After the Wedding: The Wedding Dress

February 6, 2015

Image courtesy of MichaelWill Photography

This was a hard one for me. I loooooooove my wedding dress, as do most girls. I just couldn’t imagine putting it in a box and not trying it on. So for two and a half years my dress sat in the bag it came in at my parents’. I would try it on whenever I went home to Pittsburgh and just enjoy all the pouf and glitter. I even brought it out for some pictures on our 1 year anniversary at Cape May.


Unfortunately this past November I took my dress out to look at it and I could tell the stains were setting in and they seemed to be spreading, boo. So I knew it was time to make a decision. I thought it might be beneficial for other brides to see the options that are out there:

  • Clean/Preserve Your Dress – With this option you really need to be careful with the company that you choose. I’ve heard horror stories so I was really particular when choosing a company (aka when Ben was doing the research for me).
    • Kits & Dry Cleaners – You can buy kits where you mail your dress to a company and they clean your dress and then send it back in a box once it’s clean. You can also take it a dry cleaner and they’ll clean it and pack it in a box for you. These two options are both reasonably priced, but you really need to make sure that they can actually do wedding dresses. The downside to these services is you usually don’t see what your dress looks like until years later when you unpack your dress to show your daughter.
    • Wedding Gown Specialist Association – Ben, the amazing researcher that he is, found the Wedding Gown Specialists Association… yes there is actually an association. They have certified members that clean your wedding dress according to standard museum-quality practices. Plus you can arrange to inspect your dress before it is packaged (in front of you) in a “acid free, archival-quality wedding gown chest” with acid-free tissue. And, oh yes there’s more, if you do decided to take it out you can return it and they’ll inspect and press your gown at no charge! This option is a little pricey, but I got to see my dress before it was packaged and let me tell you, it was beautiful! It looked completely brand new and so white. All of the beading was in place and the tulle was still glittery 🙂 I actually gave Sandra at Owl Cleaners a hug because I was so happy!
    • A couple of notes when storing your dress:
      • Remember when storing your wedding dress that it should be stored in the largest box possible to minimize the number of folds to the dress.
      • It should be protected from the light (so the boxes with the plastics windows should not be used).
      • Make sure the box is completely closed so bugs and dust don’t get in to the dress.
      • Your dress should also be stored in a room that is temperature regulated and not humid (a cedar closet is great idea).
      • Dresses should not be wrapped in plastic.

Westchester, Wedding, Photographer, Trash the Dress

  • Donate It – This is a really great idea if you want to see your dress live another day. (Bonus – it’s tax deductible!) There are a lot of good charities out there, if properly researched, that reuse wedding dresses for some great causes. Here are some of the ones I found, but there are so many out there:
    • The Brides Project – Resells the donated gowns and uses the money to support families effected by cancer.
    • Wish Upon a Wedding – This nonprofit provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-changing circumstances.
    • The Bridal Garden – A NYC not-for-profit charitable organization who sells donated gowns at a 75% off the original retail price and uses those proceeds to benefit education for disadvantaged children.
    • Brides Across America – BAA makes military brides’ dreams come true by giving them a free wedding gown during their Nationwide Gown Giveaway.
    • Brides Against Breast Cancer – Uses the donated dresses for their fundraising “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” at charity bridal events and non-bridal networking events. The revenue generated is used to deliver free educational information and support services to thousands of children and adults impacted by cancer across the country.

Westchester, Wedding, Photographer, Trash the Dress

  • Sell It – I can’t imagine ever doing this, but if you could sell your wedding dress. Like with donating your dress, please make sure to properly research the companies and their credibility. I found a couple of websites that allow you to sell (or buy) wedding Dresses:
  • Do a Trash the Dress Session – I love this idea because it allows you to wear your dress again and get some more great pictures! John + Lauren contacted me for a Trash the Dress session because they wanted some outside pictures since their wedding was during a snow storm. Lauren also wanted to get some pictures at her family’s farm.

Westchester, Wedding, Photographer, Trash the Dress

Westchester, Wedding, Photographer, Trash the Dress

Westchester, Wedding, Photographer, Trash the Dress

  • Show It Off – This something I want to maybe do one day since it’s already cleaned. I’ve seen a couple different ideas on the internet that could be neat:
    • Hang your dress or put it on a manikin to display in your home.


    • Display your dress in a shadow box (this also a great way to keep it preserved).



  • Make It Into Something New – There are so many ways you can use your dress again, if you’re willing to cut it up (that’s hard for me to even type). I would suggest to use an actual seamstress for these ideas:
    • A quilt
    • A table runner or table cloth
    • A christening gown for your child
    • A charm for a necklace or bracelet


Wow that was a long post! I hope this has given you some ideas if you haven’t done anything with your wedding dress or another sentimental gown. Do you have any other ideas that I missed?


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