Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Craig of Simple Black Coffee.
I’m a guy…a married guy who’s writing a post about wedding dresses.
My wife wore a traditional wedding dress on our special day almost 11 years ago and it now resides in a plastic bag hanging in a closet.
Many people participating in Project 333 are also simple living advocates examining what they own and whether they need it. Some may have whittled down the pans, CDs, books and clothing to the point where it’s time to start examining sentimental items and memorabilia.
A wedding dress falls into a strange category of keepsakes, a rather one sided category. Most men rent their wedding wear and return it shortly after the wedding. Your wedding dress still takes up space in a closet or a box and it stands to reason that you’ll never wear it again.
I enlisted the help of my wife and some other married women friends to get a feel for how important a wedding dress is after the ceremony is over. I assumed that Molly, my bride of 11 years was hanging onto her dress because she had no reason to get rid of it, but at the same time figured someday she’d decide it could go.
I was wrong.
She told me that it’s still important and sentimental to her, and if something were to happen to it she’d be quite sad. She also told me that her feelings about the dress will likely grow as time passes instead of diminish.
I thought I might stumble upon a theme as I reviewed answers from people whom I interviewed but it didn’t happen. All the women I talked to saw the dress as a sentimental item in their life, but as some stepped back from the romanticism, they saw that it was just a dress and there probably wasn’t a very realistic reason they were hanging onto it. Others felt it was going to be something they’d hold onto forever.
Laura -married 19 years- told me “I think as you get older, you narrow down your idea of what is important as far as sentimental value.”
Amy -married 18 years- stated something similar…
Sentimentality is the only reason I still have it. I probably couldn’t get my right leg in it anymore, and I doubt my daughters will ever wear it. I’m not sure how you part with something from such an important day in your life, especially when it cost a small fortune!
Reality sets in. If we were ever to renew our vows, I wouldn’t wear it again. Couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’ve never actually known anyone who wore their mother’s dress, but as a newlywed without kids it’s a romantic notion to think one’s yet unborn daughters will one day be so honored to wear the same dress worn by her mother!
but Shelly -married just over a year- said…
Right now, I don’t see much sentimental value in the wedding dress. I have no one to “show” it to, all my friends and family have already seen it just over a year ago. If I were to get it cleaned and sell it I could get more money for it now as opposed to 20 years from now because it’s still “in style.” In the same way, if I were to donate it to Goodwill or a similar charity, it would benefit someone else more now than it would years down the road because of trends and style.
But, I believe the dress’s sentimental value will grow over time. If you were to ask me this same question 10-15-20 years from now, I would probably say that I want to keep it for its sentimental value, because by that time I imagine I would have children and once they get older and perhaps get married themselves, I would want to show them what wedding dresses looked like “back in the day.” I remember my mom showing me hers when I was a kid…and a few years ago when my grandmother passed away we came across her wedding dress from back in the 1940s. It was so cool to have a tangible item -not just a photograph- of my grandmother’s wedding dress.
Some keep their dress but for sentimental reasons. Laura, mentioned previously, said that while her wedding dress wasn’t a traditional gown, she could foresee herself wearing it as a Halloween costume one day. Jen -married 9 years- sounds as though she wouldn’t have much trouble parting with her dress if she decided to because…
I think the person who was obsessed about finding “the dress” would be more likely to feel keeping or preserving the dress was essential. If it were a family heirloom, I’d treat it with the care it deserves. But it is not. Preserving a dress that I happened to find on a discount rack at a bridal store that looked nice on me was great, but pales in comparison to the commitment I made on that day.
Plus, Jen’s dress is serving an important function at the moment, it’s hiding a rifle in the back of a closet.
If you’re going to practice simple living you better walk the walk. Jessica -married 3 years- dropped her dress off at the Salvation Army just a couple weeks ago. Her rationale for the purge was…
I was definitely hanging on to it because that is what you are supposed to do. You’re supposed to save it for your daughter to wear… but I’m at the age where it seems like everyone is getting married and I’ve never heard of ANYONE wearing their mother’s dress.
Jessica was more excited about her wedding dress the day before her wedding than even the day after her wedding. Her feeling is that when you start thinking rationally and stop thinking emotionally the choice to ditch the dress is easy.
Need help ditching your dress?
- Donate it to an organization like Brides Against Breast Cancer where it can find new life.
- Sell it online. Make a few bucks back.
- Give it to a costume rental shop. They can use it for theatrical productions or Halloween.
- If the dress isn’t too eleborate, dye it a color and wear it on a fancy evening out or offer it to a teen to be used as a prom dress.
- If it’s damaged and you just want to toss it, cut some panels of fabric from the dress and use them to decorate scrapbooks and photo albums, make panels for a memory quilt or even to make dresses for dolls that you can give to children in your family.
- Or if you want to ditch it real quick, donate it to Goodwill or The Salvation Army
I know I’ll never think of wedding dresses the same after writing this, nor will I dare ask my wife anytime soon if we can get rid of hers. What did you do with your wedding dress?