8 Creative Things You Can Do With Your Old Wedding Dress

Old Wedding Dress

Last month my husband and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary! We celebrated by taking a long overdue trip together to Mexico, where we relaxed, got matching sunburns, and enjoyed each other’s company. At one point we got to reminiscing about our wedding day, which sparked a conversation about the fabulous 80’s fashions we had our whole wedding party sporting. My wedding dress in particular was packed with iconic 80’s details, like a drop waist, poofy sleeves (with added tulle to make them extra poofy, of course), and a huge lace bow for good measure. :-)

I still have that dress, and reminiscing about it got me thinking about ways I could put it to good use. I’ve kept it mainly out of sentimentality, but 30 years later, it feels like a good time to do something with it other than just keep it in storage. So I started looking around online for inspiration for things you can do with an old wedding dress, and I found a lot of great ideas! I put together a list of some of my favorite ones, and I’m excited to share that list with you today. Now I have so many great ideas of things I can do with my wedding dress—if only I could just pick one! :-)

8 Creative Things To Do With Your Old Wedding Dress

Old Wedding Dress

1. Get Crafty

There are a lot of fun ideas out there for craft ways to use your old wedding dress. I’ve selected a few of my favorites to feature here, but there are likely dozens more ideas that you can find online!

  • Make a necklace, bracelet, or other jewelry item that features a piece of the fabric of your dress. (Inspiration from Living Well Mom.)
  • Use the fabric from your dress to make a keepsake garter to pass on to another bride. (Inspiration from The Inspired Hive.)
  • Use the fabric to make a throw pillow, and feature in your home as a piece of meaningful decor. (Inspiration from Attempting Aloha.)
  • Use the fabric from your wedding dress to create a christening or blessing gown for your future children or grandchildren. (Inspiration from Threads Magazine.)
  • Use the fabric to make a bouquet wrap, and give it to a close friend or family member with a wedding coming up.
  • Use the fabric to make a little girl’s dress that will make any girl feel like a princess! (Inspiration from Make It & Love It.)
  • Use swatches of the fabric from your wedding dress to decorate and embellish a photo album of pictures from your wedding.

Old Wedding Dress

2. Dye It

Your white dress may scream “wedding gown,” but dyeing it a different color can make it perfectly wearable for all sorts of occasions! Get the full instructions and details on dyeing a wedding dress at Brides.com.

Old Wedding Dress

3. Wear It On Your Anniversary

If your dress still fits, why not dust it off and wear it on your anniversary? Even if you’re not brave enough to leave the house in it, you can still relive the magic of your wedding day from the comfort of your own home.

4. Make A Jewelry Display

If your wedding dress has lace, use it to make a custom jewelry display that you’ll be able to admire every day! It looks great, plus it will help you keep track of smaller jewelry items like earrings. Get the instructions and details on making a lace jewelry display here.

Old Wedding Dress

5. Host A Wedding Dress Party

If you’ve ever wished for an occasion you could wear your wedding dress to, just host your own! Invite all your girlfriends over for a tea party where the dress code is “wedding dresses mandatory.” Make sure to take plenty of pictures! Inspiration from Bridal Guide.

Old Wedding Dress

6. Donate It

Instead of letting your dress get dusty in your closet, give it to someone in need. Brides Across America provides wedding dresses to military brides who would be unable to afford it otherwise. And you can find plenty of other organizations accepting wedding dress donations by searching “wedding dress donations” online.

Old Wedding Dress

7. Sell It

If you could use some extra cash, you can sell your wedding dress online. PreownedWeddingDresses.com makes it easy to sell your dress, and it’s much more affordable than through other companies. Just pay a $25 listing fee, with no commission or other fees required.

Old Wedding Dress

8. Trash It

Give your wedding dress one last hurrah by lining up a “trash the dress” photoshoot. These kinds of photoshoots have been pretty popular over the last few years, and people have gotten creative with them! I’ve seen photos of wedding dress clad ladies covered in paint, colored chalk, mud, wine… you name it! It would make a fun memory while giving your dress an epic sendoff. Inspiration from WedEclectic.

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • Another wonderful organization where you can donate your beautiful wedding dress is Angel Babies. The dresses are used to sew burial gowns for sweet babies who become angels long before their time. It’s sad, yes, but when you think of this sweet little one meeting Jesus for the first time in this beautiful gown made from your wedding dress, I hope it brings a smile to your face.

  • You can also have them made into fancy Christening dresses and also for nice baptismal dresses for girls – for after the ceremony.

  • My husband and I married in the late 1950s and still are married. My wedding dress was a cocktail dress costing $25. and my veil cost 30 dollars. My daughter wanted to wear it, but, alas, we could not afford to have it boxed in an air tight box, so it deteriorated, and fell apart. We were poor as the proverbial church mice when we married sixty two years ago. We bought a dump, according to my neighbor across the street. At least that is what her daughter said that her mother had said. OK, so it was but over these many years we have improved our home each year.
    We had three children, one is is now deceased at age 50, three years ago.
    Our home was crowded until one by one our children moved out on their own.
    Now, our home is amply sufficient for our needs.
    It is not “luxurious,” but we love it.
    One former neighbor belittled us for not moving to a pricier home and neighborhood. That was her choice and I hope that she is as happy as we are in our home.
    She, also, told me that she “wanted it all,” a husband, children and working full time.
    I did return to work, once our youngest was established in school, and worked until I was just short of 67

  • My Mom’s wedding dress is silk 1935; I created a replica of my mom’s wedding dress and bought a glass doll; and dresses the doll… Then I had my husband build me a glass cylinder so that I could display my creation.. 

  • You can also donate them to victims of sexual exploitation. I found a shop in Tucson, Az called Free Ever After International – http://www.freeeverafter.org – that takes in gently used wedding dresses. The shop supports these victims and also partners with other community organizations that are helping also. This shop mentors the girls to help them find their true identity ,value and purpose in life. The owner is a survivor herself. I will be donating mine to them. This is to me a very beautiful way of passing on what my dress meant to me. I also am appalled by those who just trash their dresses. Wedding dresses are expensive and trashing everything they represent just shows how low life has become in our society. If we really care about our society and what is happening to women consider donating to shops like Free Ever After International.

  • I donate many things and try to repurpose many more. The one exception is my wedding dress. It sits unworn and unnoticed in my closet but I know it’s there. Since it was for a second wedding, it is simple but definitely “bridely”. I will never part with it because, quite simply, it’s special. I like all the neat ideas people have but the one that seems ridiculous is “trashing” them. Really? Why? I can’t fathom wearing a formal dress and deliberately destroying it or, much worse, taking a formal garment off that is full of crud.

  • I was reading how some women back east take old wedding dresses and make dresses for babies that have passed away. The women donate those dresses to the families to help with.

  • Its our wedding anniversary soon and I’m going to use your idea of wearing my wedding dress. I’m going to see if it still fits later today when my husband is away. The dress has to go on over my head and that was difficult enough when we got married so I’ll invite a friend to be with me when I try it on just in case I get stuck and need her help.

  • There is one more thing you can do with your wedding gown….donate it to Angels Above Baby Gowns. They turn the wedding dress into a beautiful buriel gown for newborns who don’t make it home from the hospital.

  • My mom made me a ballet outfit from her wedding dress when I was about 4 years old. I loved it and wore it out. However, I would have liked to have worn her wedding dress when I got married.

  • My friend used the train to make a Christmas tree cover for the base. She sewed red satin on the back of the lace part. It is absolutely stunning.

  • You can also donate it to the many organizations around the country like ours – Angel Wings of Lake Travis – who make Angel Gowns that are donated to hospitals for families who experience the very terrible sadness of having a baby who has earned their angel wings way too early. Angelwingslaketravis.wixsite.com/angelwingslaketravis

    • Marilyn – Thanks for posting this. I make Angel Gowns locally where I live along with a couple of ladies in our town. It’s a great way to repurpose these unwanted gowns. The families really appreciate it too.
      Karen – If there isn’t an organization in your town — Start one! Check with the OB Dept. at your local hospital. They will welcome the gift of the gowns. There is no commitment, just your time as you are able to give it, and dresses can gather. Amazingly, once people in your town hear about it, you’ll have more dresses than you know what to do with! Thank you Marilyn and Karen for your generous hearts!

    • This is what I did with my gown. It was too out of date for any bride to want to wear it, and I love the idea of my cherished gown going to such an amazing cause!

  • I made Christmas stockings for all the girls in the family using antique quilts, the train from my wedding gown that my mother designed and made for the cuffs, and embellished them with buttons, lace, embroidered pieces, and jewelry – every part was either made by grandmother, mother, aunts or were from their personal collection (jewelry & buttons). For the guys in the family I made their stockings from antique family quilts with old jeans for the cuffs, and embellished theirs with more masculine buttons, Levi patches, conchos, military ribbons from a favorite uncle, and antler buttons. I have made 21 stockings so, and I still have the body of the dress. My SIL gave me her wedding dress that my mother also designed and made. I plan to make angels for everyone.

  • Mine is being saves for my daughter. My mom made my dress, so it is extra special. I figure when my daughter is ready to get married we can’t take what she wants from my dress to add to hers.

  • Angel Babies takes donations of bridal gowns and prom dresses and makes layettes for still born babies. Out of one dress, they can sew 10-20 tiny outfits. Check out Facebook for a group near you if you are interested.

  • I’m old fashioned and believe in tradition. I wore my dress in the 60’s..boat neck, layered slim skirt with Belgium lace from the bodice to the bottom, I loved it. Twenty five years later, my oldest daughter wore the dress. She had some alterations made; the boat neck became ‘off the shoulders’ and the lace was studded with hundreds of sequins and pearls; it was even MORE beautiful the second time around. I’m hoping one of my granddaughters will want to wear the dress for her wedding in the ‘not too distant’ future.

  • There is a website that you can send your wedding dress and they make lingerie for you from it… pretty pricey but if you know a seamstress or sew you may be able to create something as well.

  • When our son got married this past June, his Mother-in-law used both my dress and her dress to make the ring bearer’s pillow and the flower girl’s basket. They both turned out beautiful!!! Although, she did say she was quite nervous making that first cut into the fabric…lol.

  • Hi J! My wedding dress was a bit like yours, drop waist and all. We moved, so my mother and I donated both of our dresses to our cherished high school drama club. Pinned a big note on, “If can’t use, please donate to charity”.

  • I’m on the board of a 501c3 not for profit in Virginia, called Forever Angels of Virginia. We take donated wedding gowns and remake them into burial gowns, pouches, caps, booties, etc, for deceased babies. We have no paid employees and all are volunteers. We ship to hospitals and individual families with a need, at no cost to the either. We operate strictly from donations.

  • Another great idea that I’ve done a few times is creating memory animals with the dress. I’ve done this for several customers, creating bears and elephants. I’d show you some pictures if I could post them here. You can see them on my Instagram feed, but the wedding dress ones were a few years ago so you’d have to scroll back quite aways.

  • Angel gowns (I think that’s the name) takes gown donations and makes burial dresses for stillborn babies. Beautiful and so sad. I personally have never been comfortable with Trash the Dress. I find it wasteful and, quite frankly, cynical. The dress that was cherished one day gets trashed and destroyed for a photo opportunity. Please donate or recycle. It shows so much more respect for the dress and the occasion.

    • Thank you Diane. Angel Babies is a wonderful way to recycle an old wedding gown and still have a meaningful moment in a terrible time for some families. And I couldn’t applaud your sentiments more about trashing the dress. I really worry about the mindset behind this idea. Thank you for speaking up.

  • Another thought: have the dress taken apart and re-tailored by yourself (if you have that talent) or by a professional into items you – or your daughters – can use in your wardrobe. Depending on the style, formality, and fabric of the gown, a lace or beaded bodice can be repurposed into a camisole or shell to be worn under a jacket. A satin or lace jacket or overlay makes a lovely shrug for a dress. Shorten a full skirt to tea length, an aline or straight skirt to knee length. Crinolines can be removed and shortened to be worn as a skirt or to line other skirts. A long train can be recut into almost anything, including home decor items. Keep your wedding day memories with you whenever you or a loved one wears one of these old-into-new items!

  • These are fantastic ideas! Another thing I’ve seen is making doll clothes. Whether it’s Barbie clothes, Maplelea/American Girl dolls or teddy bear clothes (similar to Build-a-Bear). They can be given to grandchildren or other members of the family.

    I’ve also thought of making strips of material and keeping them for different parts of my girls weddings, if they want to use them. A garter (as mentioned) or bouquet wrap (also as mentioned), can also use it to make decorations for the head table. Lots of different ways to use it if you are willing to cut it.

  • Thank you so much for this article. I have pieces of my wedding dress after our home burned. These are some very good ideas to make something out of the few pieces I still have.

  • I have another suggestion that I have seen several places online….make a Christmas tree skirt! You could make one entirely from the gown or have sections of green, red velvet, etc.

  • Ha ha. I am finally getting a wedding dress at the age of 63. I am going to get a tea length as I am shrinking. Not very fancy so can be worn many time and only he and I will know. That way it will not hang in the closet forever.

  • I think there are some good ideas here, & in the comments below, but I think, in this age of recycle, reuse, reduce, trashing your dress is a terrible idea! Someone, somewhere, cannot afford a beautiful wedding dress, & even if it had to be altered to fit, they would be eternally grateful to feel like the Princess all women want to be on their wedding day.
    Please donate it, rather than trash it!

  • Those are some awesome ideas! Thought I would throw in one more “good” thing if I may. We have a couple of great groups of women who use donated wedding dresses to make tiny gowns and blankets for stillborn babies. I was the recipient of those twice when I lost babies at 25 weeks….the nurses would put the dress on the baby and take some pictures (only if you wanted them to) and then gave us the dress and blanket. It was very touching to know that people cared enough to stitch such tiny gowns for complete strangers! I hope it doesn’t seem overly sad, it’s definitely not meant to be. It was so appreciated during an unexpected time when we didn’t know what to do, and several years later, that’s where my early ’90’s poofy wedding dress went!

  • I donated mine to an organization that turns wedding dresses into gowns for stillborns and infants that pass away. One dress can make a few gowns. There are a few organizations (nonprofits) that do this. I have a couple friends that had stillborns and children that passed due to SIDS. I felt this was a way to help grieving families like my friends.

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