Day 294 The wedding dress

A guest post by: Cindy Bogard

Colleen asked me to write another guest post, and I was not filled with inspiration, so I polled my friends: What would you like to read about? Sentimental clutter was the most popular answer, and one that Colleen has tackled numerous times. But there was also a challenge, specifically the sentimental clutter of The Wedding Dress, big, bulky, and probably never to be worn again. What to do with The Dress?

So I polled my friends again: 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 13 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 (www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org), but even they won’t take gowns older than 2005.

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.

ITEM 294 OF 365 LESS THINGS

Just a few more kitchen items that haven’t been used in three years. If I need to core an apple I will borrow an apple corer from a neighbour – problem solved.

More kitchen items

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Those odd flashes of brilliance – Like this morning when it suddenly dawned on my that I can listen to CDs with my son’s PS2.
  2. The walk, chat, coffee combo – a little exercise, a little socialising and a coffee what more do you need to start your day off well.
  3. Neighbours with a good vegetable garden – I only ever need a little bit of lettuce and when I buy a whole one it usually mostly goes to waste. When I get lettuce from Fred I only pick what I need and it’s free.
  4. Getting something free that you thought was going to cost you $110 – There is a bloggers festival in Sydney in November and the day I wanted to attend was going to cost $110. It has now being sponsored by pctools and is going to cost me nothing.
  5. Cindy writing this post for me today she had clearly put a lot of thought and effort into it.

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • 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 […]
  • Day 315 What Motivates You to Declutter? A guest post by Cindy Bogard What motivates you to declutter? Why are you doing it? I was thinking about this questions for myself and came up with these reasons, immediate and […]
  • Day 261 Decluttering with kids A guest post by Cindy Bogard This summer in May, I discovered Colleen’s blog and committed to a 365 decluttering on June 1. I keep myself honest (and hopefully inspire others) by writing […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. My wedding dress hangs in the closet. Every now and then I put it on and laugh at myself. Eventually, I’d like to put it on and go jump in a lake while my husband takes pictures! I think that would be fun. I even know what lake I would like to jump into, with a shallow end and everything.

    Destroy the dress and give us more memories, so to speak. Since our 5th anniversary is next year, we’ll probably do it then.

    • I completely forgot about this, but while googling “should I keep my wedding dress,” I found photographers advertising “trash the dress” photos. I was horrified, thinking that the couple was throwing mud at each other or something, but no. These are photos where the dress will likely be ruined afterwards, but which are very lovely: the bride standing in a stream, under a waterfall, or laying on the beach. I guess this is what you’ll have in mind when your husband says, “Go jump in a lake!”

    • Hi Lynn,
      my wedding dress is at my mother-in-laws and has been since our wedding 23 years ago. I doubt it fits any more. I like the jump in the alke idea that would make for some great photos.

    • my husband and I celebrated our 5th anniversary this year and did a Trash The Dress Shoot (TTD). It was a blast!
      I had my dress preserved and when I opened it up for the shoot I discovered that the preservation seal had broken through a series of moves and odd temperatured storage spaces. TTD ended up being a good option since it was no longer preserved!

  2. I actually brought my wedding dress (actually an evening dress) to rural France. What the hell was I thinking??? Not too many balls out here in the country.

    Anyway, I love the picking lettuce from the garden concept. We hope to have a veg garden at our new village house, food for us and food for our neighbours.

  3. I got rid of my dress and had no problem doing so, after all I have pictures of it. I wanted to sell it a couple years after getting married, but my mom wouldn’t have it, so I held on since they did pay for it. After years of it hogging space in my house, I just donated it to a friends charity garage sale. No regrets.

    I do have other sentimental clutter, but for some reason I was not sentimental about my dress.

  4. I have a couple of friends who couldn’t decide what to do with their wedding dresses. They had wonderful scrapbooks of the wedding as well as professionally made videos. So they decided to have a good friend use their wedding dresses to make wedding quilts. These quilts will be given to each child at their wedding. They are gorgeous quilts. One daughter decided to have hers mounted on a rods and it hangs behine her bed as her “headboard”.

  5. Calico ginger :

    Ah… what to do? I have my wedding outfit (a beautiful and expensive Italian linen suit) downstairs in the “decide” pile now. My marriage is over, my daughter thinks it is hideous (but that could change – she’s quite into vintage). I never did wear it anywhere but my wedding, so it doesn’t hold great memories for me just now. I just get paralysed when I look at it – oh, and it’s too small for me really. Anyone else in my boat? Advice please!

    • I kept my first wedding dress until this year, although I have been divorced for about 20 years. It didn’t hold any great memories (no dreadful ones either), but I did think it was beautiful – and it was the most expensive dress I’d ever purchased (until I got married again, that is.) I wouldn’t let my kids play with it, because I didn’t really want to see it, but still I couldn’t part with it. If you want it gone, hand it to your daughter and let her drop it at the thrift store. Occasionally I’ve had to have someone else throw something away for me. It does make is easier. Good luck.

  6. I get heart palpitations thinking about the brides who intentionally ruin their dresses which they chose so carefully and paid so much for. Can anyone help me understand what the point of this is? I’ve read about it several times in different places but I’m not having that aha moment yet.

    • By the way, Cindy, great idea and great post!

      • Thank you for the compliment Jo.

        I’m with you; I couldn’t intentionally ruin my dress. Google “trash the dress photographs” and look at the images. Some are quite lovely. Maybe if it wasn’t called such an unappealing name!

    • I agree with you–I don’t get it! (I never understood the smear cake in the face photos either)

      • Those cake on the face photos are hideous Jessiejack! I feel like smearing your beloved with food is a very disrespectful way to begin married life. I think that’s why I had such a strong react to the unfortunate name “trash the dress.” I thought it would involved smearing cake or throwing mud or something really awful.

        I suppose the dress photos appeal to the part of us that wants to be a fashion model – rolling around on the beach in a beautiful gown or wading into a picturesque stream. You know the model doesn’t care one hoot if the dress is unusable afterwards.

    • A friend of mine just did this. Her reason: She had just left her hubby (he was abusive & she finally had enough) and didn’t want the horrible memories that went with the dress. Oh! She has a son & doesn’t want to pass down bad “ju ju”. Haven’t seen pics of the final, but can’t wait. 🙂

  7. Great post, Cindy! My dress is gone gone gone these 10 years. After realizing that the sealing didn’t work and the lace was all yellowed AND both of my girls are at least three inches taller than I, I dumped it.

    My younger daughter loved playing dress up so I gave her all my old prom dresses and she and her friends had a great time wearing them around the house for YEARS. Fun memories. Even more fun than the proms were.

    • Dress up has been a huge hit around my house for the past 10 years. Even now, my kids like dressing up and wearing costumes, and they often pull out their dress up clothes when friends come over. Since they’re older, most of the clothes in the basket are real clothes – fancy dresses that I’ve purchased at the thrift store or things that were handed down from my mother.

  8. I love my wedding dress and had such a wonderful day that I will keep the dress for longer. I look at it every 5 years or so. I might have it made into a quilt or wall hanging with the lace etc. but I would never want to trash it! If I got divorced though I would donate it and probably just keep a bit of lace

  9. I’ve thought about getting rid of mine. We’re expecting our first (and prob only) child; if it turns out to be a boy, I’ll probably get rid of it.
    There is a local woman that takes old wedding and prom dresses and “refurbishes” them. She makes sure they’re in good shape and then sells them at a reasonable price to women that can’t afford an expensive dress. My sister actually used her service this year. I think she paid $75 for the dress, including a custom fitting.

    • That’s a great bargain! One of my friends got her dress at a trhift store for a mere $10 (marked down from $70). While some of us don’t want to get rid of our dresses in part because of how much they cost, she doesn’t want to get rid of it partially because it was such a bargain.

  10. I don’t know why I still have my wedding dress. I hated it, I should never have taken my mother dress shopping with me 🙁 And yet, 17 years later I still have it. I failed in that I didn’t have it washed or boxed after the wedding, it hangs in a cotton duvet cover in my bedroom, in the way! I really am tempted to ask my friend who is studying fashion, whether the material would come in handy. Can’t see either of my daughters ever wearing it.

    And yet still I struggle to hand it over.

    • Hi Lesley,
      I think sometimes we feel obliged to follow the tradition of keeping our wedding dresses whether we like it or not because it’s the “done thing”. I think many people would be glad to see the back of them but it just wouldn’t be right. Don’t ask me why because I still have mine as well and that is the only reason I can think of why I do. Mine is cluttering up my MILs house though and not mine and that may be the only reason why it hasn’t been decluttered yet.

  11. I still have mine. Mine was bought for $700 from a shop in 1999. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It fit nearly perfectly (minor fitting). The veil was hand-made by a dear friend as one of our wedding gifts…I had bought the cheap (from Claire’s) tiara, toille, and other accessories; she made it. It had been stored in my grandma-in-law’s downstairs room (technically a basement, but well aired and not creepy), but when she got bad (getting dementia), I decided to mail it UPS to our house (in then England) the next time we were there on leave. Since I don’t speak Italian, I haven’t been able to find a way to get it sorted into a proper box yet. We’ll see, but for now, it’s here & safe from random flooding & other weather.