Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ The Wedding Dress

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


In honor of my cousin Jenny’s wedding last Friday evening, I have pulled a post from the archives. I wrote this post after polling my friends about what they had done with their dresses.

What did you do with your dress? The unanimous answer – I still have it or once, my parent has it.

I have mine, which I still think is beautiful 15 years later. It’s hermetically sealed in a gigantic box and is in the top of one of the closets. This particular shelf is rather hard to reach, so the only things that would ever be placed on it are long-term storage items. I have enough storage room in the house, so it stays. Ironically, I do not enjoy looking at it. There is a big oval on the top of the box, and the dress is laid out beautifully, but something about it reminds me of looking into a coffin, so it kind of creeps me out. Weird, I know. However, since I told my daughters I was going to write this post, they’ve been clamoring to see my dress, so I am vowing here, before all of you, that I will pull it out and actually look at it soon.

While we like to think that our dress will be worn by a relative, most likely only a piece of it, such as the veil will make a second trip down the aisle. Accepting this notion, some women have cut up their dresses and given them new life as christening gowns or flower girl dresses. One woman I found on the Internet lets her children play dress up with it. I wouldn’t even let my children play dress up with the cocktail dress that I wore to my first wedding, so I know there’s no chance of them prancing around in the traditional gown I wore when I married their father.

In addition to keeping the dress, there are a couple of other possibilities for it. The first, of course, is to sell it. However, this needs to be done in the first couple of years, because no matter how classic we believe our dress is, styles change, and it likely won’t be sellable after 4 or 5 years.

The other option is to donate it. That I was able to discover, there is only one nation-wide charity in the U.S. that takes wedding dresses,  Brides Against Breast Cancer (, but even they won’t take gowns older than 2009.

But back to keeping the dress. I thought my girlfriends had interesting things to say about their gowns and their choices:

One of my friends despises her dress, but she still won’t part with it. Here’s what she wrote: Anyway, I have dragged the dress across the country four times. But I never throw it out because it’s a piece of history, if you will: a tangible remnant of my past that the kids can explore or chuck. So far my daughter agrees with me that the dress is pretty putrid. But she always says that she’d like to use parts of it for her gown. So who knows? Maybe butt bows will come back in style — and if they do, I’m ready!

Initially, this friend’s dress was saved by her mother, who later mailed it to her. I think it speaks to the feeling of intrinsic importance that we place on our gowns: By “mailed” I’m being literal: She just slapped some stamps on the hermetically sealed boxes –no wrapping, no insurance, no anything!– and sent ‘em US Mail. When they arrived, our mail carrier –who was a woman– knocked on our door and proceeded to berate me for 15-minutes about the “irresponsibility of sending something as precious as a wedding gown” in such a manner.

Another friend said: My husband wanted to know why I was keeping it recently and I didn’t have a very good answer. It seemed like bad luck to get rid of it or something.

This friend’s husband is with the U.S. State Department, and they move around the world every two years. While she did not keep her dress, her father cannot part with it, and it lives at his house. (And, as you will read, she’s a natural declutterer): So interesting that everyone who answered has kept their wedding dresses! I’m surprised. Maybe because I move so often, I just can’t keep stuff. I cried the day we had to sell my grand piano, and I think that was the day I learned not to develop an emotional connection to “things.” I haven’t looked back since, and now I am queen of “get rid of.” The only things I would hate to lose are my scrapbooks. In contrast, everything my parents purchased was to last a lifetime (actually several generations’ lifetimes). I think it may be something about that  generation, or perhaps growing up in the Depression. I now can’t imagine living that way, with all that stuff piling up!

In the end, though, I think this friend said it best: Every so often I think I should sell it just to make space but you know, I’ve got SO MANY worthless things that could be gotten rid of, I am keeping the dress.

Well said! – Declutter what is not precious, so you have room to save what is.

Today’s Mini Mission

Refurbish something. Maybe something has become clutter because it needs a lick of paint to bring it back to life.  Even if you end up not using it after all at least if it will now be in better condition for whoever finds it at the thrift store or if you decide to sell it.

Today’s Declutter Item

While taking yet another sweep through his keepsake box my husband found yet more foreign coins that we have no use for or sentimental attachment to. I took them to the bank where they are donated to Unicef.

Foreign Coins

Eco Tip For The Day

Where possible replace disposable items with reusable one ~ coffee cups, batteries, food storage, coffee filters…

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Sentimental to Whom? Cindy's Weekly Wisdom Recently my in-laws were in town. They went to their storage unit and returned to my house with a glass pitcher that they thought we might like ~ it had belonged to […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Memorabilia Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
  • From the Archives ~ Day 294 The Wedding Dress This week Cindy sent me a link to an article for Friday's Favourites. It is an article about what to do with your old wedding dress. Cindy had written a post about this subject back in […]


  1. What to do with a wedding dress can definitely be a fraught and personal decision. I decided to donate mine. I figured that I wouldn’t wear it again, even with alterations; nor could I, actually. An increased training regimen that added muscle to my back post-wedding meant I couldn’t even zip it all the way up on my first anniversary. My husband is 14″ taller than I am, so any daughters I may have in the future would probably find it hilariously small even if they did want to wear it, and I have so many beautiful pictures. I just wasn’t that attached to keeping it around or having it made into something else.

    I considered Brides Against Breast Cancer, but ultimately decided to go with Brides Across America, which donates dresses to military brides (like me!).

  2. I got rid of mine after my marriage ended. Gave it to a church rummage sale, and if felt so good to let it go!

  3. I’ve kept my wedding dress because it is so beautiful and it is an heirloom made by my mother. I’m a historian and a seamstress so I know the value of my own gown for future generations. I wish I could see and touch my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s gowns. I have pictures, but the tactile is so much more interesting.

  4. Great topic. I have never understood why people had them “cleaned” and put in those huge boxes where they could then not touch them. Then I saw an investigative report where the show host(ess???) and her guests opened their boxes only to find the dresses had not been properly cleaned in the first place. So I patted myself on the back.

    Mine takes up a soft suitcase I’d no longer use because now we have luggage with wheels and handles. I was thrilled to pull it out and have it fit again. Then even find it was too big! I still love that thing. It’s gorgeous. I hope my girls will recycle/reuse it. I paid more than I could ever hope to recoup but not as much by any stretch as some do and don’t have a ton of pictures so being able to play dressup from time to time with my girls is fun!

  5. My wedding dress was absolutely beautiful — a classic style in candlelight taffeta.

    I, too, had mine “heirloomed” with the hermetically-sealed box. Many years later I had the opportunity to donate it to a missionary who runs a bridal shop in the capital city of a third-world country. She rents out the dresses to brides and the earnings from the rental fees enable her to buy food for families in remote villages where the poverty is severe.

    This was a happy gift for me, as my beautiful dress was able to be worn, not just once, but many times by different brides, and benefited the needy as well. I am grateful to the friend who told me about this opportunity and for the chance to meet this missionary when she came to my town.

  6. My first wedding dress, when I married my late husband, was a summer dress. I wore it for several years afterwards.

    My second wedding outfit was a soft pink skirt and top, quite smart, which again I wore for many years as a “best” outfit.

    Both weddings were in a registry office, so no white dress expected.

    No white wedding dress worries for me!

    • That’s how I feel as well! I can’t imagine spending more than $5 on a dress I know I will only wear once. I plan on going in a similar direction as you, “splurging” on a nice dress or tailoring for something I can wear again and again. I don’t see the point in the big white dress just to feel bad about getting rid of it.

  7. My mother made my wedding dress, along with a matching shirt that went over the groom’s (now referred to only as AH1) back brace. The wedding was wonderful; the marriage was horrible. But the dress is beautiful. My daughter is taller & “weighter” than I was, so she won’t wear it, but I still like it, and I have plenty of room. It requires no special care, and it’s made in a timeless style.

  8. I gave the wedding dress from my first wedding to a thrift shop. It was a beautiful and simple dress but not one I would ever wear again (because of the style). My second wedding dress was actually meant to be a party/prom dress. It is white and very cute. I plan to have a few alterations made on it and have it dyed. Then I can wear it whenever I feel like being girly and pretty.

    I don’t actually understand the attachment to a dress you only wear once.

    • The cost, honestly. For me, it’s hard to throw a $700 dress away that I wore only once.

      It hasn’t been professionally cleaned though and this year is our 6th wedding anniversary. I think I’ll wear it for Halloween and donate it.

  9. I donated my wedding dress to my kids high school drama department. They were happy to add it to their stock and I just might see it again some day in a 1980’s school play. Like Rachel said, I don’t really have an attachment to my dress and my daughter would never want to wear it, she’ll want her own, in style, dress when the time comes. I still have the groom, so I don’t really need the dress!

  10. The decision was made for me. I had planned to have my dress professionally drycleaned and archivally packaged. My mother offered to do this as a gift for me. She didn’t. She literally threw my dress in a large dress box and wrapped it in brown kraft paper and twine which I mistakenly thought was an extra layer of protection over and above the drycleaners packaging. Imagine my surprise many years later when I uncovered her deception and lie. Dress was ruined and thrown away.
    Still bugs me after 35 years.

  11. I Freecycled mine last year, after shlepping it through several moves. It lived in spare room closets for eleven years, never cleaned or stored properly. A nice lady from a small theater company was happy to take it off my hands. No regrets here.

  12. Since I’ve never been married, I don’t have a wedding dress to wonder about. I will say though that my idea if I were to ever get married was to get a nice dress and the groom a nice suit and stand up at the end of the morning’s service and have the pastor marry us. For me, I can’t see all that cost for a big wedding.

  13. Mine is in a box done by the drycleaner with all the right tissue and wrap and what not. If the house burnt down and it was lost, it wouldn’t bother me. There is no way I will ever fit it again and it is so old fashioned from 20 years ago. Both my daughters are taller than me, my 14 year old might be able to squish into it right now.

    I think it is because so much heart goes into making the day perfect that its a hard one to get rid of. Mine is in the ceiling storage.

  14. Fashions change so quickly that wedding dresses are better donated (or sold or given away) right away after the wedding if you’re not going to keep them as an heirloom – the longer it’s kept, the less useful it becomes to other people (like a lot of things that I have trouble decluttering).
    I didn’t wear a dress to get married and I’m so glad I don’t have the giant coffin box. If I can’t see and touch something, I don’t feel like there’s any point in keeping it. I have heard about people who dress in their wedding clothes every year for their anniversary – they wear them to work or wherever they’re going that day. Crazy fun and silly!

    • Those people sounds like liars! Who the heck can get into their wedding dress two or three years later???

  15. Last visit to my hairdressers revealed a trend , trashing your wedding dress. They were talking about young brides who wear their dresses in the surf, jump through mud puddles, roll around in a hay stack , all in front of a professional photographer who takes these memorable pictures. I was somewhat shocked by this, considering the expense of most wedding dresses. Sometime it is done the same day as the wedding or on a different day. I am still shaking my head.

  16. Cindy, your conclusion is just right – declutter the useless, the ugly, the worn out … so there is room for the good stuff.

  17. I wore the “family” wedding dress at my 1994 wedding. My mother wore it in 1966 and even though she is divorced from my father, I did not attach any bad feelings to the dress. It belongs to my aunt and was made by her mother in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s and was also worn by another random family member. It is a classic ivory color, peau de soie (kind of a silky-satiny fabric) skirt and lace top part made to fit an average sized, average height bride. I am so relieved I did not have to find my own wedding dress or worry about what to do with it after!

    • That amazing. I think you’re the first person I heard of who has worn an old dress. That’s fantastic.

  18. Four years ago, I put it in the dustbin when my husband decided to flee away (after 35 years), but … I still have a piece of material in order to do some enbroiedery on it ! To day, I wonder if I shouldn’t give it away as I have no idea of any design fitting this very white material.

  19. I thought it would be fun to wear a second hand dress, kind of romantic and waaaaay cheaper… I saved a bundle by buying from a consignment shop. It fit perfectly so no alterations either. About 6 months into the marriage I was hating how much space it was taking up in my tiny place and terrified it would get ruined (too poor to have it boxed). So I took it back to the consignment shop and reclaimed about half of what I paid for it. It made me happy to think some other lucky bride to be might find it, love it and have a very good day in it too!

    19 years later I am still married, I have tonnes of photos of that beautiful day in that pretty dress with the man I still love with all my heart. The pictures take up a fraction of the space that the dress did. AND there isn’t a hope that I’d ever fit into that gown again! Since I had 2 boys, I’m relieved I didn’t try to save it for a potential daughter.

  20. Rebecca B. A. R.

    My mom made my wedding dress, so it only cost $50 (she made the 2 brides maids dresses, too–$25 each–my whole wedding only cost around $1000). Mine is hanging in a garment bag in the closet, and takes up very little space. I will probably never be able to fit into it again. It was made to look somewhat like the wedding dress that Buttercup wore in the movie “The Princess Bride”, so a pretty simple, classic style. Although I love it, if someone else in our family ever wanted to wear it, I’d pass it on to them.

  21. I hired my dress so I didn’t have to worry about what to do with it afterwards. My sister-in-law who has been decluttering decided she no longer wanted hers which has been hanging in the back of her wardrobe, as it was a constant reminder of her divorce, so it got sold on Trademe. She was happy to get a few dollars for it and the buyer was happy to add it to their fashion collection.

  22. Wedding Dresses – I have told my daughter who takes Technology Soft Materials (what we would have known as ‘sewing’ when we were at school) and is taking an extra course in Textiles next year – I’ve told her if she wants to cut it up for project or use the lace off it or whatever, she is welcome to it.

    My mother-in-law still has her mother’s wedding dress even though it is in bad condition. I don’t know why she keeps it but I doubt she could be convinced otherwise.

  23. I wore jeans, Doc Marten boots & a tie-dye shirt at my first wedding & was extremely happy. I’m on my second marriage now & we wanted a no-fuss & laid back wedding. My wonderful hubby helped me pick out a red dress that we both loved & it definitely had to be something I could wear again 🙂

  24. Sorry, another necropost!

    My prom dress was mostly white and still fit, so I re-wore that for my wedding. One of my roommates gave me a dress preservation box, so I dutifully had the dress dry cleaned and then stuffed it in the box. In a big decluttering a few years ago, I gave the dress to a thrift shop. My sister bought a second hand black prom dress for her wedding and had mom make her a lovely white cape. Upset her mother in law, but she looked good. Don’t know if she kept the dress.

    • Hi RebeccaJ, well done to you and your sister. Talk about going against convention. Two recycled and one of them black. Yay, I love a good non-conventional wedding. My daughter says she is getting married in a drive-thru in Vegas. I suppose that will be somewhat expensive because we now live in Australia but I’m all for it if that is what she wants.

  25. Just had to respond to this! My wedding dress was my cousin’s and we took it in to fit me. I gave it back to my cousin afterwards as she still wanted it. My youngest daughter was married this year and went the formal route as her fiance is from a more formal family. She purchased a dress from goodwill for the wedding horse photos, her real dress she wore on her big day and danced away in. She is having the dress altered into a shorter dancing dress as she and her guy love to dance and are very good at it. Her original dress was a full size Disney princess style dress. I thought it was great when the lady who did her alterations was able to remake it for her! My eldest daughter chose a dressy dress for her wedding that she could continue to wear for special events after the wedding.