The guests are gone, the gifts are unwrapped and your perfect wedding dress is hanging in the closet gathering dust. So what do you do with it? Here are fun ways to reuse or preserve your gown.
Your wedding day has come and gone, you’ve returned from your honeymoon and, as you’re unpacking, you spot it: your wedding dress. Yes, that gorgeous gown you may have spent a ton of money on is hidden in a garment bag.
So do you leave it hanging in your closet to gather dust? Do you donate it to a secondhand store? Do you save it for your daughter? Or do you alter it so you can rewear it?
Luckily, we have some answers! Here are 8 things to do with your wedding dress that will make your big day live on.
Brooklyn dress, andforlove.com.
1. Rethink what a wedding dress should look like
Apologies to you newlyweds: This first piece of advice is for brides-to-be. “If you’re going to rewear your wedding dress, the easiest way to make that happen is to buy a dress that lends itself to rewearing,” says Maddie Eisenhart, digital director and style editor for A Practical Wedding, an independent wedding website based in the San Francisco Bay Area. This means reframing your idea of what a wedding dress should look like.
Maybe that means you’ll be buying a short dress, or maybe that means you’re not wearing white, she says. “Buy something you think you would wear more than one time.” So, if your dream dress is a purple sequinned cocktail number or a long flowing floral confection, go get ’er!
2. Donate it
Traditional wedding dresses can be pricey. Fortunately, there are secondhand wedding-dress shops that cater to brides who want to find a designer dress without paying Vera Wang prices.
The Brides’ Project, located in Toronto, is one such place where women can donate their used wedding dress (or dresses—who’s counting?) and know that not only will they make another bride super happy but they’re also contributing to a worthy cause: fighting cancer.
“I think reused wedding dresses are a brilliant idea,” says Eisenhart. “They’re becoming a lot more socially acceptable now than they were a few years ago, and I think it’s a great way to extend the life of a wedding dress while also making it possible for other people to buy affordable wedding dresses.”
3. Display it
Rather than keep it locked in your closet, make your wedding dress the pièce de résistance of your home. One fun idea is to display your dress on a mannequin so you can remember your special day whenever you want. Another option is to get the dress pressed and framed like the work of art it is.
4. Create a wedding-dress album
Cut small pieces from your wedding dress—a piece of the skirt, a dash of tulle, a section of beading, part of the sleeve—and place them carefully in an album. Write down a memorable moment, be it from your wedding day or when you first tried on the dress—that reminds you of your gorgeous frock. “You can also create sentimental items such as a tooth-fairy pillow, bassinette skirting or a wedding-album cover,” says Kelly Spears, lead writer for the wedding blog The Plunge Project. “Choosing smaller items will allow your gown to go a long way.”
5. Make a wedding quilt
If you’re looking for a new project, a quilt can be a fun and meaningful way to channel extra energy and keep that lovin’ feeling going strong. “Simply cut the material into squares and add accents by using your wedding colours,” says Spears. “The quilt can also be handed down instead of the original dress.”
You can do this, you crafty goddess, you!
6. Make a cocktail dress
So you bought a sexy mermaid gown and you can’t wear it to a friend’s dinner party. Now what? Good news: There’s a cocktail dress just waiting to be unleashed from those layers of tulle. Since mermaid dresses have a figure-hugging silhouette, they lend themselves perfectly to a LWD (little white dress) once the train is removed. Unless you’re a sewing master, we recommend leaving this to the pros. Find a reputable seamstress in your area to remove the bottom of the gown.
7. Dress up your throw pillows
“My favourite way to repurpose a dress is to bring it into the bedroom,” says Spears. “Creating custom shams for your throw pillows is a romantic way to remember your special day.” Skirts lend themselves perfectly to pillows, large and small, and can make fantastic thank-you gifts for your wedding guests. (Think of all the fabric options: tulle, silk, lace!)
8. Preserve it
If the thought of cutting up your dress puts you on the verge of tears, don’t worry—it’s totally fine to keep it.
Rather than let it take up valuable closet space (because, let’s face it, most wedding dresses are voluminous), get it cleaned and store it in a box with tissue paper so it keeps its shape. That way, weeks, months and even years from now, when you take it out of its box, it will still look and feel like new.