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.