What to Do with Your Wedding Dress After the Big Day
Whether you were lucky enough to find it hanging in the first bridal shop you walked into or you had to scour each and every boutique within five counties for it, your wedding dress performed beautifully on your wedding day. From squeezing just where you needed it to and plumping other areas perfectly, there’s no question—your wedding dress played an integral part on your special day.
Now that it’s all over, pay your dress the respect it deserves by commemorating it in a way that’s unique to you. From re-working it to destroying it completely, the fate of your dress rests in your hands and should be as personalized as every other aspect of your celebration.
Re-work It to Re-wear It
Unlike almost every other item in a bride’s closet, the wedding dress isn’t often chosen for its fashion longevity or wardrobe flexibility. Depending on the style, the wedding gown is often purchased for one-time use. Granted, its one time is often wonderful (not to mention worth it), but most wedding dresses aren’t designed for everyday wear. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be. Find a local seamstress and start discussing your options. A little snip here, a little added lace there, or even an all-over dye, and before you know it you’ve got a dress you can wear to anything from an afternoon tea to a black tie gala.
Another option is to deconstruct it. Separating the bustier from the skirt and transforming them into two independent pieces is a wonderful way to re-work your dress into usable and versatile separates that are sure to get everyone’s attention.
If you want to avoid the hassle of essentially re-designing your gown, you don’t have the heart to see it torn apart, or you have a slightly different vision for re-wearing your dress, consider incorporating your gown into your Halloween costume. From zombie bride to Princess Di, have your gown make a reappearance on Allhallows Eve (AP style writes it this way, although it looks bizarre so feel free to change it) for a re-usage that can double as a fun stroll down memory lane. However, make sure to read makeup and prop labels carefully. Fake blood isn’t as easy to get out as you might imagine and Halloween can be a very messy holiday.
Pay It Forward
Get your new marriage off on the right karmic foot by donating your dress to a good cause. There are many local and nationwide organizations that are happy to pass your dress onto less fortunate brides who would love the opportunity to re-wear your gorgeous gown, or even to groups that will re-sell your dress and donate the profits to a variety of charities. Benefiting military brides, cancer patients, third world countries and many other causes, donating your wedding dress can help bring joy far beyond the day of your celebration.
Pass It Down
Enlist the help of crafty family members and friends, or even a local seamstress, to transform your dress into clothing items for the little ones in your life. Cultural or religious rites are the perfect fit for a wedding gown re-use; think baptismal gowns or quinceañeras for items that can be passed down through the generations with pride and nostalgia.
You can also add pieces of your gown to baby blankets or quilts. Not only will you keep you and your loved ones warm on chilly nights, but you’ll be reminded of your glorious day every time the temperature drops.
The “Trash the Dress” trend of recent years has become a great final chapter to a couple’s wedding photography. After all the care and meticulousness that surrounded your dress in the weeks and days leading up to your ceremony, the option to trash your dress turns all that caution on its head. It involves recruiting your photographer for one last session to witness the complete destruction of the gown that walked with you down the aisle.
Whether or not you decide to include your spouse is up to you, but these artistic sessions should be based entirely around you and your photographer’s vision. Consider “taking the plunge” by holding your session in water for visually stunning images you’ll be proud to display. In a nearby lake or even the local public swimming pool, underwater shots offer an ethereal and whimsical touch, while the inclusion of water itself lends to a romantic feel that’s hard to replicate.
You can also use this opportunity to get a little dirty. Roll around in the mud, get creative (or at the very least, careless)with paint, or take a seat on—gasp!—a city sidewalk or in a grassy meadow, but have fun with it! Your trash-the-dress shoot should be as fun as your engagement shoot, or even more so, so feel free to get as wild as your imagination will allow.
Preservation Is Key
Whether you want to keep it for yourself as a gorgeous remembrance of your big day or you plan to pass it down to the next prospective bride in your circle, many brides opt to store their dress for future occasions. Learn how to preserve precious wedding mementos yourself with the right materials, or look into companies that specialize in wedding gown preservation for storage options that are sure to keep your gown safe and secure until you’re ready to unveil it once again. Many of the companies specializing in this service make it surprisingly easy to start the process by simply shipping your gown to them or dropping it off at a participating retailer while they handle the rest.
If you have the space and an agreeable spouse, consider putting all (or even just portions) of your gown on display. While some preservation companies will provide a windowed box for your dress, usually displaying the bust of your gown, these aren’t always ideal for display. Conversely, some display options won’t ensure your dress’s preservation over time. One option is to remove the bodice from the skirt and display it, along with some well-chosen memorabilia, in a shadow box you can hang on your wall or prop up on a shelf or mantle. Can’t imagine cutting up your beautiful gown? Hang it on a mannequin or dress form for a display option fit for a museum. (This can be an especially eye-catching option if you chose to trash your dress with paint or other staining agents.)
Whatever you decide to do with your wedding dress, remember that it served you well and will live on in your wedding photos long after you’ve dirtied it, donated it, or deconstructed it, so feel free to choose a post-wedding option that fits your personality perfectly.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.