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

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.

Get Your Dress Cleaned

Whether your wedding was indoors or outdoors, it's likely that your gown will get some wear and tear. Sweat, makeup, dirt, and smudges could cover your dress. The best plan of attack is to get your dress professionally cleaned as soon as possible after your wedding to keep any stains from settling in. Even if your dress doesn't look soiled, it's a good idea to get it cleaned before storage or resale.

If you're jetting off on your honeymoon right away, be sure to ask your Maid of Honour or even your Mother to take care of dropping your dress at the cleaners soon after the wedding day. This will help ensure that the cleaning is taken care of promptly to avoid any staining.

Check out our range of wedding dress dry cleaning services. 

Sell it

If you want to make a post-wedding profit and won't be devastated to see your dress go to someone else, consider selling it. You could use Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Sell My Wedding to list your dress. 

Set a price or state that you're open to offers. Add plenty of pictures to the listing including some of you wearing it so prospective buyers can get a better idea of the fit, and detail as much information as possible. Make sure you're clear about the condition of the dress and any damage from wear.

You may even want to offer buyers the option to view and try on the dress in person before buying, however, don't disclose your address within the listing and instead ask buyers to contact you directly. 

It may seem daunting to sell your wedding dress, but preowned wedding dress sellers such as Nearly Newlywed make it easy. In fact, it's our favourite, partly because you can get the gown cleaned as part of the selling process, and also because of its amazing selection. But any resale service or store works if you're hoping to give your wedding dress a new life after your own special day. You can make some extra cash and pass along the dress for another to-be-wed to enjoy (a major win-win, if you ask us).

Pass it on

Whether you give it to someone you know like your own daughter on her wedding day or someone you don't know, it's lovely to know that your wedding dress will be put to good use and in a safe home.

Donate it

Consider donating your dress to a worthy cause. Ask at local charity shops whether they accept wedding dresses, or take a look at websites such as Brides Do Good which is a charity centred on ending child marriage that accepts dress donations.

Again, knowing your wedding dress has been put to good use will bring a smile to your face, we're sure. If you don't want a big dress taking up most of your space in your wardrobe, donating is a fantastic idea. Donate it to your local charity shop where you know it will be looked after and where you know the money for it will be put towards a good cause, or a similar charity like Brides Against Breast Cancer for example.

Not only will you be giving someone the gift of a pre-loved bridal gown for a fraction of the price you paid but you'll also be doing a good deed by raising funds for charity, and there's no better feeling than that. 

Convert it

Have a seamstress or dressmaker transform your wedding dress into an evening gown or Christening gown for a younger relative. By converting your wedding dress, you'll not only get to see your wedding dress worn again, but it will bring back all your wonderful wedding memories each time you wear it or see it worn.

Reuse it

You could keep your wedding dress as it is if you plan to renew your vows a few years down the line. You could even retain it as an option for another female relative's wedding. 

Store it correctly in a dry and dark area within your house, ensuring that once it has been professionally dry-cleaned, it is packaged correctly in a box with pH-neutral tissue paper to prevent discolouration. You may want to take it out of the box every few months and leave it to hang for a few days to aerate it and allow any creases to fall out. Speak to your dry-cleaner or bridal boutique for their expert advice. 

Frame it 

But it's not all about keeping it hidden away in your wardrobe. You can keep the whole dress intact – with no risks of moths feasting on it at all – by framing it. Why not give it pride of place in your living room!

Turn your wedding dress into a work of art by having it framed and admire it every day. Display it in a communal area in your house or confine it to a more private space such as a bedroom or dressing room. There are many companies across the country which offer this service, although they may be hard to track down so ask among your friends, your bridal boutique or another wedding supplier if they know of anyone or search businesses on Google or social media.

Consider Preserving Your 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 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.

Preparing to preserve your wedding dress is something you should keep in mind from the get-go. When you've chosen your dress, be sure to consult the tag or the consultant to ask about the best ways to clean or preserve your wedding gown.

All gowns should be cleaned before storing or preserving, so make sure not to skip step one! Make sure you have your cleaner give you the chance to inspect your gown after cleaning and before it is packed for storage. If you're planning to hold onto your dress, perhaps to wear again or to pass it on to a future generation, you'll want to make sure it is packaged in an acid-free archival box.

Not sure if wedding dress preservation is worth it? Have a read of our article. 

Recycle it

However, if you can't bear the thought of parting with it even though you've got your hubby telling you it's too big for the wardrobe, recycle it! Transform it into a quilt that you can pass down the generations. Or if you'd prefer something a little more personal, how about custom lingerie? Or a Christening gown for your child?

Alter Your Wedding Dress

If you don't love the idea of retiring your wedding dress after wearing it once, consider getting it altered into a more wearable garment. Work with a tailor or seamstress to create a brand new piece of clothing you can wear again and again. Surprise your partner with it on your first anniversary to make the celebration even more special.

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 dye 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 definitely affect your plans, and it's smart to know beforehand.

Make it into a jumpsuit

Dying your dress is one thing, but it can still look a bit too bridal to wear to a party. However, if the skirt has plenty of fabric, a tailor should be able to convert it into a jumpsuit, giving it a whole new lease of life.

Make an artwork

You can very easily make your own artwork from a piece of your wedding dress to be put on permanent display in your home. Choose a detailed section and then place this with other mementos such as your bouquet or wedding invitation, in a shadow box.

If you don't feel confident creating your own shadowbox, look online for people that can do this for you.

Another idea is to use sections of the dress throughout your wedding album, or a scrapbook that you can make of your big day.

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 

Make a crib hanging

Some people believe that your veil or wedding dress should be turned into a crib hanging for your first baby.

If you are going to use your veil, make sure it has been dry cleaned first, then get busy with a craft hoop. (NB: the crib hanging should be clear of the crib, and your baby shouldn't sleep under anything like this until it's at least 18 months old.)

Store Your Dress

Here's an option for you: do nothing with it. If you hate the idea of doing anything drastic with it, then put it away in your cupboard. This way you can pull it out whenever you want – show your daughters, your granddaughters, and maybe even show yourself you can still fit in it.

Once your dress has been properly cleaned and preserved, you may choose to store it. One thing to keep in mind is to keep your dress and the box out of natural or artificial light that can alter the state of the fabric. It's best to store your wedding dress in a dark, interior room such as a closet. Another important note is that you'll want to store the dress box in a cool, dry place, free from any humidity or extreme temperatures.

Box it Up

Some services will dry clean your precious dress and then box it up for you for storage. You may want to keep it for yourself or to pass onto the next generation of your family one day.

Getting your dress properly cleaned and stored is the ideal way to ensure it is safely stored and will stay free from chemicals, bugs, light damage, and anything else that may affect it. Once boxed, it also flats ready to pop away in a cupboard until the next time it is needed.

Trash it

The most alternative option of them all – 'Trash the Dress' photoshoots have been known to take place after the ceremony or at the end of the wedding day! Whether this comes in the form of a romantic underwater shoot at your destination wedding, paint party or muddy country couples shoot, brides are letting go after months of stressful planning and adopting a reckless attitude to expressing their creative freedom! Don't forget you'll get some pretty unique wedding photos out of this too!

If you are thinking outside of the box with your wedding dress, something very cool is to have a professional photoshoot and trash your wedding dress. You get points for creativity on this one, and you can scour the internet for images and ideas, but the more adventurous and messier, the better.

Wedding dresses are so dramatic, and it can make a masterpiece of art when you trash it wonderfully for the cameras. Some 'trash the dress' ideas include:

  • Jump in the ocean, a creek, waterfall or fountain
  • Throw paint over it
  • Pour red wine all over it
  • Roll around in the hay or on the beach
  • Walk in the rain or jump in muddy puddles

Make sure that you get photos, however, as it won't be worth it otherwise. Your wedding photographer will likely have some great suggestions for effective shots.

In conclusion, there are several ways to give your dress a new life! Whether you opt to buy a pre-owned wedding gown or a brand new piece of designer couture, don't let it wither away in your closet for all eternity.

Consider recouping a bit of your wedding investment by selling your dress, throwing a party with your closest friends, donating it to other brides in need, or using it as another great photo opportunity with your partner!

Now you know what your options are. So go grab that dirty wedding dress from the back of your closet and let it sparkle again!


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