Reuse, Repurpose or Recycle Your Dress
You still love your wedding dress but, for one reason or another, it’s time to let it go. Maybe it’s taking up valuable real estate in the back of your closet or perhaps you’d really like another bride to joyfully wear it down the aisle. Here are eight different ways to give your gown a second act – some are heartwarming, others clever, a few wacky but all are wonderful!
1. Turn it into a wedding accessory
Sewing becomes sentimental when you use fabric from your wedding gown to make ring bearers’ pillows or a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) for another bride’s “I dos”. You can even start a family tradition where patches of every bride's wedding dress from different generations are sewn into the lining of a new bride's gown so she may carry the wisdom of those women with her on her wedding day.
2. Make a decorative photo mat
Give your framed wedding photos a custom look by using fabric from your dress to cover plain photo mats. You’ll want to use the prettiest part of the dress like the beadwork on your skirt.
3. Throw a “trash the wedding dress” party
Invite your friends to bring their own wedding or bridesmaid gowns and have a ball – as in “paintball” – messing up your dresses by shooting each other with paint. Jumping in a pool or rolling around in mud while wearing your dress work well too! Trashing is popular with jilted brides, women getting remarried who want to destroy their first-time dress and those who bought an inexpensive gown not worth selling or passing down.
4. Convert it to a christening gown
If you’d love to see your daughter wearing your wedding dress, do it now while she’s young and can’t refuse the offer! “I had my dress made into a christening gown by my aunt, and both my girls were baptized in it,” says Elise Kavanaugh of Margate, Florida.
5. Fashion it into jewelry
If you’d like some new necklaces, bracelets or earrings, get out your wedding dress and start snipping. Some brides stick a piece of lace in resin to create their jewels while others send it to a designer like Gabe Bratton of Gabrielle Handmade Jewelry, San Francisco, who uses a wax casting process to turn fabric like lace into custom metallic jewelry.
“Creating a piece of jewelry, something simple for everyday wear or something statement-making for special occasions, is a wonderful way to enjoy your dress again,” says Bratton. “It creates an instant heirloom."
6. Donate it to a worthy cause
Plenty of local organizations would gladly take that silk tulle gown off your hands. Check out a community theater company, school drama club or a group that helps out low-income brides. Some charities also accept donated dresses, including Brides Across America, which distributes wedding gowns to engaged military servicewomen and the Bridal Garden, a nonprofit bridal boutique in New York that funds education programs for disadvantaged youth.
7. Wear it as a costume
It’s easy to wear your wedding gown on Halloween since there are so many possibilities: the Bride of Frankenstein, Glinda the Good Witch, a tooth fairy.
8. Restyle it for the second time around
Some brides are so wild about their dresses, they wear it again at their second wedding! But first they make major changes like altering the neckline, removing the sleeves or turning it from a long gown to a short frock.