After months of organising a wedding, decision fatigue often hits so the decision of what to do with the wedding dress gets put to one side.
Many of us have wedding dresses still on hangers draped on the back of a door months, sometimes years, after our wedding day. Why? Lack of time, motivation and knowing what to do with it are all factors plus perhaps subconsciously we don’t want to admit that, yes, the wedding really is over.
With wedding season well and truly upon us, there’s no better time for thinking about the options available for keeping or letting go of your wedding dress.
1. Clean your wedding dress
First things first, make sure you have your dress dry cleaned. Ask friends, family, and work colleagues for recommendations. Look at reviews online and check whether the dry cleaner has insurance (just to protect yourself in the worst case scenario).
You want your dress cleaned by a dry cleaner who specialises in cleaning wedding dresses. Believe me, I’ve learnt that the hard way! Standard dry cleaning processes are not delicate enough or efficient enough for cleaning wedding dresses. You run the risk of discolouration, loss of shape or damage to the fabric and any beads/ lace. Cleaning your dress will remove stains that may only show much further down the line and will also help in deterring those pesky moths!
Although this may not have been an expense you bargained on, it is worth getting on with it as soon as possible after the wedding. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to clean fresh stains than old ones.
If you are going to be whizzing off on honeymoon straight after your wedding, try to plan ahead and research which dry cleaner you want to use and see if you can delegate the job to a close family member. This could also be a good idea for a wedding gift…You never know, you may be lucky enough to find it all sorted out for you on your return from honeymoon!
2. Decide whether to keep or let go of your wedding dress
Now this decision really divides people!
In the “keep” camp, the wedding dress is generally kept for sentimental reason. It could be for memory’s sake or for a future daughter’s wedding. It can also feel too soon when the cost of the dress is still burned into your memory or even the foreboding that you may jinx the marriage! Some brides keep it to wear on their anniversary each year (…perhaps worth telling your partner you’re going to do this so they don’t get too much of a shock!)
In the “let go” camp, the wedding dress can be let go of for a variety of reasons. It could be from not wanting it taking up space in their wardrobe, hoping to recoup some money from its sale or preferring it to go to a good cause.
There is no right or wrong decision and it is completely up to the individual but here’s some advice in each scenario.
a) Keeping and storing your wedding dress
If you choose to keep your wedding dress then you need to store it safely in a storage box with a fitted lid. The box needs to be made of a breathable material i.e. not plastic, and be pH neutral i.e. contain no acid or alkali. I recommend the beautiful boxes made by The Wedding Dress Box Company which come in a wide range of colours, patterns and sizes. Their boxes include acid-free tissue paper and fantastic instructions on how to pack your wedding dress. You can get these great wedding dress boxes on Amazon:
Tissue paper will become acidic if it is in a normal box and would need to be changed regularly. So save yourself the hassle and make sure you use acid-free tissue to start with!
You should put acid-free tissue at the bottom of your storage box, lay the train of the dress length ways and then lay the rest of the dress on top, with acid-free tissue between each layer. You should place several layers of the tissue on top of the dress and close the box up. The box should then be stored in a safe place away from extremes of light and temperature.
Once packed away, it is worth checking your dress around every 6 months to 1 year to ensure nothing bad has happened to it and this can help prevent any creases becoming too permanent
What NOT to do when storing your wedding dress:
# Store your wedding dress fabric next to any other item e.g. other clothes, linings of drawers or coloured tissue paper. These will discolour your dress.
# Hang your dress on a hanger long term as this places stress on the seams and shape.
# Store long term in plastic dress covers. These let in light, don’t allow for changes in humidity (which could cause condensation and mould). The covers can also disintegrate and damage your dress.
# Store in a normal cardboard box. The box you store your wedding dress in needs to be made from a special pH neutral board. This is so no acid passes onto the dress fabric causing discolouration.
# Store it in a garage, basement or attic. These tend to have extremes of temperature and are often where leaks/ rodent infestation happen – we don’t want your dress to be stored in a potential disaster zone!
b) Keeping and altering your wedding dress
Another option for keeping your wedding dress is to alter or dye it. This could mean that you can wear it on other special occasions.
You could get it tailored into a black tie dress, ball gown or cocktail dress – the only limit is your imagination and a good tailor!
3. Selling your wedding dress
Weddings are expensive so why not try and make some money back by selling your dress? You could still keep the accessories e.g. the veil or glittery belt, if you’re feeling sentimental.
To make the most money out of your dress you should try to sell it within 6 months of your wedding as your dress will probably still be in showrooms. Brides-to-be who try it on in the shop will be searching online to try to buy it for less. The quicker you sell, the more likely your dress will still be on trend!
Buying a wedding dress is like buying a car, it depreciates when you drive it off the forecourt — or in the case of the dress, wear it on your wedding day. After the first wearing, the resale price of a wedding dress could drop by nearly 50%. It is therefore important to be realistic about what price you are asking for your dress.
Options for selling your wedding dress for free are:
- Gumtree (www.gumtree.com)
- Preloved (www.preloved.co.uk)
- Shpock (www.shpock.co.uk)
- Facebook (for example, the Group “Wedding Dresses For Sale UK”)
- Next Door (www.nextdoor.com)
- Hitched – brides-to-be often post on this forum if they are looking for a wedding dress and then you can contact them directly (www.hitched.co.uk)
- The Dress Market (www.thedressmarket.net)
Options for selling your wedding dress where you may have to pay a fee or the selling site takes commission:
- ebay (www.ebay.co.uk) – it’s worth checking eBay first in any event to see how much similar dresses to yours have sold for. Search for similar dresses. Then choose “sold items” under “show only” in the grey bar on the left hand side of the screen.
- Sell My Wedding Dress – at the time of writing they charge £3 per item listed on their site with 0% commission (http://www.sellmyweddingdress.co.uk)
- Bridal Reloved – provides a boutique at which brides can actually try on your dress. At the time of writing they charge a £25 fee and 40% commission, listed for 6 months then £10 fee to extend (www.bridalreloved.co.uk/sell-my-dress/)
- Still White – at time of writing they charge a £17 fee and 0% commission and there’s no limit on how long dress can be listed for (www.stillwhite.co.uk/sell)
- Bride2Bride – at time of writing they charge a £12 listing fee per item and 0% commission for the dress to be listed for up to 12 months
4. Donating your wedding dress
This is a great way to feel good about letting your wedding dress go. There are lots of charities out there but here are a few great options:
- Cherished Gowns – this is a registered charity that provides the families of babies that are stillborn, miscarried or pass away shortly after birth with items of clothing that they are able to be dressed in for their funeral. They are made by volunteers from donated wedding dresses (www.cherishedgowns.org.uk)
- British Red Cross and Oxfam – these charities are always looking for people to donate wedding dresses. Just drop the dress off to your nearest shop (www.redcross.org.uk) and (www.oxfam.org.uk)
- Gift of a Wedding – this is a non-profit organisation which provides free weddings to people with a terminal illness. Get in touch on their website to donate your wedding dress (www.giftofawedding.org)
- The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation – this is a registered charity which organises and funds weddings for terminally ill people: (www.weddingwishingwell.org.uk)
If you need help letting go of your wedding dress or with decluttering any other items in your home, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to help!