Donate Wedding Dresses During the Pandemic

While many brides save their dresses to be worn again by future generations or participate in the popular “destroy the dress” tradition, others give them a second life through charitable donations. A few unexpected options are available in New York, including an “Angel Gown” program based an hour away in Albany, NY. Through this program volunteer seamstresses sew wedding gowns and other clothing into infant bereavement garments for families who lose a baby at birth or shortly afterward.

Other organizations, such as Brides Across America, accept dresses and other bridal accessories for free for military and first responder brides at special events twice a year. Their online form notes that gowns must be less than four years old and in wearable condition to qualify for donation.

If you have a more recent dress, you can also donate it to an online charity called Brides for a Cause, which has shops in several cities and states. Its website says it “repurposes donated wedding dresses and bridal attire, giving them new life and allowing women of all backgrounds to realize their dream wedding.” It does not charge for the service but asks that you pay the cost of shipping.

Other bridal items, such as veils and jewelry, are also accepted. You can drop off your items at the locations listed on the website, or you can donate by mail. Before you donate, wash or dry clean the dress. The CDC recommends doing so to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because the virus can remain on surfaces and certain types of fabric for a few days or more. This step is especially important if you plan to send your wedding dress to a charity during the pandemic.

In addition to these national options, thrift stores and other charities often accept preowned wedding dresses. If you choose this route, it’s best to contact the organization directly to make sure they’re accepting donations at that time.

When you donate your dress, it can help other brides who may be financially struggling during the pandemic. It can also reduce the environmental impact of creating and selling new dresses. According to GreenDrop, the production of new apparel and other textiles consumes hundreds of gallons of water and creates 10% of global carbon emissions.

One of the most common reasons people donate their wedding gowns is to help those who are suffering from tragedy or illness. NICU Helping Hands in Texas, for example, turns wedding gowns into beautiful infant burial gowns (also known as angel gowns) to support families who have lost babies due to premature birth or other causes. The organization has a waitlist for wedding dress donations, but is accepting monetary gifts to help pay for sewing fees.

Other charities that accept bridal wear and other accessories include Adorned in Grace, which sells the dresses through its online store to raise money for anti-trafficking and other projects. Its website lists the sizes it accepts and offers a guide to sending your wedding dress.