Monday, November 15, 2010

What did you do with your wedding dress?

What did you do with your wedding dress?

If I had known back then (29 years ago) what I know now (that I was going to end up throwing my wedding dress into the trash) I'd have donated it years ago!!!

After last week's post at telling how my dress after being stored and sealed for almost 30 years ended up with an ugly brown stain (and ruined) and I ended up throwing it into the trash! So sad...but what was I storing it for? I have 3 grown boys and they certainly don't want it. Two already married and the other I'm sure his one day "wife to be" would love to choose her own gown.

So, I asked you...all of my MSP SYSters: "What did you do with your wedding gown"???

I got hundreds of emails...but here is a sampling. They are varied, funny and quite interesting. It really makes you think about WHY you are still saving your wedding gown, LOL!

Oh, Leslie, I can identify completely with you on the wedding dress story; had mine sealed, moved from house to house for the past 29 years, etc. The only difference is that I do have a daughter, but she is 2 1/2" taller than me and we are built nothing alike. I found out after opening my wedding dress box last year (after my daughter's engagement announcement) that my dress had yellowed (even though I had paid dear money to have it sealed), and it was terribly out of style. My daughter wanted~ and deserved~ to pick out her own wedding dress. Like you, I tried my dress on. It did zip ~barely~ but it sure didn't make me happy to try it on and see the changes time had made to my body. So I just packed it up and took it to the thrift store the next time I went. The moral of this story is: keep the pictures, keep the memories, but get rid of the dress! Love, Sherry

I feel so much better -- I thought I must be horrible after I pitched my wedding dress after 35 years about 6 months ago. My mother in law certainly thought I was horrible. Here was my thought -- perhaps I would have it on display on my 50th anniversary, but then do I REALLY want people to see how much I've "grown" since then? Because, although I am maintaining a reasonable weight and stay in fairly good shape, no way am I ever going to be a size 1 again. Ever. Nor do I really want to cart that big box around from house to house as we downsize, which we are determined to do now that the kids are gone. Space will be at a premium, and I could have that one big box of never-get-to-wear-it, or a bunch of clothes that fit who I am now that I can wear every day and look great in. So I shelved my sentimentality, and will console myself by looking at wedding pictures when I get nostalgic. Love, Gini

Being frugal shoppers, 18 years ago, my mother and I purchased my wedding dress at a Goodwill donation store. After the wedding the dress lived in my closet with mother clothes, occasionally I would pull it out and admire it and think of the special day. Years went by, a few home moves, two children. Hmmm.... maybe my daughter will want to wear it someday? Last year, I pulled the dress out of the closet and thought.... WHO AM I KIDDING? My daughter is not going to want my wedding dress, she is going to want something beautiful of her own for her special day. I asked the dress where it would like to said "I'm still in good condition so send me back to where you bought me, so that I may be of use to someone else." That very day I took it and donated it with love in my heart.

Thank you for reminding me, MSP. The truth is, I still have it. It dates from 1979 and like yours, it is just sitting in the attic - not even in a special box, but in a big old suitcase. I haven't looked at it for years, and had forgotten all about it!

I am going to get it out tomorrow and see if parts of it are still worth salvaging for re-use, like the lace trim. Or, my little nieces are coming over for Christmas this year, and I just have the sewing machine out at the moment: maybe I could make some dressing-up clothes for them, how about Christmas-angel-type outfits? We will all have lots of fun that way, and it will be so much better than having to throw the dress out!

Now I can't wait...... thanks again for the tip!  Anna in France

Hi Leslie! Love the website and want to thank you for the fine tuning you have helped me do through my colors and my body type. Several years ago my parents had their home almost demolished due to Hurrican Ivan. After a hurricane and tornado,there was nothing left in the house. Across the street and several houses down we found some of their belongings. Two things we found were my mom's wedding dress ( she is 80 and has been married over 60 years) and my wedding dress ( I have been married 28 years and am 53). Because both the dresses were ruined with sea water, i took the liberty to throw them both in the dumpster. This was something my mother could not have done since she was still in shock from loosing EVERYTHING. I am not as sentimental as she but i did have a bit of trepidation about throwing those symbols of early love into a dumpster but after the toss I felt very liberated- after all those are only symbols of what has matured into 85 years plus of true love and life! As the lady in your column so rightly said, I would not go back to that time for anything yet I appreciate that time as it did help me become who I am today! Just like wine, we ladies get better as we age- thanks for reminding us of that!

-- Kathy

Good for you for finally letting go of the dress. It's just a shame you didn't do it 20 years ago when someone else could have been blessed with it before it was ruined by that hanger. I hope by sharing your story, many other women will pass on their gowns before they are worthless. :-)

I don't have a story about a wedding dress because I didn't have a big white wedding. 21 years ago, I was 6 months pregnant and made my own dress from a pattern with willowy models sketched on the outside of the envelope. Needless to say, my 4'11" pregnant body did NOT look all lithe and floaty in that dress, and I can't even think what happened to it. I suppose I gave it away many years ago.

It was hideous. If I did it again with what I know now, the dress would be a different shape, colour and fabric. Love, Kas

Thank you for this chance to share my story.

I kept my dress for 8 years. It was beautiful :) but no daughters to pass it along to, and what? keep it for 30 more years to offer my sons' bride? That's a relationship off to a happy start!

I gave it to my dry cleaner. Originally from Egypt, she has ties there still and at her church in Egypt they have a collection of gowns that they lend to brides who marry there. I'm happy to know that my gown, that made me sooooo happy and feel so special and beautiful may go on to do the same for some other woman. I took it to a photographer beforehand, and she was happy to take photos of it for free! as an experiment in photographing a still life. I sent along the veil as well. But I kept the tiara - and smile every time I see it in my dresser drawer :) Love, Mary

I had to laugh at your article. My wedding dress is still in its hermetically-sealed box in the basement. I haven't looked at it since I was married in it 36 years ago! That dress has lived in four states and moved five times without ever seeing the light of day. Although it would fit my daughter, she won't want it and there's no reason for me to save it. Perhaps it's time to declutter that large box and its contents! Sue in NoVa

I chose not to have my dress sealed. I have kept it on a wooden hanger and have a big piece of plastic over it. Nearly every wedding anniversary I take it out and put it on. Yes, there were several years when I could not zip it up, but now I can again. My kids always look stunned and amazed when I come out every May 6 with it on. I think they can't believe that I actually wore something with that much lace!!! I am glad that I chose not to seal it and I am glad that I kept it. I hope that our kids see this as a way that I honor that special day that my husband and I promised a lifetime commitment to each other. 21 years and counting........!! Lorrie

I got married while I was in the Air Force. Due to my job I was in Saudi Arabia up till 6 days before my wedding. I MADE my dress in a mad dash in 3 days.

When my daughter was about 3 I gave her the dress for dressup. She and her friends had a BLAST with it.

She was married last summer. She bought and wore a beautiful dress. She, unlike me, NEVER intended to keep it. She DONATED it about 3 months after her wedding to a group that gives the dresses to needy brides. She said she LOVED that dress and wanted another girl to feel beautiful on HER day. Lee Anne

I borrowed my best friend's wedding dress and gave it back to her after my wedding. I had it professionally cleaned and boxed like you did as a gift to her after I wore it. I hope she doesn't find her wedding dress ruined like you did. I have never regretted my decision to borrow a dress. I recently celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary and brought out a few things from our wedding to commemorate the occasion. My Born Organized daughter said," I am glad your anniversary is over so you can de-clutter those two totes full of wedding stuff downstairs." She is right, sometimes it's best to let go of those things - they do not define who I am anymore. I will always have sweet memories and pictures of our wedding and that is all I need. Susan B.

It's funny you should ask where my wedding dress is. I've been

divorced almost a year (after being seperated over 2 yrs) and just

yesterday I was looking in my closet at my old wedding dress that I

did not bother to get put in a cute keepsake's just still

hanging in plastic like you're not supposed to do. Almost 17 years

later. But it is there nonetheless taking up room that I do not want,

along with some random suits from my ex's great aunt who gave them to

me because they no longer fit her but were expensive. And they are

beautiful relics of the 1960's. So I almost threw them all in a bag

for the Goodwill because why am I storing that emotional clutter? But

I didn't. Why am I not having a problem editing my real wardrobe but

these 4 items in the back of the closet fill me with guilt when I

consider tossing them????? Seriously, I don't want to pass on this

wedding dress. We watch Say Yes to the Dress- I want my daughters to

find their own special dresses. I didn't want to burn the dress or

something equally destructive, as I've heard other divorcees doing....

I'm tossing them. Thanks for the timely reminder. I feel much better

now. (Why I needed an email to give me permission to toss the dress is

beyond me.) Sue

I appreciated your "shocking" wedding dress post. I agree with the philosophy of keeping the memories, but passing on the clutter. I was married 17 years ago, and the gown hung in my closet in a zippered bag for several years as I wondered what to do with it. Then, the perfect opportunity came along: I saw a local-newspaper story about a woman who was going to Africa and collecting used wedding dresses to give to african women so they could use them to start a business.

Apparently, in this part of Africa (I can't remember anymore what country, unfortunately), women rent western-style gowns to be wed in. So a nice business is to have several wedding dresses and rent them out to brides.

So that's where my beloved dress went, all the way to Africa to hopefully bless MANY brides, as well as the woman who owns it and her family. I've never regretted that decision!

I do have a teenage daughter, but if she ever gets married, I want her to have a special dress that she gets to choose and that suits her personality and figure and shape, not mine.


I wore a lovely lilac coloured dress for my informal wedding, which I loved. Unfortunately, it got dark stains on it at the reception. For 23 years it hung in the back of my closet, stains and all. I always had in mind to wear it again for my 25th, then finally realized that unless the stains came out, that would not happen. With great trepidition, I hand washed it using good old baking soda, and presto! - it cleaned up so well it almost looked new. There was the problem of not being quite the same size, but a talented dressmake was able to alter it, and my groom and I both wore our wedding clothes last year for our Silver Anniversary party. I still love it.

Alice, Ontario, Canada

My 37 year old wedding dress is still in the big gold box, up in the garage rafters! The box was opened 4 years ago when my daughter was getting married and thought she wanted to use my veil. The lace on the veil didn't work with her gown, so that was a no go. She said the dress style looked like something from Night of the Living Dead! I was finally willing to part with it before our move 3 years ago, but it was my husband who wanted to keep it! So there it sits, opened, in the big gold box, in the garage rafters. I believe the veil is stuffed in a green garbage bag somewhere. Sandy

For my (first) wedding in 1963 I wore my grandmother's wedding dress, which had also been worn by my mother for her wedding. My grandmother had married in 1909 and since she worked at Marshall Field in Chicago, she'd bought the dress there. It was a lovely gown and I have many photos of it from my wedding in 1963. When I retired 15 years ago, I became very interested in genealogy and had traveled back to Jerseyville, Illinois, to research my family, since that is where my grandmother had lived when she was young. The people at the historical society were very helpful, and I had enjoyed seeing the historic gowns they'd put on donated mannequins.

A few years later, it was evident my nieces were not interested in wearing the gown for their weddings and I had no children. I asked my siblings if they'd mind my donating the gown to the Jersey County (IL) Historical Society and they agreed it was the thing to do. I contacted the society and they were happy to have Grandma's wedding dress, so that is where it resides. I also donated the copper plate that was used for Grandma's wedding invitations and the plate that was used for her "at home" cards.

Marina, a happy Syster

My sister-in-law and I cut pieces from my mother's wedding dress and used them to make Christmas tree skirts. Lovely. Kathleen

I was married in 1970 and my mother made my dress out of satin, strapless, princess style, full length with a satin train and a matching headpiece. She used needles instead of pins while she made it so the holes wouldn't show. She put lace and buttons up the sleeves. It was gorgeous. She put it in a small, flat, plain box and gave it to me. I took it with me from place to place as I moved over the years. Around 2000, I pulled it out from under a bed and opened the box. It was as white and beautiful as 30 years before. My hometown was planning an exhibit of wedding dresses worn in that county over the past century. The criteria was that the dress had to be hand made locally and for a bride in that area. My mother approached the historical society about displaying it and they did! I didn't get to see the exhibit but it's stored now in a temperature controlled area with the other historical wedding dresses. I'm historical!

My mother has been married 52 years and has 5 daughters and 1 son. Her wedding dress was a size two. (A 1950's size 2!) I was the last girl to get married and her dress was never worn by myself or my sisters. My Mom LOVED her dress. She cut off the beautiful trim and attached it to sand dollars to make Christmas tree ornaments for all her children. Every year when I pull out that ornament it warms my heart to put a piece of my Mother's special wedding day on our family's tree. Betsy

I got married in jeans the first time and a two piece outfit the second time but.....I have cut up people's wedding dresses and made them into memory quilts in the Victorian Crazy Quilt style. They are GORGEOUS!!!! Rebecca

Hi Leslie,

My wedding dress is still in the box, however 5 years ago we took my mother's old wedding dress (approx 45 years old then, never cleaned or boxed properly) and used the best pieces to create 2 christening gowns for my twins. We had to use some new fabric, but used lots of the decorative lace and as much of the old fabric as we could. We are going to try to save those for their kids since my son was able to wear his great-great grandfather's christening gown which was over 100 years old. If it doesn't last, like you said, we have pictures and stories.

We also made some hankies for my niece to use at her wedding someday in the future. It will be her 'something old' and as a memory of my mom who has since passed.

Just a little sentimental re-purposing! Cheryl


I rented mine in the first place. If men can rent a nice Tux, why not rent a nice dress? Photos were nice, the rental included a bridal portrait day and the wedding day. I turned it back in after the honeymoon and never looked back.


After getting married I eventually took my dress to a second hand shop and they bought it. I have been married 20 years this past July. Some days I wonder if that was the right thing to do. After all I now have a 17 year old daughter. But she is totally fashion forward. Even wanting to major in fashion/journalism in college and writing a fashion column in her school paper.
Would the style I wore 20 years ago even appeal to her now? I’m about 99% sure it would not. Not to mention when I told her it cost me $500 in 1990 from JCP she told me, “What? That is nothing!” She of course watches those wedding dress shows from NY which show dresses costing thousands!

And after Leslie told the story of her dress being ruined even though it was in a box I’m glad that I sold mine all those years ago while it was still lovely for another bride to buy and wear.

I do still have my veil. Any chance the daughter will want to wear it? Only time will tell. Stephanie

I went a totally different route with my wedding dress: I was on a very tight budget for my wedding, but I still wanted THE dress. I went to every wedding shop in the area I live and I found it! However, the dress was more than half my budget for the entire wedding. One day I was rhapsodizing over my perfect dress and trying to rationalize the price, and describing it in detail to some distant family members during one of our occasional get togethers. Suddenly my cousin said "You can borrow mine". She had kept her dress, all cleaned and sealed. It was a stunning dress with lots of lace and beads and a beautiful, long train. It was just what I had been looking for. She told me that it may as well get used again - as it wasn't likely her daughter would wear it. So on my wedding day I wore the dress of my dreams, and I have the photos to show for it - without the attached clutter.

This is what I'll be doing with my daughter. The men rent tuxes, why can't we rent dresses?

Flybaby in Vancouver, Canada

I washed my wedding dress in the machine when I found it in the basement. It turned out fine. Then I hung it on a floor lamp in the living room to put it on display. I finally thought I must be out of my mind because I had divorced my husband years before and threw it out.

My sister had worn the dress when she got married. When she found out I had thrown it out she said I should have given it to her. She's a pack rat and would have no use for it. It would have gone into her basement.

I feel I saved us both from hanging on to a useless item and have no regrets.

I hung my wedding dress in the back corner of my closet. Twenty-three years ago when I had lost 40 pounds on Weight Watchers and finally landed my "dream job" -- teaching high school English -- I tried it on and discovered it was too big! But since I had sewn the dress myself, I saved it for my daughter's wedding. Her reaction? "It's so 1970s." True, but very stylish for 1972 when I wore it in my wedding.

Needless to say, she did not wear anything from my wedding in hers. It was a new century, so why should she dip back into the past?

Three weeks ago we moved out of our house for a major remodel and I put the wedding dress in storage. I was not ready to let go of it, but as I look at the "new" construction, I have decided to get rid of everything that is not essential to my life. The couch, refrigerator, stove, and bed remain. The wedding dress will join its sisters (other garments that are out-dated and "out-grown) in the dump. I am keeping my husband of 38 years. We have both retired and are enjoying the "new phase" of our life. We don't need reminders of our wedding DAY. We have many years of past memories and are busy making new memories. We are enjoying the "gold" of our "golden" years.

HOPEFULL THESE ENLIGHTENING STORIES WILL HELP A BRIDE TO BE! It's my opinion to now just go ahead and rent a beautiful dress for your special day!!!


  1. I made my dress then took it apart 4 years later when I was pregnant and made a beautiful bassinet skirt out of newborn son pooped all over it the first time he slept in it.

    You live and learn :0)


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  2. Oh, wow Kim! You certainly do live and learn.

    Quite a few women stated they had "repurposed" their wedding dresses. I never thought of doing that except making it into a shorter dress.

  3. My mom wore a blue mini dress when she married my dad in 1971. When I married in 1995, she cut that old dress up and made my garter out of it. What a treasure that is. My dress? It's still hanging in the garment bag, unpreserved. I'm going to get rid of it now ... my daughters will want their own updated dresses.

  4. It was great reading everyone's comments! I realize this is a pretty old post. My husband and I got married 2 weeks ago and I love my dress. It is simple without embellishments, but the way the chiffon fabric falls in vertical "ruffles" made me feel like a Grecian princess. However, since the beauty of the dress is in how it looks when I'm wearing it, I don't think I'd get any enjoyment out of looking at it in a box every few years. Still my sentimentality was making the idea of donating it difficult. I think I am going to donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer though and let another bride who feels out of character in rhinestones and lace fall in love with how the skirt falls and someone battling breast cancer will benefit as well.

    None of you will probably ever read this, but thank you for your stories.

  5. Thanks Erica for your comments. Congratulations on your new marriage too! Your dress sounds lovely.

    You've only been married a short time so no need to rush into any decision...however I think you will be happy about your choice to donate your beautiful wedding dress. For now, enjoy seeing it and having it. A couple of years from now you may be ready to share that pretty dress so someone else can feel as lovely as you did on your special day.

    You will always have photographs from your wedding day, not to mention you'll carry the memories forever in your heart.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. I pulled my dress out when my only daughter got engaged. It was too small for her! Boy did that make my day ;-)

    I'm going to hang on to it for a little longer with the plan that once I can wear it again, I'll take pictures and then take it to a thrift shop. So far it still looks good and I have seen other dresses there.

  7. Dear Book Dragon, I love your idea of taking a picture of wearing it again BEFORE you give it away. I wished I would have done that. Yes, I could still wear mine (30 years later) I got it zipped up too...just could breathe, LOL! Best of luck to you. Congrats on your daughter's engagement! Leslie

  8. More than frugality, it’s actually a sweet thought to wear a hand-me-down wedding gown, particularly those dresses which were actually sewn by their mothers or grandmothers. But if you don’t have a daughter or anyone to pass down the dress, then just keep it as memento. After all, it’s a token from one of the most memorable days in your life. Carroll Hall @ Celestina Bridal Boutique

  9. We are going to complete three years of our wedding, next month. Yesterday, I was arranging my closet and came across huge space occupied by my lovely wedding dress. I thought that neither have I worn it even once after wedding nor am I going to wear it in future. Then I decided to sell it on a donation site where we can donate used things for poor brides. I was pleased to sell my lovely dress at half price.
    sell your wedding dress


Thanks for leaving your comment. I hope you enjoy my blog and stop by often!

Love, Leslie

4 Steps to Chic

1. Start with a feminine top 2. Pair with classy slacks 3. Ground with bold shoes 4. Finish with statement earrings ...