Donate Wedding Dresses to Charity

When you’ve finally had your last dance with your wedding dress, it’s time to give it new life. Instead of keeping it tucked away in a closet, you can donate it to a charity and help someone who will wear it as their own special day comes around.

There are plenty of charities that accept dresses, including thrift stores, community centers, and nonprofit organizations. Zola says some specialize in reselling gowns while others use the proceeds to support specific causes such as breast cancer, environmental protection, military wives, and abuse survivors.

Adorned in Grace resells donated dresses, with the profits going toward programs that prevent and help rehabilitate women affected by sexual trafficking. Brides for a Cause sells dresses to raise money for various women-focused initiatives, including supporting survivors of domestic violence and helping children in crisis. The Brides Project, also in Ann Arbor, Michigan, outfits adult and child cancer patients with wedding dresses at no cost. The nonprofit’s goal is to make sure every woman has a beautiful dress on her big day, regardless of financial hardships.

Operation Wedding Gown provides free wedding dresses to military and first responder brides who have been impacted by financial hardship. The organization runs two events each year, during which brides can find the dress of their dreams while raising funds to assist with future needs. Another charity that makes use of donated gowns is Texas-based NICU Helping Hands, which gives families who have lost an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit custom made gowns to wear for final photos and funerals.

If you want to keep your gown but don’t see yourself wearing it again, consider dyeing it a different color to turn it into formalwear for other special occasions. You can even hem it into a minidress or cocktail dress.

One more option is to frame your dress, a great way to preserve it for generations. There are companies that can help you do this, and they will also provide acid-free boxes to protect your dress and prevent any stains from aging over time.

You can also pass your dress on to your daughters, granddaughters, or nieces. It will always be a sentimental piece to them, and they can repurpose it to fit their style. You can also have it framed as a keepsake, or use the fabric to create home decor items or cherished crafts like baptism dresses for your kids.

Depending on the charity you choose, your dress may need to be professionally cleaned before it can be accepted. Be sure to check with each organization’s guidelines before donating. Some have put restrictions on accepting dresses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s best to do your research in advance.