It’s your big day. You’ve planned everything to the last detail but most importantly, what you’re wearing. The dress shopping is endless. Ball gown or fishtail? Long sleeves or strapless? So many possibilities. But once the big day is done, you’ve worn your dress and looked great in it, what do you do with it? With the costs of a wedding running so high, many women may decide to keep their dress due to its price. But some may decide otherwise.
According to Belle Bridal UK, the average cost of a wedding dress in the UK last year was £1385, depending on different factors such as the material, intricacies and alterations.
There are many options for what to do with your big white gown once the day is done, but what’s the best choice?
Donation to charities:
Charities such as Cherished Gowns UK take old wedding dresses and make them into beautiful gowns for babies that have sadly passed away. This charity began in 2014 when their founder created a gown for a bereaved mother from her wedding dress. Since then, they’ve received over 20,000 wedding dresses which have been made into over a quarter of a million cherished gowns, provided free of charge to hospitals around the UK.
Heidi Bailey sent her dress off to be donated to Cherished Gowns UK in 2017.
“My marriage had fallen apart and I knew it was going to end. By this point, my dress has been hanging in my wardrobe for 29 years. I lost a pregnancy late on and thought this option was a nice ending for it. I kept the sleeves though, to make a garter for my daughter’s wedding.”
Handing down dresses to future generations:
The age-old tradition of handing down your wedding gown to a loved one is one that started many centuries ago. Many brides either reinvent the dress as their own or keep it as it was. More and more people are choosing to have a vintage wedding dress, or have one handed down to them, as a sort of family heirloom.
On the Facebook page “Plastic Free Lincoln” commenters explained that their wedding dresses have been given to them by their grandmothers and were planning on doing the same for their children.
Georgina Richardson said: “I really wanted to have my mum’s dress- I’d been allowed to try it on as a child. But when it came to my wedding, it was too tight and too awkward to alter. However, we took the bustle off of my mum’s dress and added it to a remade version of the original. My aunt was a dressmaker so she used the old one to create a pattern. I still have my dress, it’s been used as an aid for a friend looking at styles, and I know my daughters would both like it- though perhaps more to morph into a steampunk outfit!”
Lincoln’s Steampunk heritage is particularly prevalent when upcycling dresses. Leanne Holden, a Steampunk enthusiast, turned her dress into many different costumes to celebrate Steampunk culture. She took her bodice and sewed it to various inter-changeable skirts to match the rest of her outfits. She has since worn it for Lincoln’s famous Steampunk Festival, showcasing her sewing abilities.
Making it yourself and the freedom to choose what to do with it afterwards:
If you have the means and skills to create your own wedding dress, it may cost a lot less than buying a new one, and you may feel more accomplished if you make it yourself.
Jen, who came from a family of crafters, decided to make her own dress for her wedding in 2011.
“It was a labour of love and brings back many memories. I made it in two and a half months between childcare, working full time, learning to drive and studying at college. I also made my bridesmaids dress, my own cake and all the cards. It was a busy couple of months!”
Jen spent around £80 on the pattern and materials for her dress, resulting in a medieval style princess gown.
“It’s still hung up in my wardrobe so I can reminisce. But I kept the offcuts of fabric and those became my eldest daughter’s naming day dress.”
In terms of sustainability and wedding dresses, the choice is really up to you. Whether you donate it to charity, or hand it down to a loved one, you know that the dress gets a whole new lease of life.