First things first- you should have your dress dry cleaned. This can cost anywhere from $150 up through and beyond $250, depending upon the fabric, details, stains, etc. Also, you can choose to have it preserved (usually comes in a special box, wrapped in a certain way, may even include gloves to touch it, very fancy) to keep it safer, longer. Whether you're keeping your dress or not, you'll want it to be clean, so take care of that right away.
Then do whatever you wish with it. This post was inspired by my recent 1-year anniversary and the fact that my dress was still hanging (not cleaned) in my closet, even though I knew when I bought it that I'd like to try and sell it to another bride after our wedding. So I took it out, called a shop in Ardmore, PA called Sabrina Ann Consignment, and made things happen. Sabrina Ann is a once-worn, never-worn and sample dress shop that sells dresses for less. We actually got my Pronovias dress there (it had formerly been a sample) and it looked brand new. When I called the other day, they said that I could bring it in and they'd check it out to see if it's something they could try and sell again, and then they said yes to my dress! As a consignment shop, they will give me half of the ticket price when it sells (it's going for $750, so I'll get $375), and as an upscale consignment shop, brides know that it's not just any dress. It's fairly new (within the past 2-3 years), well cared for, and only 'once worn, never worn, or a sample'. This particular shop does offer dry cleaning through a cleaner of their choice for $125-$150, and since I had not yet had my dress cleaned, I had to pay that $125 up front the other day. If it sells, they'll send me a check. If it does not, I can come get it in about 90 days and try to sell it myself or donate it. I'm sure there are many other shops like Sabrina Ann. Look for one in your area, or if you're in a bustling (no pun intended) wedding region and up for a challenge, consider starting one up yourself!
I have a good friend who recently found her favorite dress in a bridal shop then went online and found it in her size on ebay for a fraction of the cost. It arrived in a huge box in perfect condition, as if it had never been worn and she saved a bundle. If you're looking to pass your dress onto a bride on a budget, this is one way to do it.
Not sure how much to charge for your old dress? This link for a Preowned Wedding Dress calculator may be able to help.
You can donate your dress to a local theater group, thrift store or to a charity, such as:
Brides For a Cause resells the garments to help fund weddings and vow renewal ceremonies for couples facing terminal illness and other serious life-altering situations.
Brides Against Breast Cancer resells dresses from individuals and businesses in more than 100 shows nationwide each year. Money raised goes to provide free wellness and education services to cancer patients and their families and caregivers.
The Bridal Garden resells donated dresses for up to 75 percent of the original retail price to help disadvantaged children in New York City.At http://www.donatemyweddingdress.org/, you can find out how to donate your dress to a military bride, a disadvantaged bride, a terminally ill or severely challenged bride or groom and more to help make their wedding dreams a reality.
Wish Upon A Wedding is an amazing organization that helps create dream weddings for deserving couples. Your dress can make a difference, and other wedding leftovers can help as well!
Do you or your bridesmaids have dresses lying around that you aren't wearing? Consider donating to Fairy Godmothers, Inc. With locations in Philadelphia and Berks County, this magical organization sends girls to their high school prom in style.
Wear it! On your 1 year anniversary, make reservations for a REALLY fancy meal, then wear your dress and have your hubby wear a tux, just because.
Some girls decide to do a Trash the Dress photo session (beautiful, artistic, meaningful, possibly a little sad for the dress?)- just look up Trash the Dress on Google- and it may get covered in paint, mud, water and moss, etc., but you'll have that artwork forever. Plus, dry cleaning may still get everything out. One way to go...just not my way. Oh and please, have fun with it if you go this route, but try to be somewhat respectful toward your dress. Some of these sessions are just plain mean, and after all, this is the dress in which you married your best friend. Associate some more pleasant, happy memories with it!
Some ladies want to keep the dress around for their one-day grown up daughter(s). Sentimental, meaningful, nostalgic and oh-so-sweet.
Some girls repurpose the dress, having it hemmed and even dyed so that it can be worn again. After all, it is the perfect fit NOW, so change it and use it for another occasion before you change size/shape and can't wear it anymore. Plus, each time you wear it, it essentially goes down in price.
Planning to have a baby? Will the baby be baptized or christened? Consider using fabric from your gown for baby's gown.
Some older moms have used lace and fabric from their gowns to have garters made for their daughters' weddings. Can be a something borrowed, a something old, and a some blue (if you tie some blue ribbon into it.
Be creative! Have fun! But whatever you do, do something! Dresses that go unpreserved and uncleaned will yellow, fade and could even get dreaded mothballs. With so many wonderful potential after-lives for your dress now that your wedding is done, the possibilities are endless.
Crossing my fingers that another bride finds and LOVES my dress!! What did you do (or what do you think you will do) with yours?!
By the way, in January 2014 right as I was starting to worry that my dress wasn't going to find a new home and a new purpose, this happened! Yippee!
...and in October 2014, a friend told me about this!
The Blushing Bride helps preserve the beauty of your gown, as a framed drawing for you to keep.
It was featured here and is a brilliant idea!
Check it out and send The Blushing Bride some post-wedding love.