memento and then discard the rest. I don't know how common this is, but someone suggested it as an option for my mom's dress, which I still have and which is not likely to be re-used.
posted by zadcat at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2010

As a broke person who's planning a wedding (in NYC, kill me now), pleeeeeeeeeeease don't burn your lovely, probably-very-expensive dress. Donate the dress to someone else! Reusing a wedding dress is a big ole slap in the face of the wedding industrial complex that pressures women into spending $10,000 on a dress they wear once. That's nuts! Put the dress up on Once Wed, and explain to your husband and mom that you want someone else (perhaps someone whose parents can't help with their wedding?*) to spend that money on an open bar or a nicer reception venue rather than a dress they'll never wear again.

yes, I'm projecting
posted by zoomorphic at 10:58 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is the thought process I go through if I'm trying to decide if I should get rid of something sentimental:

1) Is it useful? If so, have I used it in the last year?
2) Does keeping it get in my way (either physically or mentally)?
3) If I had an hour to pack my car and run from a fire--would I take it?

If you do decide to get rid of it, you could first offer it to your mother, since she bought it and seems to have an interest in you keeping it. She may less interested if it is sitting in her closet instead of yours.
posted by everybody polka at 11:56 AM on September 22, 2010

It's a beautiful dress, I'd lean towards donating it so it might continue bringing happiness to someone else (and potentially leading to a wonderful story where she donates it as well, and it continues to jump from bride to bride, for years. Obviously, going out and fighting crime in its down time.)

Alternatively, if you decided to keep it for the materials, it might be neat to have at least part of it made into a tie or cummerbund or veil or something, so when your kid is getting ready to get married, he might be able to use part of your dress as "something borrowed". which could lead to a fun tradition.
posted by quin at 2:04 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it might fit a 5'4" 140ishlb lady I can buy it from you for my imminent wedding.. maybe it can be the wedding dress that goes through Metafilter..

Anyway, lots of great suggestions, there are plenty of uses for a wedding dress other than keeping it in a box! The question of whether you'll regret it really just depends on how sentimental you are. :)
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 3:45 PM on September 22, 2010

Response by poster: I listed it on Once Wed. I'd love to donate it, but we're incredibly strapped for cash right now. If you are a transvestite I will take 10% off the asking price. :)
posted by desjardins at 6:51 AM on September 24, 2010

You should also try RecycledBride.com. It's free and has a cool, eco vibe.
posted by wetpaint at 11:20 PM on September 28, 2010

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