What To Do With Old Wedding Dresses. 15 Ways To Transform Your Timelss Treasure.

The other day, I was browsing the internet and found a local shop with old wedding dresses for rent. I was immediately intrigued… you can rent someone else’s wedding dress?

What a genius concept! This dress rental model trend isn’t new, but you don’t see it as often with wedding dresses. This new trend shows consumers embracing sustainable and ethical fashion and a more minimalist wardrobe.

If renting out your dress isn’t for you, you’re still in luck because there are so many other options for what to do with a wedding dress.

1. Preserve it

If the wedding dress holds sentimental value, you might want to preserve it for future generations, or perhaps you aren’t ready to part ways with it yet and want to hold on to it for a few more years. Regardless, preserving your wedding dress is your first step to success.

Tips to help your wedding dress last longer:

  • Make sure your dress is cleaned and fully dried out. Some dry cleaners will even offer wedding dress preservation services. Wedding Gown Preservation Co. or David's Bridal Wedding Gown Preservation are two great places to check out for this.
  • When folding your dress, place tissue paper or muslin layers between each section to avoid tearing.
  • Store it in a box or bag of acid-free materials to prevent discoloration or damage. I would avoid plastic bags since they can trap moisture.
  • Speaking of moisture, place your dress in a cool, dark area with a relative humidity of 50%. You can even throw some silica desiccant packets inside with your dress. This helps your dress from getting moldy!
Wedding dresses handing together in the wedding boutique. Pin

2. Sell it

If you don't plan on preserving the dress and it's still in good condition, you can try selling your wedding dress online or in person.

You can list it on online thrift shops like eBay or Poshmark (by the way, if you’re wondering what to do with your old clothes, this is it). I started using Poshmark to figure out what to do with my old jeans, but you can post a formal dress there too! Some sites specifically cater to old wedding dresses for sale. If that is more your vibe, you can use websites like Stillwhite, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com, Once Wed, Tradesy, and Nearly Newlywed.

However, if you want to sell your dress in person, another option is to consign it to a local bridal shop. This is the best option if you’re wondering what to do with vintage wedding dresses. This is because consignment shops will pay higher if your item is retro or vintage so that you will get more bang for your buck!

If you'd like to give your wedding dress to someone in need, you can donate it to a charity that accepts wedding dresses. Some organizations accept donated wedding dresses and use them to support various environmental and social causes. This is a great idea and a lovely way to support those who want to celebrate their special day but might not have the means to do so!

Here are a few organizations that you can consider donating your wedding dress to:

Angel Gowns

This nonprofit organization is a great example of companies that repurposes wedding dresses. They accept donated wedding dresses and transform them into burial gowns for babies who pass away before or shortly after birth – this process can take anywhere from 30 to 60 hours to complete.

They give dresses at no charge to hospitals, funeral homes, or families! If you are in Ontario (like me!), they have drop-off locations in GTA, York Region, Whitby, Cobourg, London, and Georgetown.

Brides Across America

This nonprofit organization provides free wedding dresses to military and first responder brides through their Operation Wedding Gown events. Please note that they do not accept gowns older than four years old (sorry, no vintage gowns)! However, Brides Across America does accept veils, tiaras, and accessories!


Many Goodwill stores accept wedding dresses as donations. One thing I like about Goodwill is that proceeds from the sale of donated items are used to fund job training and coaching opportunities to those in need in your community.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army thrift stores accept wedding dresses as donations and sell them to fund their charitable programs. In 2022, they helped 25 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through their programs! They also have locations throughout the United States, so you likely won’t have to travel too far to donate your dress to a Salvation Army store.

Some other notable mentions include…

Becca's Closet

This nonprofit organization with chapters throughout the US accepts donated prom and formal dresses and gives them to needy girls. They are looking specifically for donations of new and gently worn long and short formal dresses in all sizes, especially small sizes (0-4) and large sizes (16 and higher). While they do not accept wedding dresses, they are a great place to donate bridal parties and flower girl dresses.

Wish Upon a Wedding

This non-profit organization grants weddings and vow renewals to couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. According to their website, their goal is to “alleviate the financial burden and time commitment that planning a wedding entails, focusing instead on dealing with their treatments and spending time with their loved ones.” I think this is beautiful! They are making our honorable mentions because they only accept wedding dresses from industry professionals with extra products.

4. Repurpose it

A pillow made from an old wedding dress. Pin
Image: BerkshireCollections

If you're feeling creative, why not upcycle your wedding dress and turn it into something new?

  • Create a beautiful quilt or throw using pieces of your old wedding dress, incorporating lace, fabric, and other details. This could be a sentimental keepsake for your family or a thoughtful gift for your children or grandchildren.
  • Convert your wedding dress into a christening gown for your child, godchild, or family member. This is a meaningful way to give new life to your dress and create a family heirloom.
  • Turn your old wedding dress into stylish accessories like scarves, shawls, or bags. These unique pieces can be worn or gifted to loved ones.
  • Use pieces of the wedding dress to create elegant cushion covers, table runners, or even wall art. This way, you can enjoy the beauty of your dress every day in your home. Lots of shops on Etsy offer this service.
  • Many local boutiques or studios specialize in repurposing or upcycling wedding dresses. They can help you transform your gown into something new, such as a cocktail dress or a formal gown for special events.
  • With creativity, you can transform your wedding dress into a unique costume for Halloween, themed parties, or theatrical performances.
  • Donate your dress to a school where aspiring designers can practice their skills, learn about fabric manipulation, and potentially create something extraordinary from your gown.
  • Look for local, sustainable fashion shows or events where designers showcase upcycled or repurposed clothing.
  • Contact local artists or craftspeople interested in incorporating your wedding dress into their artwork, such as sculptures or mixed media pieces.

You can even repurpose your wedding shoes and accessories from your wedding. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by my readers what to do with old shoes or what to do with old socks! My answer is to repair your shoes when possible or get creative and transform them into something new.

Lastly, you can use the fabric from your old wedding dress to create sustainable home décor items like pillows or curtains (Craftsy or DIY Network and other crafting websites have ideas for these projects). You would be surprised to learn how to repurpose old décor and furniture around your home to make pieces that suit your new style (an eco sofa? Sign me up!).

5. Recycle it

Wedding dress recycling is another option if your dress is beyond repair. You can find local textile recycling centers using websites like Earth911 or Recycle Nation. Contact your local waste management company to see if they offer a service for recycling wedding gowns.

6. Give It To A Friend

If you're unsure about what to do with your wedding dress and don't feel particularly sentimental about keeping it, consider presenting it as a thoughtful "something old" gift for someone dear to you on their big day. This generous gesture will undoubtedly be appreciated, as it helps reduce their wedding costs. Wearing a gown that already holds sentimental significance makes it even more special as they create new memories.

7. Trash it

If your dress can't be salvaged or recycled, try cutting up the fabric and using it for cleaning rags or other household projects before it goes to the trash.

Why Recycle Your Old Wedding Dress?

Fast fashion has been rising recently as companies have found ways to produce clothing faster and cheaper.

Oftentimes, this includes using dyes and other chemicals that are harmful to environmental and human health rather than more sustainable fabrics like organic cotton. Companies also choose to produce clothing in countries with less strict labor laws. They can get away with not paying their employees a livable wage and/or discharging the by-products of garment production into the air or local waterways.

Speaking of waste, textile waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world! The Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans send about 16 million tonnes of textile waste to landfills annually. Only about 15% of textiles are properly recycled.

Even though wedding dresses are one of the few items that we will (hopefully) only wear once, I can assure you that the wedding dress we choose to buy and how we dispose of it after can still make a big impact. This is also why purchasing sustainable wedding dresses is so important when we can. 

But for those of us who have already purchased a wedding dress and aren’t in the market for a new one, you can still make a positive environmental and social impact with your old dress, even after your wedding has passed.

I want to note here that you can make more sustainable shopping choices as a wedding guest too! I have been getting into sustainable wedding guest dresses for the summertime. Dresses made from sustainable fabrics like modal, hemp, and cupro are also good. 

Final Thoughts

Wedding dresses are pretty bulky, making them an item that is hard to store and maintain. If your dress has some sentimental value and you want to pass it on to family (or maybe you aren’t ready to part with it yet), you can always use my tips and tricks to preserve it!

Do you have any other ideas on what to do with an old wedding dress? Share in the comments below! If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – Sharing is caring 🙂!


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2 thoughts shared

  1. ARE THERE VINTAGE women clothing shops looking for vintage wedding gowns in New England? Mine is 48yrs (1975) it has been preserved for this length of time-still looks as white as the day I wore it.