If you haven’t worn your wedding dress since your big day or you’ve realized that it’s too small to make a good reuse, consider donating it. Several local and national charities accept wedding dresses for use as part of charity events or to sell in their stores. Some charities also provide a tax deduction for the donation, which can offset the cost of a new wedding dress or even make it free. A common repurposing option is to create a unique throw blanket or a decorative pillow using pieces of the gown and its lace. You can find tutorials for this on sites like Craftsy or DIY Network. This is also a fun project to do with your kids or to give as a gift for a loved one. Some charities, such as Brides Against Breast Cancer, take donated wedding dresses and resell them to raise money for early breast cancer detection and other women’s causes. Other nonprofits, such as Brides for a Cause, are based in the United Kingdom and support brides who can’t afford to buy a dress for their special day by providing discounted dresses. Another way to repurpose your wedding dress is to donate it to an organization that transforms it into infant burial gowns, or Angel Gowns. These are provided to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes, or directly to grieving families. One such organization is Angel Gowns of the Capital Region, based about an hour north of Albany, NY. The pandemic has caused many people to experience financial hardship, including couples preparing to get married. Many bridal shops are accepting gowns to help brides who can’t afford to purchase a brand-new dress during this difficult time. This is a great way to show your support and help those in need. You can also give your dress to a thrift store or resell it online to raise money for charity. Just be sure to check with the charity or store to see what their specific requirements are and if they require a donation fee. Also, consider having the dress cleaned professionally before you donate it. This will ensure that the fabric is in good condition and doesn’t contain any stains or marks. Donate your wedding dress to a charitable organization and feel good about yourself at the same time. You’ll also make room in your closet and possibly get a tax deduction for the donation. A lot of clothing and textiles end up in landfills, where they release carbon dioxide and other toxins into the air. However, donating your wedding dress and other items that you no longer use can reduce the impact on the environment. According to GreenDrop, this is a simple way to make a difference in the world. Besides, a used wedding dress is much more eco-friendly than buying a new one!
If you’re a parent who has suffered pregnancy or infant loss, you know how devastating it can be. The pain is all-encompassing and sadly, there isn’t much that medical professionals can do to ease the pain. But, there are organizations that help parents by providing comfort and raising awareness. One of those organizations is called Angel Gowns, which repurposes donated wedding dresses and prom gowns into outfits for babies who do not make it home from the hospital. Angel gowns are a special garment that is worn by families as they say goodbye to their baby, or sometimes after a funeral. The gowns are designed to look like an actual baby and are meant to bring comfort to grieving parents who have to dress their child for the last time. The Angel Gown program at Levine Children’s Hospital is an important part of their care for families who suffer pregnancy and infant loss. “The idea that you can have something to hold onto and remember your little angel is so precious,” said Tom Williamson, who lost his son at 20 weeks gestation. Williamson said that he and his wife were grateful for the gown that Levine Children’s gave them for their son, Eli, to wear when they had to say their last farewells. The gowns are handmade by volunteers and sewn by people who have experienced loss. Many of them say that they do this because they want to help other families in their difficult time and it is also a way to honor their own losses. They are passionate about this work and often don’t even get recognition from the hospitals to which they provide the gowns. Almost every hospital now offers the service to families who have experienced a loss. However, the supply of angel gowns isn’t keeping up with the demand. “We always have more requests than we can make,” said Alisha Neal, who runs the nonprofit Angel Babies in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Her organization provides angel kits, which include a gown, blanket, keepsake and two hats to families who have lost an infant. Last year, it gave out 175 kits. Making these garments is not an easy task for everyone, Bauer says. Creating such tiny pieces of clothing can be too emotional for some and she has seen many volunteers drop out over time. She is trying to encourage more volunteers by creating kits for them, which contain fabric that has been pre-cut to the needed size. For those who do not have the resources to make their own angel gowns, there are a number of nationwide ministries that will accept wedding and prom dresses to be repurposed into sleeping angel outfits. The seamstresses who run these ministries have specific needs, but a standard wedding dress can yield eight to 16 gowns, according to Bauer. She is always in need of white and ivory thread, fabric ribbon, tiny buttons, Tide PODS, OxiClean laundry spray and Ziploc bags in one to two gallon sizes.
Having to make funeral arrangements for your child can be one of the most difficult things you will have to do. When deciding whether or not to involve your children in the ceremony, you must take into account their age and level of understanding. If they will be attending, you should discuss what to expect and how they can participate if they choose. If they are not, it is important that they understand that there are ways to say goodbye without having to be present at the funeral. If the funeral will be in a church, be sure to tell your children what they can expect. Explain that their friend or family member will be lying in a casket, or an urn if cremation is chosen. If the body will be open, describe what they may see and that it is okay to look. During the visitation period, you can ask your children what they would like to do with their loved one. For example, they might want to write a letter or draw a picture and put it in the casket. You can also encourage them to give out order of service sheets or sign a memory board. A funeral is a very emotional time, so it is best to have a back-up plan if your child becomes overwhelmed or uncomfortable. If they need to leave, have them walk to a lobby or other quiet area with a trusted adult who can sit with them and help them calm down. It’s also a good idea to bring along a bag of toys that they can play with while taking a break. Many children have fear and misconceptions about death. This can include a belief that they too will die or that they caused their loved one’s death. It is crucial that you reassure your child that they will not die and that the person who died did not do anything wrong. Children of all ages can find comfort in knowing that their loved ones will be remembered by people who will share stories and pictures. During the service, you can pass around an empty picture frame for guests to write messages in and allow children to share their thoughts as well. It is also a good idea to include special items from your child’s life such as their favorite toy, teddy bear or stuffed animal. You could even have a coffin that your child has made or a special piece of clothing they wore that you want to bury with them. You can also decorate with things that represent the child’s life such as a banner with their name or their favorite color flowers. Some families choose to transport their baby into the ceremony in a coffin with a favorite teddy or toy they had. This can be a very memorable and meaningful moment for all involved. It’s a good idea to speak with the funeral director about these choices.
Dressing up tiny human beings is probably the most adorable thing you can do as a parent. Their tiny fingers and toes, squishy cheeks, and soft skin are so cute, it’s hard not to want to buy a wardrobe full of adorable outfits. However, if you’re looking to stock up on clothes for your newborn, it’s best to focus on a few key pieces that will work well with most other items in the baby wardrobe. This will ensure that your little one is comfortable, dressed properly for their season and activity level, and looks adorable, but also not over-dressed. A good place to start is with a selection of bodysuits, which are basically t-shirts that extend down to the feet and fasten between the legs for changing the diaper. While some brands offer cute prints and details like ruffles and bows, this is where it’s a good idea to stick with basic, versatile clothing to ensure your baby gets the best fit and comfort. Another key item is a set of footed pajamas, which are perfect for sleeping in and are available for boys and girls. These are great for cold weather because they keep your baby toasty, and they’re super comfy to wear in bed. Many of these are made in a mix-and-match style that makes it easy to put together complete sets for your baby, or you can choose all-in-ones to make outfit shopping easier. For the daytime, it’s helpful to have a few pairs of leggings and pants. These are a more practical option than dresses because they can be paired with a shirt for warmer weather and have the added bonus of being more affordable than gowns, which will only be worn once or twice. You should also have a couple of light jackets for cold weather. It’s important to note that the American Association of Pediatrics recommends avoiding bulky winter coats, as they can interfere with car seat safety restraints. When it comes to bedding, consider investing in organic options, which are free from chemicals and will protect your baby’s delicate skin. These are usually made with cotton and other natural materials, and you can find them in a variety of different styles to suit your baby’s taste. As with any new baby clothing purchase, you should check the label and size guide on each piece to be sure you’re getting the right fit. It’s also a good idea to look for brands that prioritize sustainability and ethical production practices so you can feel confident that the clothes are good for both your baby and the people who make them. We love the designs and colors offered by Colored Organics, who use GOTS certified organic cotton with organic bamboo and viscose sourced from Beech trees for the softest possible fabrics. Their designs are beautiful and incredibly versatile, so you’ll be able to get plenty of use out of them. Plus, they’re also great for gifting to a friend who’s expecting or to a local children’s charity.
When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult for families to decide what clothes to dress the deceased in. This is especially true if the person lost or gained weight in their final months or years of life, or if rigor mortis has made their regular clothing too tight to fit. In these cases, burial gowns can be a good option. They’re usually crafted from natural materials and look like robes or dressing gowns, and are designed with slits and drawstrings across the back to help adjust the fit as needed. Many funeral homes offer them as a convenience to customers. There are also a number of artisans who make shrouds that can be used for green or natural burials, and they may be found through an online search. Some offer bespoke and custom work, often using heirloom and family textiles. Some of these garments are more specialized, such as those for infants who die at birth or shortly afterward. Beverly Duckett, an Oak Ridge resident who makes these garments for babies, describes her craft as a way to “be a helper in the midst of despair.” Some families choose to dress their deceased in the clothing they normally wear. For older people, this could include a nightgown or pajamas. It might be less formal attire, such as a suit or jacket, for younger people. For infants, some charities and businesses make handmade baby funeral clothes, as well as smocks for premature and stillborn babies. While the clothing selected will not decompose, it must be removed before the body is buried or cremated. This is because the clothing can interfere with the cooling process that takes place in a casket, or it can cause harm to the delicate body when being moved. It’s best to consult with the funeral home about what type of clothing is appropriate for a burial outfit. The deceased’s religion can also play a role in how they are dressed for burial. In Islam, the body is washed before being covered with a white sheet. After that, men are clothed in a cotton or linen tachrichim and women in a head covering. Jewish people may be buried in a traditional outfit called a shroud, which includes a shirt, pants, coat and belt, or they can be buried with their regular daily attire. The clothing chosen for a burial outfit should be clean and without stains. Some of it is likely to be covered with ashes after the service, so it should be washable. If a person’s body is to be buried in a natural or green cemetery, then the clothes must be biodegradable and free of plastic or metallic threads, buttons and zippers. These guidelines are usually imposed by the cemetery or burial grounds because of environmental concerns.
Many brides tuck their wedding gowns away after the big day. Some keep it as a sentimental keepsake or pass it down to their daughter. Others destroy it—and make a gorgeous fashion statement in the process—in the popular “destroy the dress” trend that is all the rage on social media. But what if you’re not quite ready to part ways with the dress that was the most special moment of your life? There are plenty of charities that will give your dress a second life, and the best part is, you can do it while clearing out some closet space. First, consider what kind of charity you want to support. Most dress-donating charities support a variety of causes, and each one has its own requirements and guidelines. Some accept dresses as donations while others resell them to raise money for a specific cause. Some organizations that resell wedding dresses use the proceeds to fund projects to empower and educate women, and end child marriage. This is an amazing way to give your old wedding gown a new purpose and a whole new life after you no longer need it. Another option is to donate your wedding dress to a local thrift store, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. These organizations can offer the dress free or at a reduced cost for low-income people in your area. Just be sure that the dress is in good condition before donating it, as the charity may need to have it dry cleaned or even trashed if it is too worn or ripped. Then there are organizations that specifically use wedding dress donations to help grieving families. For example, the Emma and Evan Foundation repurposes wedding dresses into infant burial gowns (also known as angel gowns), bonnets, and other keepsake items for parents who have lost an infant. You can donate your wedding gown to this organization by visiting its website for more information, including how to ship it. Lastly, some bridal boutiques use the proceeds from the sale of wedding dresses to donate to their favorite charities. For example, Fairytale Brides donates to Johns Hopkins Suburban Hospital Breast Center and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, while Cherie Sustainable Bridal supports the Success in Style nonprofit, which helps job seekers prepare for interviews and succeed on the job. Most of the places that resell wedding dresses will require your gown to be in wearable condition. It also needs to be no more than five years old. The charities will send you additional instructions only if the dress meets their criteria for donation. Make sure to label the box with helpful information about the dress, such as the size, designer or brand name, the year you bought it, and its original price. Doing so can save a lot of time for the charity volunteers. It can also prevent confusion when donating multiple dresses to the same organization.
Many families face the tragic loss of their infant due to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. These parents have to prepare for a funeral, make final arrangements and say goodbye to their baby before they even meet them. Having the right outfit for their child can help them feel like their baby is being honored in the last moments of life. That’s where angel gowns come in. They’re custom-made burial suits from wedding dresses, formal gowns and other dress wear that have been donated to comfort bereaved families. A local nonprofit, Angel Babies, has been supplying hospitals with the gowns since 2018. A package that includes a gown, blanket, keepsake and two hats can be sent to a family for free, if they request it. Alisha Neal, founder of the organization, says requests are on the rise. She explains that there are many reasons why a baby may be born too early, including a fetal abnormality or medical intervention to terminate the pregnancy. The volunteer seamstresses who work with these families have a passion for what they do. The group is a non-profit, and the women donate their time and supplies. A back closet in Egnatuk’s home is filled with gowns, and she constantly needs more material. She also keeps a plastic baby model by her sewing machine to remind herself why she and the other volunteers do what they do. Edith Hauer, a 66-year-old retiree from Indiana, was reading the newspaper in her living room in 2014 when she saw an article about an angel gown program at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis. A registered nurse named Judi Gibson was recruiting local seamstresses to create the special outfits for babies who died in the hospital’s NICU. But it was too much for one person to do alone. That’s when Edith stepped in. She had been sewing for years and knew she could help the Gibsons. She read the articles and contacted Judi. The pair worked together for more than three years. During that time, the pair grew their group to include more seamstresses from across the state and beyond. They now supply four local hospitals—Roper St. Francis, East Cooper, MUSC and Palmetto—as well as four in North Carolina (UNC, Duke, Brenner and Levine). They’ve also sent gowns to hospitals in Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky. The seamstresses personalize the outfits by adding touches like embroidered phrases, tiny teddy bears and antique buttons from their mothers’ collections. Shirley adds bells on each piece, a nod to the classic scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart’s character rings a bell after helping Clarence the angel. They send the outfits to hospitals, funeral homes and directly to grieving families. The Williamsons received a gown for their son when they lost him at 20 weeks. The couple is now paying it forward. “We feel it’s important to help those that need it,” she said. “That’s what we’re all about.” The outfits are given to families for free.
A child funeral is a way to say goodbye to a baby who died in utero, in childhood or as an infant. Unlike the funeral of an adult, which can be very public and may include guests who are mourning, a ceremony for a child is typically private and intimate. It is usually held in a church or chapel. It is often accompanied by a graveside service or memorial at home. The decision to have a child funeral is yours to make. The type of ceremony you have and who you invite are personal choices based on what feels right for your family. Whether you choose to have a traditional funeral or something more simple, it is important for children to be able to participate in the service. This may help them to process their grief. Many families choose to include a special teddy or blanket in the casket and also have family members carry the coffin into the ceremony. When children are able to see and interact with their deceased sibling’s body, they have an opportunity to connect with the person who was their whole world. This is often very healing. However, it is very difficult for some children and can be frightening or overwhelming. Parents need to decide in advance whether or not they will allow their children to view the body, and then prepare them for what that will look like. If your children are able to view their sibling’s body, it is important to discuss what the body will look like in advance and reiterate the message that it is ok to touch their sibling and that they will not feel cold or pain. It is also helpful to have a trusted friend or relative present to comfort them and take them away for breaks if needed. Even if your children do not view their sibling’s body, it may be comforting for them to know that they did not die alone and that their sibling is being well cared for by loving family and friends. It is important to remember that children have big imaginations and what they imagine their sibling’s body will look like at a funeral can be far different from the reality. Having an experienced caregiver or support person available to talk with them, encourage questions and reassure them throughout the experience can be helpful. If you have other living children, it is a good idea to invite them to the funeral or memorial service. It will provide them with an opportunity to connect with their dead sibling in a safe environment and to celebrate the life that they shared together. It will also give them a chance to talk about their feelings and learn how to express them in healthy ways. Some parents may decide not to have a funeral or ceremony for their child and instead hold a memorial service at home. This can be a beautiful and meaningful way to say goodbye.
New parents have an overwhelming desire to dress their newborns in cute outfits. But before you spend your hard-earned cash on a little pink sweater, take some time to consider the functionality of baby clothing. Babies grow fast, so it’s important to focus on staple pieces that will keep them comfortable and provide a lot of wear for your money. A onesie is the foundation of every baby’s wardrobe (although some people call them “bodysuits,” since Gerber trademarked the name). These tees are easy to get on and have snaps at the crotch, making diaper changes quick and easy. Look for onesies that have envelope-style necks, too. The flaps don’t just add a sweet touch; they serve a vital function: After a major diaper leak, they let you pull the bodysuit down over your baby’s torso and legs rather than pulling it up over their head, which makes cleaning and changing them much more efficient. Once your baby outgrows the onesies, you’ll need a few pairs of pants and leggings to cover their legs. Leggings are great because they’re stretchy and breathable, which keeps them cool during summer days in the sun and winter nights in cold climates. Look for organic cotton options to keep your baby’s skin happy. Pants are more difficult to get on and off, so make sure your baby is big enough to wear them before you invest in any. Your baby will probably wear a hat for the first few months or so. Choose a soft, lightweight one from a brand like Touched by Nature to keep their head cozy. And don’t forget a pair of socks for the feet, to prevent their tiny toes from getting cold. Some people might think it’s cute to dress up their babies in outfits that are gender-specific, but the American Association of Pediatricians advises against this. Not only can it lead to over-stimulation, but it’s also dangerous because the clothes can cause rashes and other skin irritations. Fortunately, there are many companies that offer stylish, gender-neutral styles that will be just as cute on boys and girls as they are on any other kid. For example, Monica and Andy offers a wide variety of mix-and-match pieces for newborns made with the softest GOTS-certified organic cotton. The mom-founded company also has a personalization service and carries all-in-one newborn outfits, as well. Finn and Emma is another brand that sells high-quality baby clothing made with ethically harvested, non-toxic materials. The site is a one-stop shop for pajamas, tops and rompers, as well as accessories including hats and diaper bags. Another great online resource is Spearmint Love, which carries brands such as Burt’s Bees Baby and Finn and Emma along with all-in-one sets. Regardless of the brand or style you choose, remember to always try things on in person and read size labels before you buy. Otherwise, that adorable sequin jacket will just sit in your baby’s closet or dresser drawer until they outgrow it!
A final viewing is an important time to remember your loved one, but it’s also a unique opportunity to present them in their best light. This includes how they’re dressed. Traditionally, deceased men are dressed in suits and women in funeral gowns, which often have high necklines and long sleeves. But these days, many people choose to dress their deceased loved ones in more casual outfits that reflect their personalities and interests. Some examples include casual t-shirts, sports jerseys, work or military uniforms, and wedding gowns. When deciding on clothing for your loved one, it is important to keep in mind their religion and method of death. Some religions have strict rules about what kind of attire is appropriate for their deceased. For instance, Orthodox Jews are buried in shrouds that cover the entire body. In addition, a woman’s dress should have three panels with a veil placed in the middle. Jehovah’s Witnesses usually opt for a semi-formal outfit, and men should wear a yarmulke on their head. If your loved one requested a cremation after a viewing or open-casket funeral, their outfit may need to be returned as part of the cremation process. That’s why it’s helpful to have friends or family members assist with the task of choosing burial clothes for your loved one. Many times, they’re happy to have a project they can do to help you during this difficult time. For stillborn and premature infants, clothing can be more of a challenge. There are several non-profit agencies and shops that create handmade baby burial outfits. These can be used for a home ceremony or in a casket. They can also be donated to hospitals for use in their NICUs. The style of clothing your loved one is dressed in will have a significant impact on how they are perceived during a viewing or funeral service. For example, if they passed away after a surgery or accident, the outfit you choose could highlight their scars. Clothing with a higher neckline or long sleeves can help hide scarring, and lace can also be a beautiful choice for a memorial gown. It’s also important to consider what type of shoes are worn with a burial outfit. During an open casket viewing, the feet will not be visible and shoes can make it more difficult to bend or sit down. That’s why some families decide to forgo wearing footwear altogether. For babies, however, shoes are sometimes necessary for comfort and safety. If you are unsure what kind of shoes to wear with a memorial outfit, check with the funeral director to learn more about your options.