Many brides dream of having the perfect storybook wedding. Whether it was held in their parents’ backyard or their local church, they want their special day to be exactly as they envisioned it, including a beautiful dress that matches their dreams. If you don’t plan on wearing your dress again, there are many charities that would be happy to take it off of your hands. Donating your dress is a great way to help someone else and clear out space in your closet. According to Martha Stewart, the average wedding dress is worn only once. Some brides may choose to keep their dresses wrapped at home indefinitely, but a growing number of people are opting to donate their gowns. There are a variety of reasons for this, from the desire for a tax deduction to wanting to give their gowns new life. Regardless of the reason, most charities accept donated wedding gowns and they are happy to give them another chance to be a part of a bride’s big day. The key to donating your gown is to do some research before you make the decision to give it away. You can find a list of charities that accept wedding dresses on the website for the National Bridal Association, which also has tips on how to prepare your dress for donation. One of the most popular dress donations is to a charity called Operation Wedding Gown, which outfits military and first responder brides. This charity has passed on over 28,000 wedding gowns since it started in 2008. Stulgis says that if you’re considering donating your dress, be sure to clean it in advance. This will allow you to avoid stains or mold, which could be difficult for some charities to deal with during the pandemic. You can also donate your dress to a local thrift store, which will use the proceeds from its sale to support various causes, like job programs, housing, and veterans. However, it’s important to do some research before you decide where to drop off your dress, as not all thrift stores accept wedding dresses and they have specific guidelines on what they do and don’t take. Other charitable organizations that accept wedding dresses include Brides Across America, Wish Upon A Wedding, and Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring. Those organizations provide bridal gowns at reduced prices to cash-strapped brides and couples with terminal illnesses. You can also turn your dress into something else entirely, like a flower girl dress for your next child’s wedding or an heirloom piece for your family. There are even businesses that will frame your wedding dress for you so you can have a permanent reminder of the special day.
For families who have suffered the unimaginable loss of a child before, during or shortly after birth, tiny handmade gowns called angel gowns offer dignity and beauty. They are worn by a newborn in his or her last moments and used for photos, memorial services or when family and friends come to say goodbye. Whether it’s from an accident or natural causes, the death of a baby is a heartbreaking event for all involved. For many families, the loss of a baby is even harder to cope with because there’s no way to fix what happened or make it right. For decades, labor and delivery nurse Tess Soholt has tried to help these families in need by providing them with something beautiful. But last year, the tragedy struck close to home when her son and daughter-in-law lost their infant at just 18 weeks gestation. That’s when she began to rethink her retirement and started Andrew’s Angel Gowns, named after the little boy who never got to meet them. Soholt now aims to provide hundreds of these special gowns every year to grieving parents across the country. Each dress starts out as a wedding dress, which she and dozens of volunteers turn into something more meaningful. The gowns are then donated to hospitals and bereavement groups that give them to families whose babies have died before, during or shortly after birth. Each kit includes a beautiful white silk angel gown, a pink or blue blanket, two soft hats and a memorial trinket. It’s a small but profoundly meaningful initiative that can change a difficult time for a family. Gayle Fleury runs a similar program in San Pedro, California. Her team of seamstresses sews colorful gowns for hospice patients and their children. They also stitch face coverings, such as bonnets and hats, for babies in intensive care units at Providence Trinity Care Hospice. She and her volunteers also sewed about 6,500 face coverings for patients during the pandemic. Fleury says she’s amazed by the generosity of the community. “People will just come in and tell us they want to donate a gown or a kit, or they want to get involved,” she says. “It’s just a whole lot of love and caring for these families.” NICU Helping Hands, founded by pediatrician Kelsey Chesney, has already turned 40 dresses into angel gowns for bereaved families. It’s a small part of the work the group does, which is to bring comfort and support to families who are going through the most terrible kind of pain. Each gown costs $30 to make, and each wedding dress yields about 12 to 20 of them. Some of the dresses are donated by older women who had a baby stillborn years ago, and others come from thrift stores or the attics of people who have passed away. Some of the seamstresses will stitch phrases like “heaven’s angel” and other personal messages into the garments, and one seamstress has been sewing bells onto each dress lately. It’s a nod to the ending of the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, in which Jimmy Stewart’s character, Clarence, rings a bell to receive his wings.
Children who have experienced the death of a sibling can be deeply affected. They often feel responsible for the death and have a difficult time accepting it. Having to make funeral arrangements and attending the services can be especially distressing for these children and their parents. It is important to prepare and explain as much as possible what will take place at the visitation, funeral and burial service. It also helps to allow children to express their feelings in a safe environment. Children who are prepared for the visitation and funeral generally find it easier to cope with these events. Younger children need a lot of help and support when a loved one dies. They may not be able to remember the specifics of the deceased or understand what will happen at the visitation and funeral services. A child funeral is a chance to honor the life of the deceased and pay your respects as a family. While a child funeral can be painful and sad, it can be a healing experience for a family. There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your child has a positive experience at the visitation and funeral. It is important to let the children know that their sibling will be at the visitation and funeral and what the body will look like. It is helpful to reassure them that the body will be cold and stiff, but that their sibling does not feel pain anymore. If the body will be cremated, it is important to explain what that means and that the ashes will be placed in an urn. If your child does not want to attend the visitation or funeral, it is important to respect their decision. However, it is also good to talk about their concerns and fears and to remind them that they can always change their mind. It is helpful to arrange for a friend or adult to be present so that they can take the child out of the ceremony if they become too upset. Give your child a job to do during the funeral ceremony. This could be as simple as bringing flowers or helping to hand out the order of service. They can also be asked to write a letter or poem for their sibling, read a story or play a song on the piano or guitar. If they are old enough, they can even say a few words during the service. It is important to remember that children at all ages will be affected differently by the death of their sibling. Some will cry a lot, others will not and some will behave in ways that are unexpected. It is important to have a designated person who can communicate with other adults if necessary and to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children. This will also allow the parents to attend the service without worrying about their children.
A baby’s wardrobe can seem a little overwhelming. While it’s tempting to buy every adorable thing in sight, it’s important to prioritize comfort and practicality first. Look for fabrics that are soft and breathable, free from harmful chemicals, and designed with helpful features like snap buttons. Some brands also offer coordinating pieces that make dressing your little one easier, especially for those times when a quick diaper change is necessary. A good place to start is with a basic outfit set. Look for onesies and bodysuits made from GOTS-certified organic cotton or cotton and bamboo blends. Many of these outfits have gender neutral colors or graphics to suit either a boy or girl. They also have snaps on the front, which makes it easy for you to access your baby for diaper changes. In terms of sizing, it’s often best to opt for size 3-6 months. That’s because babies grow quickly. Also, remember that the size on the label is typically the max fit for the piece, so it may be best to order a bit bigger to ensure your baby can wear it for longer. When it comes to accessories, consider picking up a few pairs of mittens and socks that you can swap out for the season or occasion. These can help protect your baby’s delicate skin and keep their hands warm while they explore their new surroundings. Also, try investing in a soft and stretchy baby hat that will help shield their head from the sun when it’s out. As for the rest of your baby’s clothing, you’ll want a few sets to dress them in for going out, and a few onesies, rompers or bubbles for sleeping at home. For colder climates, stock up on fleece footie pajamas as well. You’ll likely be changing your baby several times a night, so it’s smart to have plenty of clothes on hand for this. Aside from focusing on soft and breathable fabrics, it’s always a good idea to look for clothes that are made with hypoallergenic materials that can help reduce your baby’s risk of allergic reactions. If you’re looking for the ultimate in hypoallergenic and eco-friendly baby apparel, check out the Touched by Nature line from Hudson Childrenswear. This line includes gift sets that include a hat, mittens, socks and bodysuit made from organic cotton for under $55. Finally, when it comes to shoes, look for a pair of soft and sturdy moccasins like those offered by Freshly Picked. Not only are these cute, but they also feature two snaps that allow them to expand as your baby grows. Plus, the brand has a strong commitment to giving back with its 10 percent of profits set aside for human trafficking initiatives and donations to preemies in the NICU. When it’s time for a special occasion, look no further than the uber-cozy and chic offerings from House of Margaux. This label’s whimsical and imaginative prints (think rustic plants, bunnies and sea shanty) will put a smile on any parent’s face. Plus, the brand’s GOTS-certified fabrics and safety certifications are sure to impress.
When a loved one dies, many families want to dress them in an outfit they would typically wear if they were still alive. The clothing chosen can be based on the individual’s lifestyle, religious beliefs or personal style. Some of the options for attire include a suit, a shirt and tie or dresses, skirts and blouses. Others choose to dress their deceased family member in a military uniform or an outfit from a favorite sports team. A funeral home can provide a simple burial gown that is designed to make it straightforward for the funeral director to dress the deceased person with dignity. These garments resemble smart night gowns or pyjamas and can be made for men and women in both traditional and unisex styles. Burial robes that feature religious motifs, such as crosses or the Sacred Heart for Catholic funerals are also available. The clothing worn for a funeral should be comfortable and fitting, as the stiffening of the body after death, known as rigor mortis, can make it difficult to move and fit clothes on the body. A kilt or national dress may be appropriate for someone with a strong cultural heritage or who wishes to honor their culture at their funeral. Many charities and companies specialize in making funeral clothes, including special outfits for infants, children and the elderly. Some of these are made from materials that are naturally biodegradable. This is important for green and natural funerals and burial grounds, where the garments need to be able to break down quickly in the ground or water. For those who are buried in a casket, it’s common to place a few personal effects in the box with the body. These might include a book, a piece of jewelry or the deceased’s wedding ring. It’s a good idea to keep in mind, however, that if a loved one is to be cremated, these items will need to be removed, as the soft metal cannot be recovered after the cremation process. It’s also important to keep in mind that the clothing you choose for a loved one may be needed for more than just their funeral service. Some people who have been in hospice care or hospitals for a prolonged period may need to be dressed in their own clothes for burial as well as for the visitation and service. If you are unable to find an outfit that meets your needs, it is often possible for a family member to sew their own burial clothes. Those with sewing skills can purchase sewing patterns and kits for making a delicate funeral gown or bonnet for babies, or they can sew their own simple garment. A variety of fabric choices is available for this purpose, including silks, velvets and wool. For those who are not able to sew, there are companies that will make an outfit for a small fee. A quick online search will reveal the many options for this type of funeral apparel.
After your wedding day, it can be difficult to decide what to do with your dress. If you don’t plan on wearing it again, it could end up hanging in a closet collecting dust until you get married again, or it can be donated to a charity that can put the dress to good use. Besides being a great way to give back, it’s also an eco-friendly option as it helps reduce waste caused by new textile production, according to Zola. Many charities that accept donations of wedding dresses are not only helpful to brides who can’t afford their dream gown, but they also help advance a cause. For example, Brides Against Breast Cancer will sell your dress to new brides for a reasonable price and use the profits to fund early breast cancer detection programs. Another charity, Angel Gowns, transforms donated wedding dresses into beautiful infant burial gowns for families who have lost their little ones too soon. This organization has been around since 1997 and will accept any brand of dress as long as it is in excellent condition and recently cleaned. Other organizations that accept used wedding dresses include St Vincent de Paul and Oxfam bridal charity outlets in Dublin and Bangor. In addition, Adorned in Grace is a non-profit that raises awareness and provides support for victims of human trafficking, and they accept dresses countrywide. If you’re unsure where to donate your dress, do some research to find an organization that’s close to home. That will make it easy for you to drop off the dress, and you can be sure it’s going to a reputable place. It’s also a good idea to have the dress dry cleaned before you send it off. This will ensure it’s free of stains and snags that may be hard to remove once the dress is at its destination. Once you’ve selected an organization, it’s important to be clear and honest with them throughout the process of donating your gown. Keep records of all correspondence, agreements and receipts. This will not only ensure a smooth transaction, but it will also come in handy should there be any questions or issues down the line. Another option for your old wedding dress is to repurpose it into something else, such as a pillow or Christmas tree skirt. There are several stores that will alter your dress into a keepsake for you, or you can do it yourself by dying the dress a different color. Wedding dresses are incredibly delicate, so it’s important to take care of them as much as you can. One wrong move could rip the lace or tear off a bead. Before you send your dress to a charity, have it professionally cleaned and packaged so that it arrives in pristine condition. If your dress came with a garment bag, use it, or you can buy acid-free boxes to keep it safe in transit.
ND Angel Gowns transforms donated wedding dresses into infant burial gowns and keepsakes for babies born far too soon. These beautiful garments are delivered to hospitals, birthing centers, funeral homes and directly to families free of charge. Every year about 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage and more than 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. The grief of losing a child can be devastating. But for some parents, there is a moment of joy and beauty as they dress their tiny angel for the last time. This is the hope behind a program that is helping many families across the country. The story of a widower and her daughter, who lost their infant, inspired the creation of this remarkable organization. Angel Gowns of South Bay was started by Gayle Fleury. The organization consists of a group of women who sew these special garments for children who have passed away before, during or shortly after birth. Fleury was so moved by the response of families who have received these gowns that she began to recruit local seamstresses to help with this labor of love. In January of 2019, Spokane area resident Edith Reuter gathered up a vintage ivory satin wedding gown from her closet, one that had been hanging in her bedroom since her own special day 24 years ago. She cut the satin and stripped the delicate lace to create an exquisitely crafted outfit for newborn babies who are sadly taken before, during or shortly after birth. Reuter is now part of a large team that has been creating Angel Gown kits, which include a baby blanket, two hats and a memorial trinket, to donate to hospitals across the region. “It’s so important to give these little angels something beautiful to remember them by, and to let the family have a chance to hold them, look at them, and have that last memory with them before they are sent home,” she says. “It’s so sad, but this gives them a memory of their baby and it’s just so special.” Reuter, who has been sewing since she was 12 years old, was motivated to start her own chapter of Angel Gowns after reading about the program in a newspaper column. The article prompted an outpouring of support for the project from women like Lynn Gaber, a Mayo Clinic nurse in cardiovascular surgery. Gaber has made more than 80 of these tiny, beautifully embroidered dresses and gifted them to families who have lost their infants. This is a heartwarming story that reminds us that even in times of despair, the human spirit can soar. For more information or to contribute to the cause, visit the website for Angel Gowns. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What are your favorite ways to honor the memory of a loved one? Please share your stories with us in the comments below.
Children who are old enough to think for themselves and understand what is happening may feel that they don’t want to go to a funeral service. This is a normal feeling and it’s important to respect their decision. Children who do decide to go can be helped through the ceremony by having a role to play. They might be asked to help escort people to the graveside or place flowers on the casket. They can also write a poem or letter to be placed in the order of service. For babies, a special cradle or bassinet can be used. This can be covered with a special blanket or their own baby clothes that you keep from home. Some hospitals also stock tiny outfits that you can use for preemies or babies born too early. You can choose to have a religious or non-religious service and ask the funeral director, an independent celebrant or someone you know to lead it. You might want to include prayers and hymns or have a slide show of pictures. You might want to have a short reading or a toast and you could ask family members, friends or other guests to share memories of the deceased. Some families light memorial lanterns to send into the sky after the service. A child’s funeral can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, and it should be tailored to the needs of your family. You might wish to invite children, teenagers and adults to the funeral or memorial services to help with a sense of community. Children can be invited to decorate the graveside or memorial site and can write messages to their sibling on a message board or matted picture frame. If you are going to invite children to the funeral service, it’s best to talk with them beforehand to reassure them and to explain what they can expect. Younger children can often cope with a funeral well, especially if they are given a simple explanation and have an exit strategy in case they get overwhelmed. It is important that you tell them what they will see (such as a casket or urn) and that people may be crying. You might ask older children to read or write a poem or letter to be placed with the order of service, help place flowers on the casket or urn, or help choose photos for a slideshow. You might also give them other tasks such as handing out flowers to guests or asking them to sign a guest book. If you are planning a ceremony for your child and their siblings, it’s a good idea to designate one adult as their “funeral buddy.” This is someone who will be there to help them if needed. This person can take them to different places in the day, give them food or snacks, and make sure that they have a safe place to escape to if they become upset or distressed. They can also explain to their sibling what is happening and help them to understand that it is okay to cry and laugh.
If you’re expecting a new baby, getting ready for their arrival is one of the most exciting things you can do! However, it can also be daunting – especially when trying to figure out how many of each size clothing item you need. To help, we’ve broken down the standard number of outfits you should have on hand and included recommendations for items to stock up during the summer and winter, as well as for special occasions. The basics A baby needs to be dressed at least once a day and sometimes twice if they’re not sleeping. So having a lot of onesie- and bodysuit-style garments is a good idea, especially in the newborn and infant stages, when you’re adjusting to having your little one make messes at every turn. You may even want to consider purchasing or being gifted some cloth diapers, too, for when you’re on the go and need a quicker, cleaner solution than the traditional paper variety. To make it easier on parents when changing baby, look for onesies that have snaps at the bottom (sometimes called “all-in-ones”), which are much simpler to undress and can be used as a diaper cover if needed. You can also find rompers that have long sleeves (or short) and enclosed feet, which are similar to onesies but more versatile as they can be worn throughout the day and at night. Some brands even offer a combination of both styles – a dress top half with a romper under section, or just a romper with legs – which are known as “all-in-ones” or “growsuits”. At home, you’ll likely need onesie-style pajamas that have built-in feet. Often called sleep and play clothes, they’re great for lounging around the house, and can also be paired with a swaddle blanket at bedtime to help keep baby cozy and secure while sleeping. It’s also a good idea to have a couple of sleepers with zip-up or button-up tops, as these are great for baby to wear out and about when you need something quick and easy for frequent diaper changes. For the colder weather, you’ll need a mix of warmer layers to keep baby comfortable. In addition to long-sleeved shirts and socks, sweaters, and jackets, some manufacturers also produce warm outerwear for babies, such as snowsuits and parkas. It’s important to remember that babies grow quickly and can outgrow their clothing before you know it. To ensure you’re stocked up on the right size, it’s best to reference a brand’s size chart based on baby’s height and weight rather than their age. This will help you get an accurate fit that won’t be too loose or too tight. It’s also a good idea not to buy too many items in a single size, as babies can outgrow them before you’ve even had a chance to use them. To avoid this, it can be helpful to have a storage bin or two on hand for the items that you don’t end up using, so you can donate them or pass them on to friends and family.
A person’s final appearance is their last visual impression, and so it’s important to pay special attention to their clothing. It’s customary to dress a deceased loved one in clothes they would have worn in their everyday life, but there are also a variety of other options for funeral attire that are designed to help preserve the body and to give your loved ones an appearance that is natural, peaceful and dignified. For example, some funeral gowns are made of soft materials that resemble smart night wear and pyjamas. These are often used for men and women, and they’re available in a range of colors. They may feature religious motifs, such as the Sacred Heart for Catholic funerals, and they can also be tailored for different religious faiths. Other burial gowns are made of cotton or bamboo fibres, and they’re ideal for green funerals where a casket is placed in a woodland grave. They can be decorated with false shirt fronts or other embellishments to make them resemble day clothes and evening wear. Other outfits are designed to be easy for a funeral director to dress a person in. These are often made of a simple material, and they may be trimmed with lace or embroidery to give them a more refined look. They may be tailored for men and women, and they can also come in a variety of sizes. These outfits can also be decorated with a range of embellishments to suit different cultural traditions. Another option for a deceased loved one is to have their funeral dress made of silk. This is an expensive option but it’s a great way to ensure your loved one has the best possible appearance at their funeral and to give them a dignified appearance that will help to set them apart from other mourners. There are a number of places where you can buy and sew your own burial clothes. A search on the internet will reveal many companies that offer a wide range of styles, including a range of materials, and some even have a tutorial video so you can learn how to sew them. You can also make a donation to a local children’s hospital or NICU, which will usually accept homemade clothing for newborn babies and tiny preemies. A traditional dress or a kimono is a suitable option if the deceased had a specific cultural background that they wanted to honour, while for younger people, it’s common to dress them in clothes that are more casual than a suit or a formal dress. For infants, a white baby outfit is usually the best choice. It symbolises purity and peace, and it can be paired with a pair of shoes and understated jewelry to create a dignified and peaceful appearance.