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9 Creative Things to Do With Your Dress After the Wedding

Repurpose, reuse, recycle.
Strapless lace wedding dress on a hanger
AMEX photography
Maddy Sims and Maggie Seaver
by Maddy Sims and Maggie Seaver
Updated Jan 30, 2020
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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.

Preserve Your Wedding 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 by The Knot 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.

Sell Your Wedding Dress

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 favorite, 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).

Donate Your Wedding Dress to Charity

Many organizations all over the country accept wedding dress and apparel donations. For example, Brides Across America gives wedding dresses to military brides in need. Every Girl's Dream in Michigan accepts both wedding gowns and evening wear for brides-to-be facing financial hardship, while Operation Prom and Cinderella's Closet will take wedding and bridesmaid dresses (and groomsmen tuxedos) to help dress low-income students for their prom. Brides for a Cause will accept your donation, resell your dress and use the proceeds to raise money for different causes. Another idea is Angel Gowns or Baby Gowns for Eternity, which turn wedding dresses into gowns for stillborn infants. If you don't have a specific charity in mind, think local and inquire at your nearest thrift store (or farther away if you'd rather not run into someone in town wearing your wedding dress)—the shop may be in need of a white gown restock, in which case, you'll make a lucky, local bride-to-be very happy in the near future.

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 

Looking for more ideas? Check out Pinterest for endless DIY ideas and visuals for what to do with your wedding dress.

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 color—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 color dyes (lace is permeable and won't soak up color, 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 coloring—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.

Have a Postwedding Photoshoot

Some brides get artistic with a postwedding photoshoot called "trash the dress"—and no, that doesn't mean the dress has to be completely ruined. It just means getting your picture taken in a less formal setting than you might have been able to on your wedding day: You might hit the beach, a pool, a creek, a nearby park or even somewhere funky like a carnival, arcade or bowling alley. Think about what places are meaningful to you, are fun and will make you feel like a fashion model for a day. Sure, you can totally trash your dress while you're there, but that part isn't required.

Host a Wedding Dress Party

Are you and your pals completely Friends-obsessed? Take a cue from the beloved sitcom and host your very own wedding dress party. Invite your friends over and ask them to wear their wedding gowns. It's a fun and creative way to give your wedding dress new life after your wedding day. Staging a flower toss is totally optional, of course!

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.

Turn Your Wedding Dress Into Art

Wish you could stare at your wedding dress all day every day? You can, with the help of professionals. That's right—you can turn your wedding dress into art by getting it framed. Companies like The Beautiful Frame Company and Outrageous Framing will work with you to frame your wedding gown. Hang it on your wall as a stunning art piece and sentimental reminder of your wedding day.


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