Wedding dress woes: What to do after the big day


Photo provided by Brides Against Breast Cancer


It’s been almost two years since the big day, and like many brides, Kate Bernhard, fashion design major at Mount Mary College, still has not decided what to do with her wedding dress.

“It’s in a box now, and will probably stay that way for a really long time,” Bernhard said. She and her mother designed and created her wedding dress, and she is considering leaving it to her future kids.

So, what can a bride do with her wedding dress after the big day?



Sell it

High-traffic websites such as eBay, Tradesy, Preowned Wedding Dresses and Craigslist can be efficient places to sell used items. Cyberspace can be an opportunity to make a sale with a bride who chooses to be more frugal.

Donate it

Another option for brides who do not like the idea of  money transactions with strangers is donating the dress.

Charities such as Brides Against Breast Cancer accept modern (from 2009 to present) dresses, slips and veil donations.

“I think it puts the bride who has already said ‘I do’ in a really unique position,” said Amy Paulishak, vice president of development at BABC. “It gives women a chance to pay it forward.”

BABC receives an average of 3,500 to 4,000 wedding gowns a year. After receiving the donations at the headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., each item is then cleaned, repaired and priced accordingly.

The gown is then transported to the charity’s “Tour of Gowns” events, where future brides can repurchase the gowns at more affordable prices. Events take place at hotel venues in cities such as Minneapolis, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Long Island.

According to Paulishak, the average cost of a wedding dress in the U.S. is about $2,200. At the “Tour of Gowns” events, gowns range from $75 to the most expensive dresses at around $3,500. The average purchase price at a BABC trunk show is $600. Seventy-one cents of every dollar made from the sale of donated gowns fund programs for people and their families who have suffered or who are currently suffering from cancer.

Although titled “Brides Against Breast Cancer,” the charity offers support to people with all types of cancer and helps to fund programs such as support groups for patients and family members, camps for children coping with the loss of a family member, exercise classes and nutrition classes.

Revamp it

As a more creative approach, some brides alter their dress into something new, such as a christening dress for a child. Another idea is to separate the bodice from the skirt and use the materials to sew a stylish, new outfit.

However, not everyone is a creative mastermind. With that in mind, some brides save their dress for future generations.

Janelle Judy, a sophomore fashion major at Mount Mary, is going to incorporate her mother’s wedding dress into her custom-made wedding dress.

“When I get married, the person who is making my gown will use my mother’s gown for fabric and other materials,” Judy said. “It is a way to incorporate my mom more.”

Display it

An alternative for brides that want to keep the dress intact is to put it on display.

Nicole Denton is the editor-in-chief of the blog “The Plunge Project.” In her post “9 Things to Do With Your Wedding Gown,” Denton came across the idea of displaying a wedding gown on a mannequin after watching an episode of “MTV Cribs.”

“Of course, you need a pretty big closet and a mannequin similar in size to you to do it,” Denton said. “But what girl wouldn’t love looking at her wedding gown every day as she gets ready?”

So don’t just let your wedding dress rot in the corner. Whether it’s donating or reusing, options are available.

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