What To Do With Old Wedding Dress: 6 Sustainable Ideas

You wore your dream wedding dress for your dream wedding… but now what to do with it? Many a woman leaves her wedding gown in the closet for years and years after her big day, but is that really the best idea? Isn’t that a bit of a waste?

We understand that you may have strong sentimental feelings for your precious wedding gown and all it represents, BUT sustainability is something we should all be thinking about, so why not explore a greener option? If just 1 in 50 brides recycled her wedding dress in some way, it would have a huge impact!

Here we discuss some wonderful ideas for what to do with old wedding dress…

What To Do With Old Wedding Dress

Sell It

It’s never been easier to sell your older items – you don’t even need to get off the couch to do it! So after the excitement of the wedding has died down and you’ve got your photos back, it might be time to think about selling your dress. This is a great way to recoup some of the money you spent on your big day.

You could use eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, or loads of other selling sites. Do a bit of research to see what similar dresses are being sold for – this will help you determine a fair price to sell it for.

You’ll also find some specific sites that re-sell wedding dresses which will give you access to your target market – have a look at Pre owned wedding dresses as an example. 

Note that you will need to have the dress dry cleaned to sell it (as a bare minimum) and it’s best to do this as soon after the wedding as possible.

Donate to Charity

This is becoming a very popular idea – you will find multiple charitable organizations that are happy to accept wedding dress donations. 

But note that not all charity shops will take bridal gowns so do look into this first, and double-check if they have any specific requirements on dresses. You may find that some charities will need the dress to be in good clean condition and under five years old. 

Not all couples have the funds for a big wedding, so wouldn’t it be amazing to know that your dress has helped a woman in need to feel amazing on her wedding day?

Research local organizations that help those in financial hardship. Or approach the big ones like Brides Across America who will pass on wedding dresses to military brides in need. Or Brides for a Cause who will collect your wedding dress and re-sell it, using the proceeds to raise money for various good causes. 

Donate to the Arts

Give your dress another moment in the spotlight – what a cool idea!

Have you thought about donating your dress to a local theatre group? Find out if there are any opportunities for it to be used in an upcoming production. 

Theatre departments in local schools or colleges may also be grateful for such a donation.

Re-Purpose the Dress

So, you spent a lot of money on your beautiful wedding dress and you felt amazing wearing it – it just doesn’t seem right that you only get to wear it ONCE!

Well, maybe you don’t have to! There are alterations you can make to create a new outfit from your wedding dress!

If it’s floor-length, what would it look like as a short dress? Or could the sleeves be altered to give it a brand new vibe?

It may be that the bodice and skirt could be professionally separated by a dressmaker and turned into two new items of clothing? You could end up with a fabulous satin/lace white top and a mini/midi skirt.

Maybe the whole thing could be fashioned into a beautiful cocktail dress!

And don’t think that it has to remain white! You can very easily dye your dress to transform it into a new item of any color you like. Even if you don’t feel fully confident making these alterations yourself, take your dress to a tailor or dressmaker and get them to give you some ideas. 

Get Creative with a Needle and Thread!

Have you thought about up-cycling your wedding dress?

Whether you are handy with a needle and thread or not, you could think about getting artistic and turning it into something else entirely. Maybe an outfit for someone else or a meaningful keepsake could be designed?

Here are some creative ideas for how to up-cycle your wedding dress. These are particularly great if part of your dress is dirty or damaged as these ideas don’t all require the use of the whole dress…


Create a Dress for a Child

If you have a daughter, niece, or goddaughter, wouldn’t it be just gorgeous to see them in a special dress made from your beloved gown? I love the idea of creating something new for them. This could be a communion dress or christening gown in white. 

Or re-purpose the gown and dye it for a bridesmaid or flower girl!

Make a Quilt

If you had a big wedding dress, you will probably have enough material to make some kind of quilt or baby blanket out of it.

I would speak to a professional to get some advice on size and design, but it would be a lovely keepsake piece for a future child.

Make a Wedding Album Cover

We all cherish our wedding photos, so wouldn’t it be lovely to house them in a special album cover designed using your favorite parts of your dress.

This would also work for a special wedding photo frame.

Create a Memory Box

Another sentimental option is to use the material from your wedding dress to cover a special memory box.

This could be used by you and your partner to store all your special wedding items, such as cards from your guests, the ceremony script, or letters to each other. Perhaps even your marriage certificate and photo album could live in here.

This box doesn’t just have to be used for wedding-related purposes – it could be a keepsake box where you store notable items as your family grows, or it could be handed down to your child for their memories to be stored in.

Design a Pillow

You could use the material from your wedding gown to make a beautiful series of throw pillows. A particularly intricate piece of fabric (a laced bodice or a beaded or jeweled section) could be used to give extra special texture to the front of the pillow.

Revamp Christmas Decorations

Convert your dress into Christmas decorations! This is a great festive option that could be used as a gift idea for your close family members too.

The more elaborate and detailed parts of your dress could be fashioned into white baubles with a satin strap for the Christmas tree. 

You could even create a luxurious tree skirt with your dress fabric! 

Fashion a New Bag

How about turning your dress into something that you would use frequently, such as a tote bag or purse?

Depending on the material this could be an elegant evening bag or a more casual day bag. And don’t forget this could also be dyed! 

Make a Bear

Another great idea is to create a keepsake teddy bear from the material – what a beautiful gift for a child that is close to you. Or perhaps a keepsake for yourself!

We recommend getting an experienced specialist to make this teddy bear so it is done right. If you cannot find someone local to take on the project then you can always find clever tailors on Etsy that can help you.

Create a Halloween Costume

This one needs less professional dressmaking help, but it could be a lot of fun!

If you’re not the sentimental type, then this is surely one of the most entertaining ways to get a second wear out of your dress… turn it into a Halloween costume! A friend of mine turned up at a house party a few months after her wedding with her new husband as a dead bride and groom – they looked amazing. 

It would feel great to wear your dress again but this time not have to worry about spilling anything on it – in fact, it’s quite the opposite if you decide to have dripping blood on you! Grab some dead flowers as a bouquet and flower crown to finish off the look. 

Keep It!

OF COURSE, if you can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to your wedding gown then you can simply keep it!

Who knows what the trends in wedding fashion will be in years to come, but the thought of passing your wedding dress down to future generations is a really lovely one. 

If you are going to keep your dress then you should ensure that it is in the best possible condition before you pack it away. Have it treated professionally; get to a specialist who will fix any stains or tears but also clean it in the most appropriate way for that specific fabric.

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