How to Donate Wedding Dresses

Most girls dream of growing up and having the perfect storybook wedding in a white gown. While some brides choose to keep their dresses as keepsakes or pass them down to their daughters, others are choosing to donate their wedding dresses instead. The reasons vary from a lack of storage space to wanting to make a difference in the world. Donating a wedding dress can also be a potential tax deduction and reduce the amount of pollution caused by manufacturing new gowns.

The most obvious option for wedding dress donations is the local Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store. These charity organizations take the dresses and sell them in their stores, with proceeds funding a variety of charitable programs. Most Goodwill locations also hold annual bridal events where hundreds of donated wedding dresses are showcased.

Other options for wedding gown donations include the non-profit boutique Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring in Washington, DC, and Brides Across America, a nonprofit that outfits military and first responder brides with free dresses during its Operation Wedding Gown events held twice a year. The nonprofit also has a retail store where dresses and bridal accessories can be dropped off or shipped.

In addition to these national charities, there are many other local options for wedding gown donations. For example, Angel Gowns of the Capital Region in Albany, NY, repurposes donated wedding dresses into infant burial gowns called angel gowns that are offered to families who have lost their baby. Brides can donate their dresses by filling out an online form or by calling the organization for further instructions.

Before donating your wedding dress, you should do some research to ensure that the charity is a reputable one and that you understand how your donation will be used. The first step is to contact the charity directly and ask about their guidelines. For example, some charities accept only dresses that are less than five years old and have been dry cleaned, while others require a certain level of quality and offer specific cleaning instructions for donors.

Once you know the dress’s specifications, it’s important to properly pack it for shipping so that it arrives in pristine condition. This means having it professionally cleaned and packing it in acid-free boxes. It’s also a good idea to label the box with helpful information about the dress to save charity volunteers time, such as the dress size, the brand or designer, and the year of purchase.

Another important factor to consider is whether the dress will be worn by a bride or by a family member. This is especially true if the charity is an organization that deals with a sensitive topic like sex trafficking. In that case, the donor should contact the charity to find out more about how the gowns are used and to request additional packing instructions. In some cases, the charity may even provide a kit of supplies to help the dress be preserved and shipped safely for its intended recipient.