Many brides keep their wedding gown as a special memento, but the dress doesn’t have to end its life with that momentous occasion. Instead, it can go on to make a difference in another way—through a donation. Donating your wedding dress is a good idea for many reasons. It’s a great way to help people in need, it can give you a tax deduction, and it’s an environmentally-friendly alternative to reselling your gown. However, it’s important to choose the right charity or consignment shop before handing over your dress. If you’re planning to donate your gown, here are some tips to help you get started: 1. Clean Your Gown. Before you donate, take the time to have your dress professionally cleaned. This will ensure it is in the best possible condition for its new owner. In some cases, the organization may charge an additional fee for cleaning, so make sure you check with them in advance. 2. Familiarize Yourself with the Organization’s Donation Guidelines. Many organizations that accept wedding gown donations have their own unique requirements and specifications for the dresses they will accept. It is essential to understand what those requirements are before you decide to donate your dress. Some may not allow ripped or torn gowns, for instance. Also, some will require you to have the gown professionally cleaned before you mail it or drop it off. 3. Research Different Donation Opportunities. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the specific requirements of the organization to which you want to donate, it is time to start researching different options. There are a wide variety of charities and shops that will accept bridal gowns, and some have specific programs aimed at a particular audience, such as supporting brides in need or raising awareness for certain issues. 4. Make Sure the Organization is Reputable. Some of the most common places to donate your gown are local charities, thrift shops, and charitable organizations. These are all good choices because they generally have established reputations for being trustworthy and reliable. Before donating, it is important to do your homework and research the organization to make sure that it is a reputable one with an established mission and clear goals. 5. Consider Choosing an Unusual Option. There are a number of unusual options for those looking to donate their wedding dresses, such as repurposing it into a pillow or tree skirt. Additionally, there are some places that will dye your dress a different color and send it back to you as a keepsake. While this isn’t the most traditional or conventional way to pass along your dress, it can be a fun and meaningful way to give it a second life. A great option for those who live in the greater New York area is donating to an Angel Gown Organization. These are groups of seamstresses who will convert donated wedding dresses into burial gowns for families that have lost their baby during pregnancy or in the first year of life. You can learn more about these groups by visiting their websites.
Many women treasure their wedding dresses, passing them down to future generations. But a group of selfless brides from all over the country are donating theirs for a different purpose: making gowns that will comfort families who lose their babies before they leave the hospital. The nonprofit organization Angel Gowns turns old wedding gowns into burial garments for newborns who die in the NICU. Hundreds of volunteers across the country sew these garments for families who will never get to see their child’s first and last moments in this world. Each dress is repurposed into about 10 little outfits, and every stitch, every detail makes the gown unique. Several volunteers came to Your Orcutt Youth Organization hall on East Foster Road in Orcutt equipped with sewing machines, patterns and lace. Some travelled hours to take part in the group’s first Sewfest-Sewpalooza-Sewnanza, which was held Friday through Sunday. Judi Soholt, a retired labor and delivery nurse from the NICU at Riley Hospital in Golden Valley, began her journey with Angel Gowns a few years ago after seeing an article about the project on Facebook. The story struck a chord with her, especially because she lost a baby son at 18 weeks gestation while working as a labor and delivery nurse in Iowa. “I remember the grief and loss that parents experience,” she says. “I want to help prevent families from having to go through the lost and found tub at the hospital, or having to buy clothes for their baby.” Soholt now leads a team of 44 seamstresses who work on angel gowns in her home in Marysville. She says she gets a lot of support from her community, and she has even started an online fundraiser to raise money for a new machine to speed up the process. The fundraising goal is $20,000. Aside from the dresses, each outfit also comes with two tiny hats and a small pillow. Volunteers like Edith Breshears, who has been sewing angel gowns for the past nine months, spend a lot of time stitching words or phrases onto each dress — such as “heaven’s angel” and “our sweet angel.” Shirley Bryson, another seamstress, adds antique buttons from her collection. She recently sewed gold and silver bells on each piece, inspired by the ending of It’s A Wonderful Life, when Jimmy Stewart’s character rings the bell to help Clarence the angel receive his wings. The outfits are then donated to hospitals, bereavement groups and funeral homes. Each kit contains a special gown, blanket, two hats and memorial trinkets. The organization has already sent thousands of them to places in Western New York, and they are also used by a handful of hospitals in North Carolina. The NICU at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in Pomona is one of those locations, and the staff here is grateful for this beautiful gift. “We can’t thank these ladies enough,” NICU Maternal-Child Education Coordinator Deb Oldakowski says. “They have brought a smile to the faces of our tiniest patients and their families.” To learn more about the Angel Gowns program or how you can help, click here.
A child funeral is a special service for the memory of a baby, child, or young person who died before adulthood. It is a time to celebrate and remember the life of your loved one and to say goodbye in a way that feels right for your family. This is different from a traditional funeral service, which includes a visitation, wake, memorial service, or Mass. In a child funeral, you may choose to have an open casket or urn, music and poetry, or a short tribute. Some families also include a short committal or graveside service to complete the ritual. Children are usually able to handle a funeral at an appropriate age, though it is important to talk with them and decide together what they will do. A good rule of thumb is to consider how your child handles similar situations, like church or family gatherings. It is also important to help them understand the differences between a memorial service and a funeral, as well as the difference between an open or closed casket. If your child wants to view their sibling’s body, it is a personal decision and you should respect that choice. Explaining that their sibling’s body looks very different than when they were alive, and may be cool to the touch is helpful. You can also explain that touching their sibling’s hand or hair is okay. Some parents feel comfortable having their children view the casket as early as four years old, while others wait until they are older. Seeing the wide range of emotions from mourners can be challenging for children. They can be confused and upset by some of the actions, such as hugs or kisses from people who are crying. To help ease their concerns, you can prepare a list of activities to keep them busy, such as a coloring sheet or drawing, so they can stay quietly occupied during the service. You can also make sure they know they are allowed to leave if they become overwhelmed. You can also ask a close friend or family member to be your child’s support person during the service. They can help them if they get tired, overwhelmed, or upset during the service. They can also help remind your child that they are a loved one and they will always be remembered. Other ways to commemorate your child at the funeral or service are to have a “memorial tree” where guests can write messages and place them in a box, light a unity candle, use luminaries, or read letters and poems. You can also have a special “kids’ corner” at the funeral where your children, their siblings, or friends can play with toys and color. You can also ask members of the local high school band or choir to lend their musical talents for the service. You can even have your child escorted to the cemetery by fire trucks, police cars, a race car, or another vehicle of their choosing.
As you build your baby’s wardrobe, consider the following guidelines: Invest in soft fabrics that are easy to clean. Babies can go through several outfits in a day thanks to spit-ups and blowouts, so it’s best to select clothing that will be comfortable and easy to take off for diaper changes. Baby clothing with snaps or buttons at the crotch (such as bodysuits and long-sleeved onesies) are the easiest to pull on and off. Consider layering. Many babies can be cold, even in warm climates, so adding a light jacket or cardigan to their onesie and tee will keep them cozy without overheating. Signs that a child is too hot include flushed cheeks, fussiness or a sweaty back. Choose clothes that will be comfortable for both the parent and infant. Embroidered dresses and pleated pants may look cute, but they can be uncomfortable for an infant. Look for soft, stretchy fabrics like cotton and polyester, which are safe for the washing machine. Avoid clothes that have rough textures or buttons on the neck, wrists or hands, as these can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Look for shirts and tees that are made from organic cotton or another environmentally friendly material. When shopping for your baby, remember that size discrepancies are common between clothing brands. You might need to purchase a size that is larger than your baby’s actual size, as they will grow quickly. Rolling up sleeves and pants is okay if you end up with an item that’s too big, as they will fit better after a few washes. For daytime, you’ll want a few long-sleeved onesies to pair with leggings or pants and footie pajamas for lounging at home. For cold weather, you’ll also need a few snowsuits that can protect your baby from the elements. Parents will love the simple yet sophisticated styles of Kissy Kissy, a line created by mom Roxana Castillo. The brand’s collection includes a wide variety of shirts, dresses and long-sleeved rompers in a range of sizes and colors that will match your newborn or toddler’s style.
For many families, the clothes their loved one is dressed in for burial are as important as any other aspect of the funeral. Dressing a deceased person in their final outfit is a chance for family members to honor their wishes and say goodbye with dignity. Traditionally, a dress or suit has been the clothing of choice. In recent years, however, a number of people have begun to choose more casual outfits—often referred to as funeral robes—for their beloved ones who are being laid to rest. The outfits are often handmade by individuals and groups, with a variety of materials used and colors chosen to symbolize a particular personality, lifestyle, or even religion. In addition to the personal meaning that the clothing may hold, it’s important to consider religious guidelines and customs when choosing attire for a loved one. Many faith traditions have specific guidelines for the type of clothing that can be worn for a funeral and burial. For example, some religions prefer clothing with long sleeves or that is not revealing, while others have specific colors that carry spiritual significance. When deciding on an outfit, it’s also important to keep in mind that the deceased might have lost or gained weight over time and that rigor mortis can cause the body to stiffen up. For this reason, it is often better to supply a set of undergarments with the outfit, especially when the burial service will include a viewing. Some companies specialize in designing burial gowns for the modern era. For instance, the company Garments for the Grave combines couture and heirloom-sewing techniques to create one-of-a-kind garments. The company is also an advocate for green and natural burials, with its garments made from biodegradable fabrics. Other designers are using a similar approach to design a line of clothing for the deceased, such as Mark Mitchell who uses his background in theatrical costume to inspire him in creating garments that are both beautiful and functional. His collection includes a satin quilted bathrobe and a floral burial shroud, as well as a cravat and a smock with embroidered flowers that can be slipped over the top of a casket. For those who want to make their own funeral outfits, there are a number of organizations that offer donated material for making such clothing. One example is Real Imprints, which is a nonprofit that accepts wedding gowns and transforms them into burial gowns for infants who are stillborn or die in the NICU. The dresses are then given to parents who have lost a small babe. The other way to find burial attire for a loved one is to look into the closets of family members who have died. In some cases, the deceased might have left instructions in their will or spoken to a family member about what they would like to be buried in. In these instances, following the deceased’s desires makes the process easier. Other times, the deceased might have a favorite pair of pajamas or negligee that is being kept to be put on when they are finally laid to rest.
When you no longer have a use for your wedding dress, there are several ways to recycle it and give it new life. The options range from selling it at a bridal or used wedding gown sale to donating it to a charity. Donating your dress may also be a tax write-off, according to Zola. If you want to sell your wedding dress, try reaching out to local bridal or wedding expo organizers. They may be willing to hold a gown sale at the event and allow brides to buy your gown for a discounted rate. This will help them stay within their budget and give you the opportunity to connect with a wide audience of future brides. Another option is to donate your dress to a charity that supports women in need. Some of these organizations may accept wedding dresses, bridal shoes, and accessories. The organization you choose to donate to should be well-established and have a positive reputation in the community. Before you donate your wedding dress, make sure it’s in good condition. If you’ve been storing it for a long time, rats, insects, and mold can do significant damage to the garment. Also, stains or discoloration can ruin the look of your dress. To avoid this, have it dry cleaned before handing it over to the charity. Some charities have specific guidelines about the age of the dress they’ll accept. For example, Adorned in Grace will only accept gowns that were designed in the last five years. The organization uses the money from the sale to support its mission to fight human trafficking and work with churches in Washington and Oregon. Other charities accept donated wedding dresses for free to military brides and for other special occasions. For example, Wish Upon A Wedding helps cancer patients and others facing terminal illnesses create a memorable wedding day or vow renewal. Brides Across America provides free wedding dresses to US military brides. Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring offers reduced-price bridal gowns and accessories for low-income brides in the DC area. Many thrift stores, including Salvation Army and Goodwill, will accept wedding dresses and other attire. They may also sell them to raise money for their cause or to provide employment opportunities for at-risk youths. Some of these stores have online shopping available so you can shop from the comfort of your home. You can also donate your dress to a local hospice. For example, Willen Hospice supports 3,100 patients, family members, and bereaved people in and around Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, and Northamptonshire. The hospice relies on donations to support their work, and your dress will be used for a great purpose. Before you donate your wedding dress, think about how much time and energy you’re willing to spend listing your gown at different sites and interacting with potential buyers or waiting months for your gown to sell. If you’re unsure about how much you’re willing to put into it, it’s usually best to donate it to a charity instead.
A woman from Hot Springs Village turned the first floor of her home into a workshop where she crafts tiny angel gowns for babies who never leave the hospital after a premature birth. It’s a simple, yet profoundly important ministry. Her work is being recognized nationwide and has been shared on social media. Patty Hauer knows all too well the heartbreaking loss of a child. As a former paramedic and coroner investigator for Scott and Dakota counties, she saw many infant deaths and found that the babies were often wrapped in old, ratty blankets. It was an experience that stayed with her. Now, Hauer, who lives alone in her retirement home in Hot Springs Village, volunteers her time to help grieving families by making infant burial outfits for newborns that die during pregnancy or shortly after birth. She uses donated wedding dresses, formal gowns, and dress wear to make baby boy and girl funeral outfits. They are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, and funeral homes free of charge. Every wedding dress has a story, and so does every angel gown. Hundreds of brides around the world have taken their wedding dresses and put them to good use for infants who die in their mother’s arms, or after they are born. These little angel gowns help provide a moment of peace for parents who are struggling with their own grief after losing a child, and they serve as a reminder of the life that was lost. The NICU is a place of miracles and hope, but it can also be a very difficult place for families. Some babies are born with a condition that can’t be treated, and they don’t make it through the medical procedures in the NICU. For these families, the joy of welcoming their newborn is quickly followed by the pain of grief and loss. That’s why projects like Project NICU Helping Hands and Angel Gowns of South Bay are so important. Volunteers take worn and torn wedding dresses and transform them into bereavement gowns for babies who die in the NICU or before they leave. They are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes, and directly to families who have experienced the unimaginable loss of a child. The project has already touched the lives of countless families, and they will continue to do so for years to come. To learn more about the organization and how you can help, visit their website here. You can even follow the journey of your wedding dress to a developing country (Guatemala is currently where the dresses are going) and virtually meet the seamstress who made it all possible. It’s a truly unique way to make an impact. Thank you to our local community for their ongoing support of this wonderful organization!
From spit-ups to blowouts, babies need new clothes often, and the best ones are soft, comfortable and super cute. There are also some important things to consider when choosing baby clothing, such as whether it is organic or sustainable. You might also want to look for a brand that has a low fire hazard label. From newborn tees and rompers with snaps down the front to baby swimsuits and outerwear all-in-ones, there are a plethora of options for little ones that are both stylish and functional. One of our favorites is Birdie Bean, a Scandi-inspired company that offers both boys and girls clothing in modern designs that can easily be worn together or separately. Their designs are fun and bold but still classic, so they won’t go out of style too quickly. Another option is Little Me, which is mom-approved and has a great selection of newborn clothing including bodysuits that fit over lap shoulders for easy diaper changes, footie pajamas with quick snap fasteners from top to toe and sleeper gowns with peek-a-paw cuffs to help prevent self-scratching. Plus, all of their clothes are made with 100 percent cotton and are hypoallergenic. When it comes to sizing, we recommend going up a size when buying infant clothing. Babies grow so quickly that they may outgrow their clothes before you know it, and fabrics like cotton are prone to shrinking in the wash. Plus, you can always roll up sleeves and pants on outfits that are too big, which will fit perfectly after a few washes. Baby pants are a must-have for any newborn wardrobe, but finding the right pair can be tricky. Look for stretchy leggings that will be soft against a chubby bub’s skin, and try to avoid those with cinched ankles since they can restrict the legs and make it harder for baby to move and crawl around. Adding a fun print to your baby’s closet is an easy way to brighten up their day. Look for bright colors and adorable prints that are sure to bring a smile, such as this floral romper from House of Margaux or this unicorn-themed romper from Kyte. For long summer days at the beach or pool, you’ll need a one-piece suit that is breathable and protects baby from sun damage. This sunsuit from Sansi has a protective rashguard and is made with a blend of merino wool and nylon, which makes it super soft and stretchy. If you’re looking to impress a little one with their first outfit, designer brands such as Dior and Ralph Lauren offer baby apparel with a preppy aesthetic that will surely make them the center of attention. These styles are a great choice for special occasions or first photos with family and friends. If you’re not ready to splurge on baby clothing, consider getting some hand-me-downs from friends or family who have kids of similar age or size. You can also donate any outgrown baby clothes to local charities that accept them.
If you’re preparing a loved one for burial, you may not realize that the clothing you choose to dress them in can have an impact on their final journey. But with a little consideration of the deceased’s personal style, religious beliefs and other factors, you can help them make a graceful transition to their final rest. Burial garments are specialty textiles designed to cover the body of a person who has died. They are often intended to create a more uniform look when seen from the front and can cover a portion of the face, hands and feet. Often they are used in conjunction with embalming, which is done to preserve the body for viewing. Until recently, the majority of clothing used to dress the dead was mass-produced and made from cotton, wool or polyester, all of which are petroleum-based fabrics that take a long time to decompose. In an effort to provide an alternative, some funeral homes have started offering their own line of burial garments. One designer, Mark Mitchell of Seattle, Washington, draws on his background in theatrical costume to create one-of-a-kind custom burial ensembles from fine fabrics using couture and heirloom-sewing techniques. Other designers, such as Jae Rhim Lee of Boston, Massachusetts, and Pia Interlandi of Australia, merge art and science in their work. Lee’s sculptural work is both elegant and functional, while Interlandi’s Garments for the Grave collection of burial clothes uses water-soluble fibers and is designed with ease of dressing in mind. When considering a loved one for burial, many people find it comforting to remember the clothing they have worn throughout their lifetime. Choosing clothing that was a favorite or that represented the person’s personal style can be comforting for mourners, as it will allow them to feel close to the deceased. For many families, the choice of footwear is also important. Shoes can be uncomfortable for the deceased’s feet, especially if they are in a closed casket. For this reason, a lot of families choose to bury their loved ones in socks. In the case of stillborn or premature infants, standard baby clothing can be too large and is usually provided by the hospital where the child died. Non profit organizations such as The Littlest Angels Gowns or stores that specialize in preemie clothing offer custom gowns for these babies and their parents. Alternatively, some people choose to sew their own outfits for a loved one who has died. Allison Kennedy of California is the founder of a non profit called Kennedy’s Angel Gown Project, which makes and donates burial gowns for stillborn babies. The dresses are hand-sewn from donated wedding dresses, and she can make up to a dozen of them with just one donated gown. She says that one in 160 babies are stillborn, and she found the lack of clothing options for them heartbreaking. The couple launched the non profit to fill this need. They have since expanded their mission to include other areas affected by high rates of stillbirth, including hospitals in Oregon, Texas and Illinois.
If you don’t plan to wear your wedding dress again or want to declutter your closet, consider donating it instead of throwing it away. There are plenty of charities that accept used bridal gowns. Some will even take other items like flowers, veils and tiaras. A wedding gown is easy to damage if it’s not properly wrapped and stored, so it helps to have it professionally cleaned before you donate it. This step also makes the dress more appealing to potential buyers. Having the gown dry cleaned can save you money in the long run and will also make it easier to pack for shipment. Some organizations, such as Brides Across America, a year-round charity that gives wedding gowns to first responders and military brides, require that the dresses be less than four years old and in good condition. The organization offers year-round giveaway events in partnership with local salons throughout the country, and also accepts veils, tiaras and wedding accessories. You can also donate your gown to thrift stores like Goodwill, which sells donated dresses at budget-friendly prices. Proceeds from dress sales go to dozens of women-focused charities, including single mothers, victims of domestic violence and other social causes. Before donating your dress, contact the organization to ask what the specific requirements are and what happens once you drop it off. Depending on the organization, you may be asked to ship the dress or have it picked up by a volunteer. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of any correspondence, agreement or receipt for your own records. In addition to helping brides on a tight budget, donating your dress can help the environment. Clothes and other textiles that are thrown away create a lot of waste, contaminating the water supply and contributing to 10% of global carbon emissions. By donating your dress, you can help reduce these environmental concerns and do something that will make you feel great too! The Emma and Evan Foundation repurposes wedding dresses into infant burial gowns for families who have lost a child. They also provide bonnets and keepsake items for grieving parents. The foundation welcomes donations of all sizes and styles of wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ gowns and flower girl dresses, and also wedding accessories such as headpieces, veils and tiaras. The Wishing Well Foundation is another organization that welcomes wedding dress donations. This nonprofit helps terminally ill women and their families celebrate their last days together. The organization helps fund and organize a wedding or vow renewal ceremony, and also accepts cash donations to support other programs for those in need. The charity also accepts other types of wedding attire, such as bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos.