Donate Wedding Dresses to Charity

If you have a dress in good condition that you don’t plan to wear again, consider passing it on to another bride. Many nonprofit organizations accept wedding gowns for donation and sell them at greatly reduced prices, benefiting brides on a budget. Some charities even accept flower girl and bridesmaid dresses, as well as bridal accessories like veils. You may even be able to claim the donations on your taxes, though that’s become more difficult since new tax laws came into effect this year.

Before you donate your dress, make sure it meets the charity’s criteria, advises Beth Chapman, founder of The White Dress by the Shore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Because some charities resell the dresses, they’ll want to make sure the dress isn’t more than five years old,” she says. Most places require a clean, unaltered gown with no visible stains or tears. Some also prefer a dress that hasn’t been altered in any way, especially if you don’t have the original tags.

Other requirements vary from place to place. Some will only accept donated dresses if they’re less than two years old, while others have more strict requirements, such as the need for the dress to be in perfect condition. You should also check to see if you’ll need to have the dress professionally cleaned before shipping it off, she notes.

Some charities use the proceeds from the sales of donated dresses to fund their own missions. For example, the organization Brides Across America passes on wedding dresses for free to military and first responder brides at twice-yearly Operation Wedding Gown events, and a charity called Adorned in Grace uses the sales of donated dresses and formalwear to help prevent human trafficking in various communities. The organization accepts both new and gently-used dresses, as well as bridal accessories.

You may also be able to donate your dress to a local thrift store, which often accepts dresses along with other clothing items. Goodwill Industries, for example, offers a bridal collection at its stores nationwide and donates the proceeds from sales to its mission of helping people find jobs, support families and live independently, and provide housing and other necessities. The retailer’s online form will ask you for detailed information about the dress and any bridal accessories that may be with it, and you can drop off your donation at a store or ship it to its headquarters.

Other thrift stores may specialize in a specific type of clothing or have their own special collections, such as dresses. For instance, the Washington, DC-based Charity Boutique, which has a section of its store dedicated to bridal gowns, accepts dresses and other wedding apparel as well as bridal accessories like veils. The retailer offers a 50% discount on the sale of all donated bridal attire. The boutique also supports charities such as the American Red Cross and Operation Homefront, among others. Similarly, Cherie Sustainable Bridal in Maryland, a bridal shop that accepts donated gowns, sells them in its store to benefit Success in Style, an organization that provides professional clothing and interview skills training for those in need.