wedding dress after the wedding

What do you do with your wedding dress after the wedding?

After months of searching and saving, you’ve found your perfect gown! And while the dress is certainly near and dear to your heart right now, one question lingers: what will become of it after the wedding? Many brides are taking a new look at the life of their wedding dress, post-ceremony. We’ve rounded up eight ideas for what to do with the dress once your big day has passed.

Now that you’ve officially said “I do,” you may have some loose ends to tie up: unwrapping presents, writing thank you notes and finalizing honeymoon plans. You may also be wondering what to do with your wedding dress now that the nuptials are over. The good news is that there are several options for your wedding day outfit. You can either have it professionally preserved (maybe to pass onto someone else down the line), donate it to someone in need, or repurpose it into décor for your newlywed nest. Newly married couples focused on sustainability will be delighted to find that all of these ideas will give your wedding garment a brand new life, cutting down on overall waste often associated with the wedding dress industry. If you’re wondering what to do with your wedding dress and looking to cut down your ceremony’s carbon footprint, here are creative ways to repurpose your gown.

It’s hard to spend hours, days, and even months selecting the perfect wedding dress only to be faced with what to do with it the morning after the wedding. That’s a lot of emotion for one outfit! So what should you do with your wedding dress after the cake has been eaten, the gifts have been unwrapped, and the guests have gone home? Here are a few suggestions:

Save it as an heirloom

Hoping to have a little girl one day? Hang onto your dress for her! Have it preserved so that it stays in mint condition. Tastes and styles change, but even if she doesn’t want to wear the dress in its entirety, there are a lot of cool ways she can incorporate it into her day (think Pretty in Pink!). She could use it as a garter, a bouquet wrap or a piece of her veil. Even if she wants something totally new, it will be fun to watch her try it on.

Have a fun photoshoot

If you’re not the sentimental type but love a good Instagram shot, “trash the dress” shoots are gorgeous. On your first anniversary, rehire your photographer and snag some fun shots of you and your groom trashing your gown! The photoshoots are memorable, fun and definitely unique. We love ones with huge splashes of paint or dives in the ocean. Incorporate that top layer of wedding cake you’ve been saving and go to town!

Some brides get artistic with a post-wedding photoshoot called “trash the dress”—and no, that doesn’t mean the dress has to be completely ruined. It just means getting your picture was taken in a less formal setting than you might have been able to on your wedding day: You might hit the beach, a pool, a creek, a nearby park or even somewhere funky like a carnival, arcade or bowling alley. Think about what places are meaningful to you, are fun and will make you feel like a fashion model for a day. Sure, you can totally trash your dress while you’re there, but that part isn’t required.

Donate Your Wedding Dress to Charity

Many organizations all over the country accept wedding dress and apparel donations. For example, Brides Across America gives wedding dresses to military brides in need. Every Girl’s Dream in Michigan accepts both wedding gowns and evening wear for brides-to-be facing financial hardship. At the same time, Operation Prom and Cinderella’s Closet will take wedding and bridesmaid dresses (and groomsmen tuxedos) to help dress low-income students for their prom. Brides for a Cause will accept your donation, resell your dress and use the proceeds to raise money for different causes. Another idea is Angel Gowns or Baby Gowns for Eternity, which turn wedding dresses into gowns for stillborn infants. If you don’t have a specific charity in mind, think local and inquire at your nearest thrift store (or farther away if you’d rather not run into someone in town wearing your wedding dress)—the shop may be in need of a white gown restock, in which case, you’ll make a lucky, local bride-to-be very happy in the near future.

There are plenty of organizations that look for wedding dresses, like Wish Upon a Wedding, which gives dresses to and performs weddings for terminally ill brides. Another option is The Angel Gown Program, which turns wedding gowns into beautiful burial gowns for babies who pass away in NICUs. Brides Against Breast Cancer is a third great cause; they donate all proceeds of wedding gown sales to help fight cancer.

Sell it

Wedding dresses aren’t cheap, and there are a lot of brides in the market for a secondhand gown. According to The Knot, “A used wedding dress in great condition and under two years old can usually sell for 50 per cent of the retail price. And, if your dress is a more recognizable brand like Oscar de la Renta or Vera Wang, you could make closer to 60 per cent of its retail value.” Instead of taking your dress to a thrift store or secondhand shop, list it online, where thousands of potential brides have access to it. Get it professionally cleaned first, with any holes or tears fixed by a tailor. Find out where to buy used wedding dresses here!

This trend seems to be taking over the wedding dress industry. Modern-day brides do not seem to be as emotionally attached to their wedding gown and therefore look for ways to recoup some of the money spent on it. Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to sell your used wedding dress online. If you are interested in selling your preowned wedding dress, you should check out PreownedWeddingDresses.com and our selection of used dresses on Oncewed.com. Both have thousands and thousands of brides searching their sites each and every day for the perfect wedding dress. Your gown is too pretty to only have one trip down the aisle! Get started today!

Do a Trash the Dress Shoot

As unconventional as it may sound, ‘Trash the Dress’ photoshoots are super popular in America, and the trend is coming to the UK. You may think it’s absurd to waste all that money spent on your dress by ruining it, but don’t rule it out just yet. You and your partner could have copious amounts of fun dressing up in your wedding gear and have even more fun trashing it.

There are loads of crazy things you can do – paintballing, mud fights, and even making a splash in the ocean! Ruining your wedding dress isn’t an idea that would sit well with most people, but after all the pressure of planning a wedding, why not release some stress and go for it?

Having a professional photographer capture the whole thing on camera could make for some great memories for both you and your partner, and it’s a great idea if you’re stuck on what to do with your wedding dress.

The Hindu festival of colours, Holi, is an amazing opportunity to put on your wedding dress and get it colourfully messy. Those taking part throw vibrant paint powders, which will leave your dress with an amazing design. Lots of these festivals take part across the country, or you could even wear it on a Color Run – a fun 5k in London where you celebrate by throwing colours at the finish line!

Wear it For Fancy Dress

Looking for an idea of what to do with your wedding dress that doesn’t involve ruining it? Why not wait for a fancy dress party to come around and stun all your friends by turning up to the party as a blushing bride.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy reliving your exact bridal look for a party, wait for Halloween to come around and have some real fun with this look. It’s ideal if you had a gothic wedding dress – minimal effort required!

Pass it On to the Next Generation

Marriage – check. Kids – check? Whether you’re already parents or plan to be in the future, saving your wedding dress for your offspring can be a nice thing to do with your gown after the wedding. You could have a seamstress transform it into a new dress for your little one to wear, perhaps for a special event like a christening, or even pick up a sewing machine yourself and get arty.

You could even go one step further and have the dress made into doilies or other wedding mementoes for your child’s wedding. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate your gown into your daughter, godchild or niece’s wedding in the future so be creative! If you can’t bear to take it apart, save it for them to enjoy when they’re older.

Preserve Your Wedding Dress

Want to save your gown for sentimental reasons? Your first to-do is to get your wedding dress cleaned and preserved to remove party stains and smudges, like mud on the hem from your barn reception or berry compote from your wedding cake. Wedding Dress Preservation by The Knot has you covered on that front—just choose your package, ship your dress, and we’ll take care of the rest. Having your gown professionally preserved also means that you can pass it down to someone else—saving them the cost (both financial and ecological) of buying a brand new gown.

Get Crafty With Your Wedding Dress

If you’re savvy with a sewing machine and not afraid to see your dress in pieces, turn it into something you know you’ll use and love—or that someone else will. You’re most likely working with a fair amount of material, so you’ll be able to create a range of creative household items and accessories.

Home Décor Ideas 

  • Pillows (for your living room, your or a loved one’s new baby, a friend’s ring bearer pillow—the options are endless)
  • Tablecloths, table runners or napkins
  • Curtains

Clothing and Accessories

  • Scarf
  • Clutch
  • Necklace
  • Cocktail dress or a set of separates

Kid and Baby Accessories

  • Baby blanket
  • Bassinet cover
  • Child’s costume (think: princess dress, mini wedding dress)
  • Doll clothing and accessories

Religious Clothing and Holiday Décor

  • First Communion Dress
  • Christening gown
  • Christmas tree skirt
  • Christmas ornament
  • Stocking 

Looking for more ideas? Check out Pinterest for endless DIY ideas and visuals for what to do with your wedding dress.

Renew Your Vows

If you have sentimental attachments to your bridal gown and don’t want to reuse it for any other purpose than for you and your partner, save it with plans to renew your vows eventually. To slightly mix it up a bit, you could always have parts of the dress changed, such as more embellishments added or the train shortened.

This means you will still be wearing your special dress all over again with an up-to-date makeover. Remember, you don’t have to change it at all, it is perfectly acceptable to keep the dress exactly the same, but whatever way you decide to do it, be happy that this is a romantic and sentimental thing to do with your wedding dress after the big day.

Throw a Wedding Dress Party

You may recall a slightly cringe-worthy episode of Friends where we all watched Monica, Rachel and Phoebe lounge around in rented wedding dresses while drinking beer and eating pizza – and eventually getting caught by the boys! We think they may have been onto something.

If you are in a group where a lot of your friends and family are married, get all the women together and have a wedding dress party. You can all spend the evening drinking cocktails, reminiscing about your wedding days and if you and your beau are still in the honeymoon stage and can’t be apart, invite all the guys in their suits to join. What could be more fun than a load of married couples partying in their wedding get-up? (Probably a few things, we imagine)

Are you and your pals completely Friends-obsessed? Take a cue from the beloved sitcom and host your very own wedding dress party. Invite your friends over and ask them to wear their wedding gowns. It’s a fun and creative way to give your wedding dress new life after your wedding day. Staging a flower toss is optional, of course!

Dye Your Wedding Dress a New Color 

If you’re positive you’ll never wear your garment again, but don’t want to give it away or cut it up, consider dyeing it a new colour—your wedding dress will transform into a formal gown perfect for any number of special occasions. We do have to warn you though: Not all fabrics and embellishments are compatible with colour dyes (lace is permeable and won’t soak up colour, while a fabric like silk will usually take colour well), which is why you should trust a professional to dye the garment for you. You also need to make sure you get your dress cleaned before colouring—stains could set or be exacerbated in the dyeing process. Talk to a trusted cleaner about whether or not the chemicals they use to launder your dress could potentially react strangely with anything in the dye or the fabric of your dress—if so, this could affect your plans, and it’s smart to know beforehand.

Trash The Dress!

The idea of trashing the dress is something that is not right for the bride, but if you are a fun-loving, adventure seeker with a passion for unexpected things, then it might be perfect for you! Trashing the dress is when you do something daring after the wedding while wearing your wedding dress while a professional photographer captures amazing photos. We have seen couples in the waves, or swimming underwater, bungy jumping, immersed with wildlife, 4-wheeling through mud, expressing themselves with paint, rock climbing and so much more! Anything that you are passionate about could become your trash the dress moment.

Wear Her Again!

We think every bride has dreams of wearing her wedding dress again. And we think it is a great idea! Have it cleaned and preserved after your wedding so when you are ready to put her on-again, and she is just as fresh as the first day you wore her. Here are a few great ways that you CAN wear your wedding dress again.

  • If you wore a Two-piece wedding dress, then you can wear the bodice over and over again. Pair it with a skirt from your everyday wardrobe or your sexiest jeans and heals on your anniversary.
  • Did you wear a sleek sheath gown? Dress it down with a boho-chic suede jacket and some boho accessories.
  • Dye your wedding dress into a non-bridal colour and add it flawlessly into your everyday wardrobe.
  • Wear your wedding dress again at a vow renewal.
  • Plan a big party and invite all your friends to wear their wedding dresses.

Whatever you decide to do with your wedding dress after the wedding, make sure she is cleaned before you sell or store it! 

What will you do with your wedding dress after the wedding?

The journey to find your perfect dress takes a lot of time, effort, and money, so what can you do with your wedding dress after the wedding?

Your wedding dress is one of the most important elements of your wedding, especially since it’s not easy to find the right dress. The perfect dress makes a bride feel amazing during her big day. That’s why it’s such a waste if you just pack it in a box and store it after the wedding. There are so many options for creative things to do with your wedding dress after the wedding.

No matter what you choose, it’s certainly better than allowing it to gather dust at the back of your closet. Though it may take on a different form or be passed on to another person, you’ll still be able to remember it fondly all the same.

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