Finding the perfect wedding dress and then seeing your gorgeous self in it on your wedding day brings up all the feels. (And just wait until you see the photos!) After all, your wedding dress is not just any cocktail dress—it’s very special. So, once the party is over, you might be wondering what, exactly, to do with your wedding gown.
What you do with your beautiful dress after the wedding is really up to you. You may choose to clean and preserve it, so that you can keep it forever. Or, you may want to get creative and donate it to a charity, or even have a fun “trash the dress” post-wedding photo shoot.
Read on for some more ideas for what to do with your wedding dress after your big day.
On your wedding night, after the reception is over and your guests have said goodbye, your first priority—understandably—isn’t going to be neatly hanging your bridal gown and putting it away. But, try your best. Keep the hanger and garment bag out and handy, so that you (or your new spouse) can hang it up and seal it as soon as you are back in your hotel room (or back home). Keep it in a dark closet away from the sunlight as much as possible. This will help keep the dress safe until you can get it professionally cleaned at a dry cleaner.
And, if you’re changing dresses at the reception, appoint your MOH or bridesmaid to be in charge of your dress to make sure that it gets hung up and delivered back to you safely.
Even if it isn’t that visible, your dress may have suffered some wear and tear just from the wedding night. If you got married outside, it may have some dirt or other stains; or, simply from taking photos and dancing, your dress may have some sweat or makeup stains. For that reason, it’s best to get your dress cleaned ASAP. (And, yes, you need to have it cleaned before it’s preserved, if you’re going that route.)
If you’re jetting off on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding, you may want to ask a trust-worthy relative or your MOH to drop your dress off at the dry cleaners for you. That way, you know it will get taken care of without having to worry about it while you’re off relaxing.
As for where to get your dress cleaned, choose wisely. Wedding dresses can be tricky to clean because they are very detailed and/or have delicate fabric, so you want to choose cleaners who have tons of experience with wedding gowns and dresses. Some cleaners may not have the equipment on site, so your gown may be cleaned after being shipped elsewhere. Ask what the cleaning process is, and don’t be afraid to try somewhere else if you aren’t comfortable.
If you want to hold on to your dress, or save it for future generations, you might want to consider preserving it. To store a wedding dress to make it last, a preserved dress must be kept in an acid-free, airtight box, which will prevent aging and discoloration over time. A specialist who preserves wedding dresses will work with you to assess any stains on the dress’s fabric, make any repairs (if needed), steam and clean the dress, and then wrap and preserve it.
You can also find online services where you send in your dress and, once finished, it’s shipped back to you in a preserved box.
If you don’t plan to keep your wedding dress (at least in its original form,) you have a few other options for what to do with it post-wedding.
Sell your dress: Another bride out there is getting married soon and is in need of a dress. Place yours up for grabs on Ebay or another site, such as preownedweddingdresses.com.
Stage a fun photo shoot: Some brides choose to do a “trash the dress” photo shoot in the water. Or, you could make it into a Zombie bride for an over-the-top Halloween shoot.
Turn your dress into something else: If you don't want to keep your dress as is, you may want to use the material for something else. You could shorten the wedding dress length and turn it into a fun, white summer cocktail dress. Or, you could cut off the sleeves and make it strapless, or, rather, turn it into lingerie. Lace material looks pretty repurposed as pillows or window coverings for your home. Work with a seamstress who can make your new vision come to life.