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What do you do with an old wedding dress?

What do you do with an old wedding dress?

I found my wedding dress. It was wadded up and shoved into a small space on top of my summer shorts in my closet.

My wedding dress is old. I wore it once, on September 22,1990. I put it on in the morning and took it off in the hotel room that night. And I never put it on again.

A silk dress. Cream colored. I first saw it in a bridal magazine. I showed the dress to the sales clerk. She had it stock, and I bought it.

Today is December 17th, 2013. The dress has been stored in a plastic bag for the last twenty-three years, two months and twenty-five days.

What do you do with an old wedding dress?

I asked my dry cleaner.

He said he could it clean it and store it in a box with acid free tissue paper. The storage system will keep the dress from yellowing and it will keep out moths and bugs, for one hundred and seventy-nine dollars.

If I don’t keep the dress am I not valuing my marriage? Do you have to keep your wedding dress? Is there a book of rules somewhere that says, “Thou shalt always keep your wedding dress.”

I promised to love and cherish my husband, but I didn’t promise to love and cherish my wedding dress.

My wedding dress is not my husband. It is just several yards of silk, sewn together with thread and a zipper.

Is my wedding dress something my daughters will fight over? Do they even want to get married in my dress? It might not fit them. They can have whatever dress they want.

Who gets to store my wedding dress when I die? And every daughter will have a collection of wedding dresses to carry around with them for the next 400 years.

Packing wedding dresses. I have my mothers wedding dress from 1949. I am a packer of wedding dresses.

We still have napkins from our wedding. We have enough to use on our Anniversary for the next hundred years.

I found several articles on the internet with suggestions on what to do with an old wedding dress.

I don’t have a Christmas tree skirt, I could cut off the bottom of the wedding dress and use it this year under our tree.

Perhaps I could cut off the bottom and turn it into a Christmas Party dress? Or maybe a purse? or a pillow? My children are too old to need a Christening Gown. The Bridal Project gives the profits raised from the sale of donated gowns to families touched by cancer through the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. But they only want dresses from 2005.

I could sell my wedding gown at Once Wed.com. Or maybe you know someone who is a size 4 who is getting married? It doesn’t fit me anymore.

But it doesn’t have to fit me now. I don’t need my wedding dress. I am married.

September 22nd, 1990

September 22nd, 1990

What do you think I should do with my wedding dress? What did you do with yours? Please tell me in the comments. I really want to know.

Please add a photograph of you in your wedding dress. Or link to a blog post if you want to write about your dress.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Lori

    I found this blog when I was searching for ideas for things to do with my wedding dress. I had to laugh when I saw your wedding date. It’s the same as mine! My dress is also still in the original bag uncleaned. I was prompted to explore because my daughter is getting married in August. She is a size 10. I’m a 6. Not only would she not fit in my dress, she would not want to get married in it because it was not a “classic” style. It’s a gorgeous 1990’s mermaid style with ruffles and BIG shoulders. I kept it because, well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? You see, I’m a perfectionist and I would never forgive myself if I let it go not knowing what the future would hold. I didn’t know I would have a daughter. I didn’t know if she would want to wear it. But what if? So I kept it. Flash-forward to May 2014: we have two wonderful children, a son and a daughter. I would like to do something with my dress to incorporate the “something old”. She agreed that she would like that as well. I still have my veil, so we could use the netting in her bouquet. I also like the idea of using the dress for the ring-bearer’s pillow or the flower girl’s basket. This way she can wear her dream dress. Just like I did.

    • Hello Lori,
      How funny that we were married on the same day. Your dress sounds beautiful. And it appears that in all the ruffles and big shoulders you will have enough fabric to make a ring-bearers pillow and a flower girl’s basket.
      And maybe one day, a small gown for a grandchild’d christening.
      Congratulations on the raising two children, and on your daughters wedding.
      What will the mother of the bride wear?
      My daughter is 19 and when she marries she wants her own dress as well. So maybe my dress will become a ring-bearers pillow too one day.

  • jane williams

    There are just some things that we have to let our kids sort through, touch, connect… become a part of, after we’re dead and gone. Don’t deprive them of that ‘rite of passage’…..

    • Jane,
      I read your comment this morning and started to cry. Thank you for this perspective. I will keep my dress.

  • Pingback: What do you do with an old wedding dress? - i paint i write | meddinga-z.commeddinga-z.com()

  • I borrowed my wedding dress from my aunt Jennie. She worked in a dry cleaners. People took their wedding dresses there all the time and didn’t pick them up. I got to choose among four of them. Then after the wedding, I gave it back. I could have kept it. She offered. It’s easier to give it back the day of your wedding.

    We’ve been married for 30 years. The wedding dress doesn’t hold your marriage together.

    Since my daughter is at least six inches taller than I am, she couldn’t have worn it anyway.

    Now, only if I wasn’t emotionally attached to some of the other things I need to get rid of – ha!

    One idea for your wedding dress is to donate to a resale shop. Perhaps someone wouldn’t have money to pay for a wedding dress. Yours is a simple design, and it doesn’t look that old.

    Another thing is some people look for older clothes for plays. I typed up a transcript of a lady who did the clothing for plays and she talked about how hard it was to get clothing set in certain time periods.

    • Eva,
      What a fun story about how you got your wedding dress. Please share if you write a story on your blog. And do you have a picture of you in the dress?
      Your daughter is tall! You grow big babies.
      And 30 years! Congratulations.
      I thought I might donate it to a resale shop, but my daughters asked if I would keep it for them.

  • La McCoy

    My dress is wadded in my hope chest. I made it with cheap muslin &pricy lace. I doubt anyone would ever want to wear it.

    • Laura,
      A nice combination of fabric. I’ll bet you were a beautiful bride. Do you have a photograph you can share?

      • La McCoy

        Ill have to look.
        I did see the dress today when i took out a winter blanket. I thought about posting a picture of it.

  • I think I still have my dress stored in my parents’ shed. I need to check on it. If any of my daughters are at all close to my size they might want to wear it. I tried my mother’s dress when I was looking for one but she was much smaller than I was.

    • Anasticia, You are a beautiful bride. Your train is so pretty. Yes, your daughters may want to wear it. I hope is is safely kept in the shed. Hopefully the mice didn’t get married in white too.

  • Pamela Black

    Your dress is so beautiful. It’s so simple, classic and tasteful! I was able to avoid admitting yesterday that I am a hoarder of magazines. Yes. It’s sad. I love them. But now I have to admit that I have both my dress and my grandmothers. Her dress was made by my great grandmother. I doubt my girls will want to wear either one but still I keep them.
    How DO we get out of this mess of keeping things forever? I did finally give away my wedding shoes( who even knows why I was keeping them) and that was a baby step.
    I wonder, why do we feel such attachment to our stuff?

    • Good Morning Pamela,
      My daughter who is 11 just asked me to keep my dress.
      Oh, Pamela! How many magazines do you have? You never know when you will need to cut our letters and write a mystery note.
      Keeping wedding dresses seems to be sweet, but 10,000 magazines seems to be hoarding.
      And I am not sure how to get rid of this mess of keeping things forever. What did your wedding shoes look like? Ha, I wish I had kept mine! They had a white bow on the toes.
      My stuff has become memories. A friend said to take photographs and give the items away.

  • Leigh Anne Eck

    I eloped so I didn’t have a traditional wedding dress. I still have mine and will probably keep it. Looking forward to hearing responses.

    • Leigh Anne!
      Eloping sounds so romantic and adventurous! What did you wear? Where did you go?
      I am curious to know what other people did with their dresses too.

  • Pamela, you’re so funny! “I promised to love and cherish my husband, but I didn’t promise to love and cherish my wedding dress.” My dress, and my daughter’s are folded nicely & lying in a cedar chest that I use for my tv. My daughter tried my dress, but I had elected to wear a short one & she wanted a long one. I haven’t done it yet, have had too many other things to sell or give away, but I suspect I’ll find a group where I can donate the dresses to those who cannot afford them. And that might be your option too. It’s a lovely dress!

    • Linda,
      I hadn’t thought of storing the dress in a cedar chest. Last week my daughter and I rescued a Lane Cedar Chest from our neighbors trash. Their dog had chewed up the back of it. The inside is pristine. What are a few chew marks!
      Donating might be an option. I forgot to ask my daughters what they want to do with the dress.

      • La McCoy

        Yes mine is in the cedar chest.

  • Sweet blog. And you looked lovely. I still have my dress. It was kind of a peasant style. I thought it was like a princess with the sleeves and laced up part. The topper on the cake was also on my parent’s cake. As a tradition I have made sure all my siblings have also used it on their wedding cakes. It is porcelain. What a fun tradition that’s been.

    • Anne,
      You were a beautiful bride! I love your dress; you really do look like a princess in your dress.

      • La McCoy

        Beautiful Anne.

  • Michelle Salerno

    My vote…keep it. Maybe your daughter will want to have it altered for her wedding. You can have christening / baptism gowns made for your grandchildren! Even pieces of it could make their way to her wedding in bows, etc.

    • Hello Michelle,
      I would like to keep it. Thank you for your vote.

  • Elsie

    My dress is hanging in a box in the attic. I don’t know why I keep it. My mother made it. You have a dilemma. It will be interesting to learn what you decide. Good luck.

    • Elise, do you have a photograph of you in your wedding dress? I would love to see what your mother made.
      I don’t know what I will do with my dress. I know I don’t want to pay $179 to preserve it.

      • Barbara Budan

        Keep the memories, sell the dress, or donate. Better to give the dress new life, new memories and shared love than to be stuffed in a closet. Unlikely your daughter will want to wear your dress, no matter how beautiful, she’ll want her own. Save the $179. Pass the dress, love and good memories forward.The nearly new bridal shop will clean and press.
        Let it go. You’ll feel lighter.

        • Good Morning Barbara,
          Before I wrote the story I wanted to get rid of the dress. But now my daughters have asked me to keep it. I am still not sure what to do. I know I won’t spend $179 to keep it away from bugs.

          • Barbara Budan

            My daughter asked me to keep hers too. I did (for 20 years) until moving into smaller home that required letting go of many things..I kept the memories.
            Now the box with her dress sits on a shelf in my daughter’s house..
            You will find the perfect solution and place for your dress..