Weeks after my wedding, I picked up my gown from the cleaners and hung it in the closet of the new apartment I shared with my husband.
The gorgeous confection of tulle and satin with beautiful beading brought back happy memories from our wedding and looked pretty hanging in my new home.
But over time, as we started unpacking our things and making a life together, I began to glare at the dress.
All of that tulle meant it took up more than half of my closet. I really didn’t know what to do with it.
Besides my car, the gown was the most expensive thing I’d ever owned. But now that the ceremony was over, it had served its purpose.
My husband and I aren’t going to have children, so I had no fantasies of handing it down. Having it preserved in a box to sit in my closet for years didn’t seem worth it, either — especially when we were trying to make the most of every square foot in the apartment.
Like many newlyweds, for us, money was tight. We made the best of garage sales and thrift shops, but more money would give us a cushion.
Why I Decided to Sell My Wedding Dress
After a few weeks of thinking about what to do with my dress, I had what seemed like an insane idea.
I would sell it.
It was a beautiful garment I loved, but I reminded myself it had been an obstacle in my closet and the money would help us build our life together.
I didn’t know what selling it would entail. No one I knew had ever sold their dress. When I asked friends if they thought about selling theirs, they looked at me like I’d grown a second head.
Turning to the Internet to see if it was a viable option, I found out bridal gown resale is a big business.
I discovered Tradesy, a site where I could list the dress’ make and number and people looking for that exact gown could purchase it.
Other versions of my dress — Alfred Angelo 1136, originally $1,000 — were selling for between $400 and $600, depending on their condition, size and whether or not they’d been altered.
I’m short, so my dress had been heavily hemmed and I had added straps and a bustle. I listed it on the lower side at $450.
Within two weeks, someone bought and paid for my dress.
I was shocked it sold so quickly, but I packed it up and stashed the money, happy to bulk up our emergency fund.
I did feel a little sad when I was packing it up, but after I sent it off I honestly never thought about it again. I prefered having the money in hand so we could start building our new life.
What to Do With the Dress After Your Wedding
Many women struggle with what to do with their wedding gowns.
The average dress costs more than $1,300 in the U.S., a significant amount of money to spend on something you’ll only wear once.
If you don’t know what to do with yours, consider these options:
While preserving the dress wasn’t for me, many brides opt for this traditional approach.
Depending on the dress and your chosen method of preservation, the cost can range anywhere from $200 to $800.
Some brides open the box on a milestone date, such as their 10th, 15th or 25th anniversary.
Pass It Down
If you intend to have children — or have siblings with children — you can hold onto the dress and pass it on when the kids are ready to get married.
While your daughter or niece may not want to wear the dress as-is, she can alter it or use a piece of it to make her veil. It can be a nice way to add the “something old” to the wedding.
Some brides remove the bodice of the dress and frame it in a shadow box with other mementos from the wedding, like your invitation or place cards.
You can have it done professionally, but it’s also an easy DIY project. When I looked up the materials needed to follow this tutorial, the total cost was less than $100.
Dresses on eBay usually sell for lower prices, but Tradesy specializes in higher-end items, so you’ll get more money. It’s free to list, but they do take a 9% commission, so I pocketed about $410.
You can also look for bridal consignment shops in your area. They’ll handle selling the dress and you’ll get a portion of the purchase price.
Depending on the make of the dress, you can sell it for anywhere from 30-70% of its original cost. At the same time, you’ll be helping another bride get her dream dress.
Many charities accept wedding dresses, and they’re tax-deductible donations.
Here are four great options to consider supporting:
- Adorned in Grace: Sells dresses to raise money to support victims of human trafficking
- Make a Wish: Provides gowns to terminally ill brides who want to get married
- Everyone’s Dream Come True: Gives dresses to brides in need so they can have a beautiful gown for their wedding
- Angel Gowns: Creates bereavement gowns for babies that don’t get to come home from the hospital
If the idea of wearing it just once makes you sad, you could consider a “trash the dress” photo shoot.
Many brides wear their dresses to have pictures taken at the beach or in the countryside. The dress will likely be ruined, but you’ll have beautiful and special photos to remember it by.
What Will You Do With Your Wedding Dress?
There’s no right or wrong way to handle your dress after the big day. It’s an intensely personal decision.
For me, selling it made sense because I wanted to put us on the best financial footing possible more than I wanted to hold onto my dress.
What you do with your wedding dress is entirely up to you.
Your Turn: What did you or are you planning to do with your wedding gown?
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer located in Orlando specializing in personal finance.