Many brides spend a lot of time looking for their perfect wedding dress, but once the day has come and gone, they don’t know what to do with the gown next. The good news is that there are tons of options, whether you decide to keep it, sell it or repurpose it.
But what if you’re in a different situation: the wedding was cancelled, or you changed your mind on what you thought was your dream dress. We’ll dive into each scenario and what you can do with your gown.
The first thing you should do with your wedding dress, no matter what you do with it next, is get it cleaned. We highly recommend getting it cleaned by a professional instead of cleaning it yourself. Look for dry cleaners that specialize in cleaning wedding dresses and check out their reviews online.
Preserving your gown is recommended if you plan to store it for a long time. Once your gown is professionally cleaned, you can choose to preserve your gown at home or send it off to a professional. Trust us, you’ll want to keep your gown preserved no matter what you do with it after. It will keep all of the details and embellishments in-tact and prevent the fabric from turning yellow. After it’s preserved, you can place it in a shadowbox or a giant frame to display it for years to come!
If you want to keep your dress but not display it, there are many things you can do to repurpose or reuse your gown. Many brides like to wear their gown on their wedding anniversary and take photos every year. Some brides do a “trash the dress” session where they take fun photos underwater, on the beach or in the mud. These photos always turn out great! You can also clean and preserve your gown after this session or throw it out.
Want to repurpose your gown completely? There are so many ideas and options to choose from. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Turn your gown into a new clothing item: shorten it into a cocktail dress or robe, create a first communion or christening dress for your future daughter or a kids’ costume.
Turn it into a teddy bear, baby blanket or bassinet cover. We love the stuffed animals from Crafts Hill Artisans and Pixie Dust Bears.
Turn it into an accessory like a purse or jewelry (a necklace, earrings, a ring, etc.)
Make it into art! Frame your gown or pieces of your gown and display it.
If you don’t want to keep your gown, try to make some money back! There are tons of websites where you can sell your wedding dress. Again, make sure you clean and preserve the gown first before listing it for sale. Take lots of photos and be up-front of any damages and/or missing embellishments. The more descriptive, the better.
Interested in donating it instead? Companies like Brides Across America, Every Girl’s Dream and Brides for a Cause will take your gown and sell them at a low cost for brides that are facing financial hardship. On a sad note, there are also companies like Angel Gowns or Baby Gowns for Eternity that turn your dress into a burial gown for stillborn babies or young infants that pass away.
What if you’ve changed your mind?
You’ve heard of getting “cold feet” on your wedding day, but what about getting “cold feet” about your wedding dress? This happens to a number of brides: they suddenly don’t want the original gown they chose for their big day. Maybe they had buyer’s remorse over the price, or the style isn’t what they want anymore.
If this happens to you, talk to someone at the bridal shop you bought it from and ask about their return or exchange policy. If the dress hasn’t shipped from the warehouse or if you haven’t started alterations yet, you may be able to exchange your gown or at least return it for store credit.
If you can’t return or exchange the dress for some reason, there are some ways to revamp the dress you chose. Alterations can do wonders—whether it’s adding (or removing) sleeves or shortening the gown. Adding embellishments and accessories can also totally transform the look of a dress. Just add a sparkly belt, a cute lace shawl or a stunning veil. If nothing else, pick out a fun reception dress to change into that’s more your style!
What if your wedding was cancelled?
It’s a terrible feeling to have to cancel your wedding, but it does happen. If you’ve already bought your dress, call a customer service rep from the company you bought it from. You may be able to get your money back or store credit, as mentioned above.
If that’s not an option, selling your wedding dress or donating it is your best option. It’s not ideal, but your gown could make another bride happy for their big day.