Wedding dresses are one of the most cherished keepsakes a bride can own. But once the wedding is over, many gowns are left in closets untouched for decades, where they often collect dust and make room for other items we’ll never wear again. Instead of simply putting the dress in storage, consider giving it a second life by donating it to a charity that supports a cause close to your heart. In addition to helping another bride and freeing up valuable storage space, your dress can also benefit the environment. Rather than putting it in the landfill, where it’ll create hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide and other toxins, it can be reused as a dress for another bride or repurposed into a piece of art. According to wedding planning website Zola, there are plenty of charities that accept used bridal gowns as donations. Some of these organizations even use the proceeds from selling the dress to help fund their missions, which range from promoting environmental protection to aiding military brides and preventing sex trafficking. Other nonprofits use the money from the sale to make wedding dresses more affordable for other women who might otherwise not be able to afford one. The list of places to donate wedding dresses includes both bridal boutiques and nonprofit organizations, such as the Brides Project in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which sells donated gowns, with proceeds going toward supporting adults and children whose lives have been impacted by cancer. Other nonprofits, such as Adorned in Grace in Washington, DC, resell used gowns with the proceeds being earmarked for preventing sex trafficking and empowering sex trafficking victims. Some of these charitable organizations are not as well-known as others, but they all do meaningful work. For example, a New York-based group called Angel Gowns turns donated wedding dresses into infant burial gowns for families who lose their babies too soon. Before you decide to donate your dress, it’s a good idea to call or email the organization ahead of time to ensure they’re accepting gowns in your area and to learn their guidelines. For instance, some companies will only accept gowns that have been dry cleaned, while others require them to be in excellent condition. If you’re donating your gown to a nonprofit, make sure you get a tax deduction by having the company issue you a receipt. And remember, if you are storing the dress, have it professionally cleaned before packing it for shipping. This protects against stains from spills, bugs and other factors that may damage the fabric. It’s also a smart idea to store it in an acid-free box. This helps prevent yellowing and deterioration over the years.
In a world filled with inconceivable pain, a handful of selfless brides are handing down their dresses to serve a bigger purpose. They are turning them into “angel gowns” to give families of babies who die before leaving the hospital. Every year, more than 626,000 children in the United States are stillborn or lose their lives through miscarriage or other complications. And for parents of those tiny souls, there are no words to describe the unimaginable grief. Among the hardest hits are infants who are born too small or too soon and never make it home from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “They will never have birthdays, Christmases or any other special occasion to look forward to with their child,” says nurse Judi Gaber, who founded the nonprofit organization Sunshine State Angel Gowns in Florida. “So these gowns allow them to hold their child in love.” It wasn’t until a friend posted an article about the initiative on Facebook that Mangiaracina realized she could help. She immediately started gathering the donated dresses and turned them into the one-of-a-kind burial gowns that are sent to hospitals across the country. One dress can typically make about 30 angel gowns, she says, and a back closet in her home is overflowing. But she’s in constant need of more material, ribbons, thread, gallon zip-lock bags and a baby model to remind her why she sews. As she works, Mangiaracina remembers the heartbreaking stories of grieving mothers and their babies who never get to leave the hospital. “As a labor and delivery nurse, I have seen many families come to our unit in shock and devastation because their child didn’t survive the gestation period,” she says. “And to not have a gift for their little angel — it’s devastating.” And as a mother who lost her daughter at the age of 17, Mangiaracina understands how hard it can be. She says her mission is to “provide a little bit of comfort for these families, because it’s so sad.” “The NICU nurses are the ones who really feel the hurt when these families are going through this tragic time,” she says. “And it’s a way for us to offer them something that they can take with them and cherish and remember.” Mangiaracina’s efforts have spread to other parts of the country. She recently shipped a box of angel gowns to the hospital where she worked for 37 years, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. The hospital’s NICU Manager, Jennifer Wenzel and NICU Nurse Silvia Noriega are photographed below displaying the first package of gowns they received. The gowns are also delivered to hospitals in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, as well as other locations in California, Oregon, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, and Idaho. But she hopes to expand her reach even further, and she’s seeking out seamstresses who can help her. Click here to learn how you can donate a wedding dress or become an angel gown seamstress yourself.
Children who have lost a sibling often want to say goodbye in a way that is meaningful and appropriate. This may include a ceremony that is consistent with their culture, religion or tradition. This can also help bring a sense of finality to their death that is useful in the grieving process. If your child wants to attend the funeral, it’s important to listen and respect their choice. Forcing a child to go to a service can be extremely difficult for them, and you don’t want to assume that they wouldn’t like to say goodbye in their own way. If they decide to attend, it’s a good idea to break down what will happen at the funeral ahead of time. This can include singing, the sight of a casket or urn and religious rituals. Explain that the service can be very emotional for people, especially grown-ups, and that it is OK for them to cry. It’s also important to be prepared for the possibility that your child will want to view their dead sibling. Some children do this and can be very moved by it. It’s important to reassure them that their sibling is no longer in pain or cold and will be soft to the touch. It may help to have a photo of the deceased on hand so you can show them what their sibling looks like, particularly if they will be wearing an outfit they loved. Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to look after your child at the service. This can allow you to focus on what is happening and may also give your child someone to talk to if they need to. During the service, it can be helpful to allow your child to move around and take breaks if they need them. If they become restless or fidgety, it can be helpful to have a book or their favourite toy nearby to keep them occupied. If you are going to speak at the service, it’s a good idea to write down what you want to say and practice it ahead of time. This will allow you to focus on what is happening and not worry about your children watching or hearing. If you do start to become overwhelmed, a family member or close friend can take your child outside or into a hallway. Some children who don’t attend a funeral regret it later. If your child wants to say goodbye in their own way, consider having a memorial service at home or in a place of worship that feels meaningful to them. You can even light candles, with close adult supervision. Many funeral directors offer reduced costs or do not charge for services for children. You can also find out more about financial assistance on our help with funeral costs page. You can also use an online funeral planning service to create a funeral that feels right for your family.
Whether you’re stocking up on wardrobe staples for your newborn or shopping for an infant in the toddler years, it’s important to consider a few key factors. You’ll want to think about fabric, sizing and closures as you shop for clothing for baby. The best baby clothing brands will use a soft, stretchy and comfortable fabric that will withstand lots of wear and washing without pilling. You’ll also want to look for the label “organic” and certifications like GOTS or OEKO-TEX, which mean the clothes have been made with sustainable and safe fibers that don’t contain any harmful chemicals or pesticides. Closures like snaps, zippers and elastics should be easy to open and close when your baby is wiggling around. You’ll also want to find a style that won’t leave irritating tags against your little one’s skin and has safety tabs (small pieces of fabric that cover closures) that prevent accidental pulls or tugs on sensitive areas. Newborns and babies in the toddler years will need plenty of layers to keep them warm, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors or in cold temperatures. Opt for clothing that can be layered and pair pants with a long-sleeved top or sweater. You’ll also need to have at least a few outerwear options for colder weather, including a warm fleece or down coat with hood. Consider how much you want to spend on your baby’s clothing and how often you plan on doing laundry to help you decide on the number of outfits to buy. Generally, you should have at least three to five sets of onesies and leggings/pants, as well as footie pajamas and hats. Once you’ve decided on the basics, it’s fun to browse brands that offer cute and practical embellishments, like lace trim or embroidery, for special occasions. But for everyday attire, look for simple styles with few bells and whistles, since these will be more comfortable for your baby to wear. Mom-founded brand Kissy Kissy offers layette sets that are adored by parents and crafted from ultra-soft Peruvian Pima cotton. The collection includes neutral bodysuits with lap shoulders and footie pajamas with easy snap fasteners from head to toe for quick diaper changes. Plus, the company sets aside 10 percent of profits for human trafficking initiatives and donates mitts to preemie babies in the NICU. Other kid-approved picks include the reusable cloth wipes from Seventh Generation and Freshly Picked’s uberpopular moccasins, which feature two snaps to grow with your child and support their healthy feet.
When someone close to you passes away, the final outfit you choose for them is a very important one. There are a few things to keep in mind when making this choice, including the deceased’s final wishes and the method of burial or cremation. It is also a good idea to consult with your family members and a funeral director so that everyone is on the same page. Traditionally, a suit or gown is used for burial attire. However, there are many alternatives that you may want to consider depending on the wishes of your loved one and your own preferences. You should try to match their wardrobe as much as possible so that the clothes look natural and they are a clear reflection of who your loved one was. This will make them easy for mourners to remember them fondly. Burial garments are usually made of soft, satin-like materials and come in men’s and women’s versions. They resemble smart night gowns, pyjamas, or dressing gowns and are available in a wide range of appealing fabrics and colours. You can even find a few with religious symbols for those who want to be buried in accordance with their beliefs. If your loved one left behind instructions on what they wanted to be dressed in when they die, it makes the decision process a lot easier. You can also ask them what they prefer or if there is a special garment that is meaningful to them. This will ensure that their wishes are respected and that the outfit looks beautiful. You may be tempted to go shopping for a new dress, but it is also a good idea to have one made at home. This way, you can choose the exact colour and fabric that matches your loved one’s style and personality. In addition, the dress will be comfortable for them to wear. Moreover, you will save money because buying a ready-made gown can cost more than making it yourself. For those who are unsure about their sewing skills, there are some online resources that will help you with this project. Some sites will have free patterns to help you get started. You can also find a local sewing group that will provide you with the materials and instructions you need to create the perfect garment. Many charities have a need for gowns for babies who died before reaching full gestational age. Angel Wings Memory Gowns, for example, provides these outfits to hospitals in Knox and Blount counties. They have even created a website to receive gown donations. While a traditional suit or dress is the most common choice for burial clothing, you can make your loved one’s outfit more personal with a pair of shoes. Some families prefer to have their loved ones wear the shoes that they wore in life because it allows mourners to remember them walking, dancing, or running – all of their favorite activities. While wearing shoes is not mandatory, it is a great way to show respect and honour the deceased’s wishes.
Most little girls dream of growing up and having the perfect storybook wedding in a beautiful gown. Many brides keep their dresses as a special keepsake or pass them down to the next generation. Some even partake in the popular “trash the dress” tradition where they get dressed up and go swimming, play in the mud, or otherwise destroy their wedding dresses as a way to say goodbye to them forever. But while some brides choose to save their gowns, others are choosing to donate them. The reasons can range from a lack of storage space to the desire for a tax deduction or the opportunity to help someone else in need according to Martha Stewart. There are several ways that you can donate your old wedding dress, including donating it to a bridal boutique with a heart. These are typically nonprofits with a mission focused on a specific cause such as cancer research, environmental protection, or helping military brides or survivors of abuse. Many of these charities will resell your dress so that it can be worn by other brides, while the proceeds from the sale are used to further their mission. Another option is to sell your wedding dress at a consignment store. This is a good choice if you are not interested in the time and energy it takes to list the dress on different websites or if you are worried that you might end up with less than what you deserve from the sale of your dress. However, the commission fees for selling your dress can be higher than with a charity donation. Lastly, you can also donate your dress to a local thrift shop or repurpose it as something else. For example, if you have an artsy side, you could turn your dress into a unique pillow or Christmas tree skirt. Or, there are businesses that work with brides to frame their gowns in a way that can be displayed as a piece of art. When deciding where to donate your wedding dress, you should first familiarize yourself with the organization’s donation guidelines. This will ensure that your gown is in good condition and that the recipients align with your desired impact. Additionally, you should have your gown professionally cleaned before donating it. One of the most popular places to donate a wedding dress is to a bridal boutique with a heart. This is a nonprofit bridal shop that accepts donations of gently-used gowns to sell at reduced prices. The proceeds from the sales are then used to support various projects such as bringing awareness about human trafficking, supporting military brides, and assisting NICU families with newborns. If you are unsure of where to donate your dress, consider contacting your local shelters or churches. In addition, there are several online options for donating your gown. Some of these websites will also provide a list of local drop off locations. Before dropping off your dress, be sure to put it in a protective garment bag. This will prevent it from becoming wrinkled or ripped in transit and will protect the fabric from any mold or bacteria that may develop over time.
As the heartbreak of losing a baby lingers, a special garment known as an angel gown can offer a comforting touch. Angel Gowns are outfits made out of wedding dresses that are gifted to families who lose their babies. It is an endeavor that is undertaken with great love by volunteers who take the initiative to create the garments for parents who will never hold their child. The process of making the tiny gowns takes up to 20 hours, and many seamstresses are able to produce a dozen or more gowns in that time frame. Each outfit is adorned with delicate ribbons, lace and other sequins, beads and appliques to make it unique to each family who receives the gown. For the volunteers at Angel Gowns, it’s a labor of love that is a way of transforming a difficult situation into something more meaningful and beautiful. They hope that these gowns will bring a little bit of peace to grieving parents who will be unable to hold their precious child and will cherish the memory in the form of a cherished keepsake. When Terry Bauer retired from her home economics job in Pickerington Schools, she longed to find a way to continue sewing for a cause. Scrolling through Facebook one night, she found a woman who sewed “angel gowns,” gowns and bonnets for infants who are stillborn or die as newborns. Bauer began sewing for the organization in 2014, and she has likely made more than 1,000 gowns since then. She has been donating the outfits to organizations such as Columbus Christ Child Society, Touching Little Lives, NICU Helping Hands and Rest in His Arms. In addition, her Facebook page is filled with photos of thank you notes from the families who have received the dresses. But she knows not everyone has the means to sew. To make the gowns more accessible to those who can’t afford the expense of a new sewing machine, Bauer has created kits that include fabric pre-cut to the exact size needed for each gown. The kits were so popular, she has started a separate nonprofit, Andrew’s Angel Gowns, named for the son she and her husband lost at 18 weeks gestation. The organization has a waiting list for wedding dresses, but it is more in need of other supplies like fabric ribbon, Tide PODS, OxiClean laundry spray and Ziploc bags in one- to two-gallon sizes. PVHMC’s NICU staff was touched by the story of Hillary’s Cherished Gowns and the generosity and compassion of the volunteer seamstresses who helped them provide gowns for our tiniest patients. We are grateful for the thoughtfulness of these volunteers and the support they have provided for our hospital’s bereavement program. 626,000 babies in the United States are born through stillbirth or miscarriage each year, and that’s almost one baby every minute. Whether the cause is birth defects, premature delivery or complications during pregnancy, it’s a loss that will never leave a parent’s heart.
When planning for a child funeral, parents should carefully consider what their children will need to cope with the event. A good place to start is by explaining the logistics of the services, including what they can expect to happen before, during and after. This will help them decide whether they wish to attend or not. If the decision is to attend, be prepared for your children to feel frightened by what they see and hear at the funeral. Remember that what children imagine is often far scarier than the actual experience. Make sure they are offered clear and honest information, encourage questions, and repeatedly reassure them that their sibling can no longer feel cold or pain and is not scared. Also, make sure they are told that touching their sibling is ok, though the choice will always be theirs to make (and not forced). Where Will the Funeral Events Take Place? Some families choose to hold a memorial service at the funeral home, but other locations can be meaningful for a child. For example, a backyard barbecue or your child’s favorite park, playground, restaurant or other special location can be a wonderful way to celebrate their life. You could also have a celebration at your home with food and music, and invite friends and family to sign a message board or matted picture frame. If your child chooses to view their sibling’s body at a visitation or ceremony, it is important to explain what they will be seeing. If they will be viewing a closed casket, you can help them understand that their sibling is laying inside fully dressed and with their arms folded and eyes closed. If they will be cremated, you can explain that their sibling’s ashes are kept in an urn on a memorial table or displayed somewhere else in the room, and that people might also display pictures, flowers, letters, or other items that were special to them. During the service, you should let your child know that it’s okay to cry, but that it’s equally important to laugh and smile. This can help them express their feelings and will help them better understand that others will be doing the same. If your child becomes overly emotional during the service, consider having them leave for a while (with close adult supervision). When your child is ready to return to the ceremony, it’s important to remind them of proper funeral etiquette. Explain that other guests will be mourning and may not appreciate loud talking, whining or laughter. This will help them feel more confident about returning and allow them to focus on the memories they will be making. It’s not uncommon for children to regret not attending a funeral later in life. If your child does, talk to them about the reasons why they may regret it and how you can help them cope with this feeling. This is a very difficult conversation to have, but one that is worth having.
A newborn needs clothes, especially if you’re planning on going out and about. Stock up on onesies, rompers and sleepers (also known as footie pajamas), which will keep baby comfortable in warm or cold weather. You’ll also want to have dresses, shirts and pants for daytime wear. If you live in a cold climate, consider adding a parka, which is an extra-warm jacket with a hood to protect against rain and wind. Look for soft fabrics that will feel good against baby’s skin, and pay attention to the fiber content of clothing labels — cotton is a classic material. You’ll also find baby clothing made with knit fabrics, which are particularly comfortable because of their stretchy, extra-stretchy nature. You should be able to find these items at most big-box stores. Choose easy-to-change clothes to make diaper changes easier and less stressful. You’ll also want clothes with buttons that are small and won’t easily scratch a baby. Onesie, bubble or romper pants and shirts are good choices, as they snap open at the crotch for easy dressing and undressing. Body suits with either long or short sleeves are good for summer and winter. Newborns can get very chilly, so having plenty of socks is important for them to wear with their PJ’s. Socks will help prevent rashes and irritation caused by friction against baby’s feet. Babies lose heat through their heads, so it’s essential to have a variety of hats. Soft skull caps, or actual hats for warmer weather, are ideal to help keep their heads toasty. Similarly, thin mittens keep hands warm and protect them from itching. For cold weather, a few pairs of romper pants and shirts will be useful. They can be worn under a snowsuit, or with a parka if you’re heading outside in extremely cold temperatures. Baby’s feet are often very sensitive, so having a few pair of booties to slip on over the bottoms of their PJ’s will be helpful in keeping them warm. Lastly, add a soft sweater or cardigan to wear over a onesie and tee for an extra layer. You can also add leg warmers to the mix, which you can slide over their PJ’s or pants. But be careful not to overbundle your baby, as they can quickly become hot and fussy if they are too warm. Signs that they are too warm include flushed cheeks, sweaty backs or fussiness. You’ll also need a few pairs of soft shoes to slip on over their footie pajamas for walking around the house or playing in the yard. For outdoor play, a pair of sturdy rubber boots is also great for protecting their feet from puddles or mud.
In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, families may struggle with the choice of their final outfit. Clothing plays a significant role in the way people are remembered and how they are depicted. For some families, dressing a deceased loved one in clothes that capture their style and personality is important to them. Fortunately, there are many options for what kind of clothing to dress your loved one in, including burial gowns. A burial gown is a special garment that helps preserve and protect the body as it is laid to rest. It is designed to be easy for a funeral director to dress the deceased with dignity, and it is often made of soft, satin-like materials that can be easily adjusted. Burial gowns are available in a variety of styles and colors, and they can also be embellished with religious or cultural motifs. For example, some are shaped to look like smart night gowns or pyjamas, while others feature a design that resembles the Sacred Heart for Catholic funerals. Other kinds of funeral clothing include a casket dress or a shroud, which is traditionally used by certain Christian sects. These are typically made of white cotton or linen and can be embroidered or adorned with crosses. They are also usually suitable for green funerals and natural burial grounds, since they are biodegradable. If you are unsure what kind of clothing to choose for your loved one, ask their family members about what they liked to wear and if there is anything that stands out. You can also consult with a funeral director to make sure that the clothing you choose will be appropriate for their religion and final disposition method. Many families choose to dress their deceased loved ones in a suit or dress that they would have worn in life. For women, this means choosing a gown or a suit with a feminine neckline and long sleeves. Men, meanwhile, should consider a fitted suit or a business-style suit in a somber color. If you want to honor your loved one’s hobbies, you can also accessorize their outfit with pieces of jewelry that were sentimental to them in life. Choosing the right shoes to accompany your deceased relative is an important decision, and some people find that wearing their favorite pair is comforting. The type of footwear should be chosen carefully, as they will be worn throughout the entire funeral and any visitation services. If the deceased was diabetic or suffered from another condition that caused them to lose a lot of weight, it is a good idea to buy a pair of burial shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Many charities and nonprofit organizations have created burial clothing for infants, particularly micro-premature babies that are born before reaching full gestational age. Some have crocheted or knitted white dresses that resemble Baptismal and Christening attire. Some of these gowns can be embroidered or laced and may have flower or butterfly motifs. There are also a number of sewing patterns that can be found online for crafting these delicate gowns.