6 Things to Do with Your Wedding Dress after Divorce

After your divorce, you’ll be starting over. While this can be a freeing time of self-discovery, you’ll also be left with many emotions about – and symbolic objects of – your marriage. Photographs. Personal mementos like your engagement ring. Gifts your spouse gave you. And, if you wore one, your wedding dress. 

Perhaps no other item from your wedding will conjure up more conflicting emotions than your wedding dress. Is there a way to deal with the dress after your divorce that won’t create a new cascade of sadness or loss?

Your feelings about your wedding dress

A wedding dress is the epitome of a marital keepsake. It can hold great sentimental value while also reminding you of past marital hurts – all in one tulle-wrapped package.

Whether you're inclined to cry into its white froth or use it for kindling, there are some practical ways you can discard, donate, or repurpose your wedding dress – and maybe even help someone else in the process.

Options for your wedding dress after divorce

1. Revisit it later

If your divorce is still an open wound, the mere sight of the dress could melt you into a pool of your own tears or fire up your anger. If so, you definitely don’t have to deal with it right now. 

In fact, it may be better to set it aside until later, after the overwhelming emotions fade. 

Have it cleaned and carefully stored. If you have a family member who might appreciate it someday, consider holding onto it for that purpose alone. Regardless, it’s okay to revisit the dress later, when you no longer have an intense emotional reaction to it.

2. Make a difference

There are many charities you could donate your dress to that make a difference in others’ lives. Donating your dress not only gives it a new life, but also gives it a larger meaning. 

You might consider donating your dress to one of the following:

  • Brides Across America: Since 2008, Brides Across America has supplied wedding gowns to military brides and first responder brides through bi-annual Operation Wedding Gown events. 
  • NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown program: Transforming wedding and bridesmaid dresses into burial garments for families who have lost a baby, the Helping Hands Angel Gown program has operated since 2013. 
  • Brides for a Cause: Brides for a Cause operates showrooms in Washington and the Sacramento area that resell wedding dresses to benefit local and national women-centered charities. 
  • Adorned in Grace: Adorned in Grace maintains shops in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona where women can shop for new and donated wedding dresses and other formal attire. Proceeds from these sales support efforts to raise awareness and prevent sex trafficking. 
  • Cherie Sustainable Bridal: The sale of donated wedding dresses at Cherie Sustainable Bridal in Maryland further supports the Success in Style nonprofit, offering job search skills and professional clothing to clients in crisis. 

3. Donate it

Many other charitable organizations accept wedding dress donations, such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. Many couples struggle with the expense of a wedding, and donating your dress allows another bride the chance to feel beautiful on that special day without the expense of a new wedding dress.

4. Sell or consign it

If you want to recoup some of the money you spent on your dress, you can sell it through an online marketplace or consignment shop and get a portion of the money you spent back. Most bridal resale sites ask for a listing fee and then take a portion of the sale in commission. Some of these include:

The amount of money you get for selling or consigning has a lot to do with the age, condition, original cost, and brand name of the dress. 

5. Repurpose it

Your wedding dress can offer many creative possibilities if you’re crafty. The fabric may be perfect for things like kids’ costumes, doll clothes, or a baby’s christening gown. You could dye and alter it into another usable piece of clothing, or you could use it to make a piece of jewelry or cover a handmade photo album for a friend or family member. 

6. Have a divorce #trashthedress photoshoot

“Trash the dress” photoshoots began as a fun post-wedding trend where the bride wore her wedding dress in anything-but-boring wedding photos, often “trashing” the dress – or at least getting it very dirty – in the process. Now, the divorce photo shoot version of #trashthedress has taken off, sparking its own celebration of post-divorce freedom. Your wedding dress could play its own unique role in marking the beginning of your independence. 

Read: How to Celebrate Your Divorce with a Divorce Party

As with the stuff of life, the stuff of marriage will hold an emotional charge for a while. In the meantime, that stuff can also take on new meaning, whether as a wedding dress for someone else, a repurposed item, or a symbolic gesture of your post-divorce freedom. 

At Hello Divorce, we know that divorce is more than just a legal transaction. And that’s why we offer many divorce-related services and a library of resources to support you through all phases of it. Schedule a free call to see how else we might be able to help you navigate your divorce. 

Suggested: What to Do with Your Wedding Ring after Divorce

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.