How to Donate Wedding Dresses

If your wedding dress has remained wrapped in a box since the day you wed, it may be time to give it a second life. From helping a bride in need to transforming your gown into a cherished family heirloom, there are many ways to donate your gown. Read on to learn more about the benefits of this meaningful act, how to prepare your dress for donation, and more!

Several charities specialize in taking worn wedding dresses and turning them into beautiful keepsakes for other brides. Some are based in the United States, while others have national or international reach. These charity organizations help a wide variety of people and couples, from women experiencing financial hardship to those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. They often have a short process for vetting dresses and do not require you to have them professionally cleaned prior to donation. Depending on the charity, they may also accept bridal accessories like veils and tiaras, as well.

Brides Against Breast Cancer: Donated gowns are resold at affordable prices to raise funds for various women-focused causes, including early cancer detection programs. The organization is one of the oldest programs to focus on wedding gowns, and it has one of the shortest deadlines for gown donations, at three years or less after your big day.

Dresses for the Bride: These bridal showrooms in Portland, Oregon; Tacoma and Seattle, Washington; and Sacramento, California sell donated dresses to support local and national women’s-based charitable organizations. They also take prom and formal gowns, bridal accessories, and other clothing.

The NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown Program: This nonprofit organization in Texas takes donated gowns and turns them into infant burial or “angel gowns,” bonnets, and other keepsake items that are given to families who have lost a baby during pregnancy or at birth. The organization currently has a waitlist, but is seeking monetary donations to fund the cost of shipping these custom gowns to families.

A Goodwill Store: These retail outlets accept wedding dresses, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, and other gowns for resale at discounted prices. A percentage of the proceeds is used to support local and national charitable causes, such as preventing homelessness and supporting sex trafficking victims.

For a more personal touch, consider having your dress made into a ring pillow, garter, or other wedding accessory. Or, have it transformed into a baptism or christening gown for a young female relative. There are also plenty of creative ways to repurpose your gown, from a sash to a reworked cocktail dress. Just be sure to check the donation guidelines for specific requirements. For example, some bridal boutiques and other organizations will not accept dresses that have been cut or altered in any way. Other charities will not accept dresses that are more than five years old. Whether you decide to keep your dress or repurpose it, your generosity can help someone else’s big day be all that they imagined, and may even provide them with a tax deduction, according to Martha Stewart Weddings.