My wedding helped me decide what to do with my dress

Guest post by Sabrina

943218_10151471284063003_102511899_nBefore the wedding I spent a fair amount of time wondering what to do with my gown after the wedding. Trash the dress shoot? Shorten for later use? Save for a possible future daughter? How could I ever decide?

My biggest pull before the wedding was to save it forever in case I had a daughter that might want to wear it. My step-daughter is already my height at 11 years old, so I can't imagine she would fit in it when the time comes. My mother saved her dress but it didn't fit me. I was too small in the bust and too big in the hips and it just really wasn't particularly flattering on me. It also wasn't what I imagined The Dress to be. And we might not ever have another daughter!

I think by NOT holding onto my dress for another daughter it frees up my future potential daughter to make her own vision and not worry about hurting my feelings by not wearing the dress that I saved forever for her.

Trashing the dress in a shoot sounded fun and all, but dry cleaning is expensive y'all.

But on my wedding day, it all became clear.

I decided I was going to keep it and I was going to shorten it. My seamstress pointed out at one of our appointments that the dress would make a fabulous short, tight, sexy dress — cutting it off above the knee. This idea sounded enticing to me from the beginning but CUT MY DRESS? AHH!

Then my wedding came. And I spent my day in the most insanely beautiful garment I have ever worn in my entire life. I felt like a queen and a goddess and a fairy tale and a rock star. I felt like a million bucks. I didn't want to take the dress off. I wanted to camp out and live in that dress forever.

It was then that I thought, “There is no way I could never wear this dress again.” I had such a deep response to the way that dress made me feel — I should absolutely wear it again.

I am going to wear the shit out of that dress. And I'm going to feel like a million bucks every time — until I outgrow it. When that time comes, I'll probably dry clean it and put it aside.

Maybe some day a girl in my family WILL want to wear it. Maybe it will be a girl that's totally into short dresses.

Shorten it? Donate it? Ritualistic burning ceremony? What are you planning to do with YOUR dress after the wedding?

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Comments on My wedding helped me decide what to do with my dress

  1. I’m in the same boat you were in… what to do, what to do?? I hope my choice becomes clear as yours did 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. So far all I know is that after our morning ceremony I will be wondering around DC in it the rest of the afternoon/evening. Most likely a patch sized portion is going to be cut from somewhere and put onto Clay’s studded punk jacket.

    Other than that…I’m still up in the air. Part of me thinks “trash the dress, fuck yes.” but then wouldn’t know what to do for said session. Another part thinks “oh I’ll make a quilt out of it.” but knows that I don’t own a sewing machine and probably won’t for years to come. We aren’t having kids so obviously that isn’t an option….I hope other ladies have some fab ideas because I apparently don’t! xD

  3. Part of the reason I’m getting my dress made custom, and part of why it is the design that it is, is so I can (hopefully) wear it to Pennsic in the future, or at the very least, the local renn faire. A talented seamstress and good friend of mine is trying to work out a reproduction of a 14th century gothic fitted dress because I am beyond absolutely in love with it. I couldn’t imagine trying to reconcile a wedding dress with my regular wardrobe; I don’t dress up often enough, or to a great enough degree, for even the shortening of a gorgeous gown to work out well for me, and I didn’t want to dress *down* my wedding gown so that I could wear it day-to-day, so I thought about what would get the most love as a special event garment. FH loves LARPing, but that calls for more mobility, and, again, kinda limits my options. I’ve been nannying at Pennsic for my cousin’s daughter for two years running now, and FH and I hit up the local renn faire as often as funds allow, so something renaissance-y was perfect, plus, as far back as I’ve imagined a wedding, I’ve imagined the shindig we’re planning now– a historical/fantasy affair. There was just no part of it that WASN’T perfect, and it all works.

    • yay Pennsic folks!

      and I think a cotehardie could make a fantabulous wedding dress!

    • Totally want to see your dress now. That sounds fabulous. As a frugal person, reuse through ren faire sounds like a super win and makes me feel a little better about spending money on an otherwise one time-event dress (also not having kids).

  4. and you know what else, i saw someone make part of their dress into a skirt for a bassinet. it was really cute. so you can save the stuff you cut off for that. or baptismal gowns, if you’re into that.

    great idea. 🙂

    • That’s a great idea. I think I’ll shorten mine and make the extra fabric into a skirt for a bassinet. You just saved my sanity!

    • This is an awesome idea! I am toying with shortening mine but wanted to make some sort of keepsake out of it but couldn’t come up with a good one, a baptismal gown would be PERFECT!

    • Late to this, but it has always been our (big, loud, Irish-Catholic) family tradition that part of the dress goes into the making of a bassinet skirt, christening gown, or First Communion dress for your own child or god-child.

  5. For those of you wondering what to do with the dress after your wedding, please also consider giving your wedding dress to charity.

    On top of helping a charity, you are also helping a fellow bride feel beautiful on her big day, and that’s something.

    I suggest Brides Against Breast Cancer, but there are many more that do wedding gown sales as a way to raise funds.

    • Yes, this! I bought my dress from a thrift store that donates to hunger relief.

    • Brides Across America gives wedding dresses to military brides whose intendeds are currently deployed or going to be deployed!

  6. If you’re going with a non-white dress (mine was rose pink) you can donate to other charities as well. I gave mine to a group that donates dresses to low income girls for prom. They don’t have the money to afford a dress and otherwise might not get to go.

  7. Because my dress was hand made by me, turquoise dupioni silk and handmade flowers, I see it as a piece of art. And along my husbands stunning hand made vest, the dress is displayed on the front of our guest room. I love seeing it!

  8. I plan to shorten my dress and wear it again, hopefully all the time. That was one criteria I used for dress shopping. My dress has some black detail on an ivory dress, and I plan to dye the skirt black, while leaving the top white. The neckline is a halter with a black band, and a black bow tie. I’m going to cut it off to about knee length. It’s going to look amazing.

  9. I know a woman who re-wears her wedding dress every year on her anniversary. Its cut like an evening dress anyway, so she and her husband have a tradition where they go out to dinner and she wears it! I love it!

    • We do this too! My dress was tea-length, and my husband wore khaki pants and a navy blazer, so it works out quite nicely.

    • That “bing!” sound you heard was the light bulb going on over my head 🙂 My dress would be PERFECT for that – thanks so much for this idea!

  10. My grandmother turned her dress into two christening gowns for her first two children. It kind of makes me sad that the dress isn’t still intact and preserved, but we have pictures and it was much more useful reborn into something new than stuck in a dusty box.

    My mother’s first wedding dress was a family gown, passed around between three or four brides. After the last one, it got preserved incorrectly and bleached, ruining it. My mom saved the scraps from a dusty box in my great-grandmother’s closet and has been rescuing the beaded lace. She has hand sewn some onto organza drawstring bags and filling them with lavender as gifts to the original wearers of the dress. And the daughter of the original owner recently got married and used some of the lace to wrap her bouquet.

  11. It’s one of many reasons I’m making an outfit that I can wear in my Medieval recreation group lots of time later, and Steampunk for the reception that I can wear to Cons for years to come. Practical Sherry, is Practical.

  12. My dress is already short, so after the wedding I have decided I am going to dye it. It’s a 50’s style tea length gown with a fluffy skirt, so I am thinking a black or red and going to wear it on our anniversary 🙂 I also like swashi’s idea of just dying the bottom black!

    • I’m back to my wedding weight after some health issues and I’m SO excited to get to wear mine on my anniversary this year! It’s also a twirly late 50s/early 60s tea-length gown with a twirly skirt. My dream is to dye it Williamsburg Blue and wear it to an inaugural ball (we live in DC), but they’re SO expensive. I’ll just have to wait for some black tie event to come up (they do, every few years).

      Oooh, dip dying my dress would be lovely too, but I’m afraid it would look trendy in a few years, though I suppose I could just dye over it again….. Wheels are turning in my head 🙂

  13. I love this idea! Why should a wedding dress be so special for one day and then locked up in a closet for the rest of your life? Great idea!

  14. The wedding dress I bought was donated to a thrift store that uses proceeds to feed the homeless, so I might donate it to something like that since it doesn’t lend itself well to shortening. I might hold onto it and use it as a costume since I dabble in theatre 🙂

    The other dress I have that my partner might wear started as my prom dress and can be easily modified to be a Ren Faire dress, so that one will definitely be staying.

    We are wearing dresses for the reception and furisode (my fiancee is Japanese) for the ceremony, and you can bet those furisode aren’t going anywhere.

  15. Wow! The wedding gown as something never to be worn again & created for a specific occasion that occurs only once in a lifetime gained popularity only in the 20th century. I’m guessing up until then the very rich brides simply got gorgeous gowns made on for their wedding which they could wear only once or twice anyways as the fashions changed every season. The middle classes & poorer brides simply wore their best dresses & suits and didn’t have the luxury of ”storing” their precious gowns. What a long way we’ve come!

    • One of the things done with “the dress” long ago, was to make baby things. Often the wedding dress was re-purposed as the layette , bassinet cover(all that fabric and lace in the skirt lends itself to that, christening/babtismal outfit(s) and things like that. All that lace was hand made once upon a time and all that fabric was hellishly expensive and not going to be just store once upon a time. And since the expectation was that one would start cranking out children. . . that is the next sensible step.

      • Queen Victoria’s wedding lace took 200 lacemakers 9 months to produce. She loved it so much that after her wedding, she had the lace repurposed to cover several other gowns, including the one she wore to her husband’s funeral, and later she wore the lace and the veil to her Diamond Jubilee. Seriously, she had that same piece of lace mounted on just about every gown she wore to a major occasion.

        She’s also credited with starting off the white-gown fad… one that’s stuck around quite a bit longer than most other fads.

        /i practice ye olde lacemaking and love the history of it

        • I would love to learn to crochet lace but I only know the basic stitches at this point and have always used yarn. Any tips and resources you can suggest so I can work on learning this crafty skill? Thank you!

      • The first issue of Harper’s Bazar features a dress on the cover that could have been worn by Princess Grace. Flowing gored cut, taffeta over satin, little crystal buttons, the works. The same or second issue (can’t recall which) features a walking dress that is unmistakably the same dress shortened to outdoor length, with the crystal and lace replaced by cheery red buttons and red ribbon trim, and a fetching winter coat made to match. And this was a magazine for the well to do.

    • I think beforethe 20th century, for the middle class, their wedding dress was their most formal elegant dress which would be worn for special events. It was also normal to alter dresses as the fashion changed. At one point it was also a tradition to dye the dress black and wear it for funerals.

  16. Is it the dress in the picture? It would look gorgeous in a shorter version (not that it’s not as it is). I think it was my first thought after reading the title and seeing the picture.
    My dress is not a bridal gown per se, but an evening dress, navy blue and I hope that I will have occasions to wear it again.

  17. I thought I would just donate my dress to Goodwill or something…. I’m not a sentimental person, I wasn’t big into wedding planning, and frankly shopping for a wedding dress was so stress-inducing that I had to get a little drunk beforehand. But then… I ended up loving the dress, and feeling happy every time I saw it post-wedding, and not ever quite working up the nerve to get rid of it. I was too practical to want to spend the money to clean and restore it – what the heck am I going to *do* with it??? So my mother stepped in and got it cleaned and beautifully preserved. Turns out, it’s exactly what I wanted but didn’t feel I could ask for. Yup, it’s a bit wasteful to have yards of fabric sitting in a box. But…. I have a need to be sentimental for this one thing. Maybe my child will want to rework it into her own dress someday, or maybe she’ll just want to laugh hysterically at how dated it is. Maybe it will get no more use than me looking at it every once in awhile and smiling at the memories. That’s okay.

    • That’s exactly how I felt about my dress, only add in the super-sentimental “my mom made this for me” factor, too! And then…20 years later, I decided the box was taking up too much space, I was in decluttering mode, and my daughter didn’t want it, so…to Goodwill it went.* And that’s okay, too 🙂

      *(I asked my mom first, and she was fine with it, don’t worry.)

  18. For this precise reason that I despise the huge amount of waste in the fashion industry, and even more in WIC, I am having a tea-length red dress with a separate turquoise waspie corset, so both elements can (and will) be worn again, either together as originally intended or separately with other items to create new outfits…. or even the waspie on its own in private with my new hubby! 😉
    I see it not as “my wedding dress” but as MY BESTEST EVER DRESS – very much like Jellifer was saying, that pre 20th century it was the bride’s best dress she owned, not a 1-off white wonder. So I’ve had it custom-designed, perfectly to fit me and its still less expensive than many WIC boutiques!
    I will look forward to wearing it for years to come, to balls, parties and other peoples’ weddings!

  19. I have wondered about getting my dress cut into corset and skirt, but I don’t know if the construction is right and what I would ever use the skirt for. But the idea is there if I ever meet a person with the talents 🙂

  20. I’m thinking of getting mine framed. I have an uncle and aunt who run they’re own framing business and they can frame ANYTHING and make it look beautiful.

  21. Although we are not yet married, the boy has ALWAYS (before the start of our relationship) believed that a wedding dress was something you hung on to for sentimental reasons. I, on the other hand, have pretty much always assumed that I would be donating it to charity – either for other brides or as a prom dress. Since it’s all in theory still, I haven’t actually made a decision, but the situation has me leaning towards getting the kind of dress that I could re-use and wear again to bridge the gap.

  22. I’ve been wearing mine every year to FaerieCon mostly to the masquerade balls, because I can. It’s not completely white so it doesn’t automatically scream WEDDING DRESS. I like getting to dress up and dance in it with my husband at least once a year. It’s got holes in the hem from where I’ve drunkenly stepped on it, but I have no regrets. I’m going to wear it until it falls apart and/or I don’t fit in it anymore. I am mean to my clothes but I know that about myself and planned accordingly, I got it custom made in a style (fairy princess) I knew I would wear again. YAY PRETTY DRESSES

  23. I’m returning mine to the rental company. =) That’s right, I’m RENTING a wedding dress. It is a shame that bridal dress rentals haven’t caught on in most places. I get to wear a gorgeous dress at a fraction of the price, I don’t have to worry about cleaning it (that is included), and they will still alter it. I’d like to think it is a slightly greener alternative. Plus, I love the thought of the line of women who have worn and loved this dress on their happy days.

  24. We’re going to have mine made into a christening gown for future kidlets. 🙂

  25. I am planning on having my dress turned into small quilting patches to turn into a baby blanket for the day that a little one comes around.

  26. I thought about this when I started designing my wedding outfit. I knew right from the start that I wanted to be able to wear my outfit time and time and time again.

    I designed a silk lehenga in bold colours with silver and bronze embroidery and embellishments – teal, purple and dark red. A lehenga is an Indian outfit consisting of a long, full skirt, a blouse, and a shawl/scarf. I now have three gorgeous pieces that I can wear together for another formal event, or wear separately with other items for more casual events.

    I plan to wear the heck out of my wedding outfit in it’s various combinations!!

  27. Today I discovered yet another a dress that I love part of, and I am gradually coming to terms with the fact that I should just get a dress custom made.

    This post and comments makes me feel much better about that decision. Having a blue dress that I could re-wear and a specific bouqet were the only things I cared about with this wedding [besides the groom of course 😉 ] so it’s okay if I spend extra money to make them perfect.

    Besides I’m going to wear it until I destroy it. I’m like that with dresses and skirts. I pick or make ones I love and wear them constantly until they die. Come to think of it… I don’t think Ive worn pants or shorts in two weeks. It’s totally worth it.

  28. My sister in law had a great idea! She shortened her wedding gown and used the fabric to make a baptism dress for her 1st child, both her and baby wore the wedding gown and dad wore his wedding suit.

  29. See, I couldn’t really have gotten a dress that I could wear time and time again – because I don’t wear dresses! Whether my dress was pure white, deep red, or any other color, I’m just not someone who has occasion to wear fancy clothes. I’m in scrubs most days, but I didn’t really want to get married in scrubs! I could have gone with a very simple dress that I could wear out a few times a year, but I did want to wear something that felt special, and the types of dresses I have occasion to wear aren’t reallly that special-feeling.

    • You could try converting part of it into something else if you wanted to hold on to it for sentimental reasons.

      Most of these ideas are baby related, but if I were doing something like that I would probably turn part of it into something homey. A throw pillow either just with part of the details or with a lacey bit over the wedding color or a detail in a picture frame in a grouping with some wedding photos. That way I could see it all the time, without having to fram the whole thing.

  30. I am designing my dress and my mom and future mother in law are sewing it. It is a renfair style dress, but with my own twist. I make chain maile. So I am making a maile bodice and train for the dress. So the dress will be used later for rent fairs, as art work, and as a show piece. I’m just nervous that it turns out well.

  31. After my wedding, my sister borrowed my dress to wear in a pageant as her formal wear. My best friend borrowed it to use in a photo shoot, I wore it again to both a masquerade ball and murder mystery. I was approached by someone that wanted to rent my dress for both a play and a film but I’m still up in the air on this one.

  32. I’m thinking I’d have mine dyed or paint it up with fabric dyes myself and wear it as part of a costume on Halloween and to Comic Cons.

  33. Do you have a photo of your dress–before and after? I would love to see it.

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