Wendie donating her wedding dress

Had a beautiful wedding and now you want to sell or donate your wedding dress? Almost have a wedding and now you definitely have a dress to give away?

Lots of women ask themselves “What do I do with this wedding dress?!” for different reasons.

Take a look at three ways you can re-home your new or used wedding dress and get passed the emotional ties that bind you and the dress.

How to sell or donate your wedding dress without being in your feelings!

That Time I almost Got Married…

Ending an engagement can be traumatic. Depending on how far down the road you got with planning, you could get stuck with a wedding dress you never wore. Like I did.

In 2010 I was engaged, but that really isn’t the story to tell in this post. I had to learn and grow from the experience of becoming un-engaged. I can’t say that I’ve learned everything there is to know about relationships, but I have learned a lot since then.

When that relationship ended and I had to sort out the financial and emotional baggage I was left with. I felt alone and depressed. I was saddened by the loss of my relationship and the downward spiral that both of us created. I was disheartened at losing a great friend and my first true love. The person I traveled the world with, who saved my life numerous times, who I thought would be the father of my children. 

Some people are meant to be loved from afar. For me, he is one of those people. The dynamics of our relationship would not make for an enduring marriage and I understood that clearly. However, the venue was already booked and my dress was already ordered. 

Wendie V after the dress arrived but the wedding was already called off.
The fitting when I picked up the dress (2011).

Separating Emotions From the Dress

For the past 5 years, I would cringe at the sight of my wedding dress hanging in my coat closet. It took a long journey to get there. 

I ordered the dress in 2011 in Los Angeles and it arrived weeks after we called off the wedding. I was so angry and hurt that I couldn’t deal with the dress. 

I asked a good friend to harbor it in her closet until I could figure out what to do with it. It sat there for 4 years until I finally flew it back to Maryland from California.

At first I tried to ignore my emotions around the dress and just kept it in the closet. Eventually I started getting frustrated with the dresses’ presence. I began to look into how to get rid of the dress.

Here are the lessons I learned when I tried to part ways with my unworn wedding dress and the emotional baggage that came with it.  

Of course, your story is probably vastly different from mine. Everyone’s path is unique and you might have other reasons for wanting to donate or sell your wedding dress.

No matter if you had a wedding or not, your wedding dress is a piece of clothing that symbolizes a range of emotions. Selling or donating your dress can cause you to become hyper-emotional about an article of clothing, that’s O.K. These tips will help you survive the experience and thrive with less baggage.

Tip #1: Look for Local Shops that Consign Wedding Dresses

When I finally brought the dress back to Maryland from California, I put it in my coat closet and started looking for places to sell it. I Googled “where to sell a wedding dress” and I found a local consignment shop. 

They asked me a few questions over the phone – Was it worn? How old was it? Am I looking to consign it? After answering the woman’s questions she booked a consultation visit for me in the store. Later that week I brought the dress to the consignment shop for an evaluation with the original receipt. 

When I arrived the clerk took the dress out of the garment bag I had it stored in and inspected it.  They said they would accept the dress on consignment for only $500 (I paid over $2,000 for it). This was due to the age and the clerk repeated the rules for consigning a dress. 

Wedding dress beadwork detail
The dress beading detail.

Ask About the Rules for Consigning a Dress

Most consignment stores have rules for consigning dresses. They may consign them for a limited amount of time or require the dress to be less than a certain number of seasons old. Stores will price your dress based on a number of factors. 

When you call for your consultation appointment, ask about the consignment rules specific to that store. Since store policies vary, so make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the store’s policies.

Likely, there are policies about dates, so be sure to track those closely. If you decide not to consign your dress that day, the offer may expire within a certain time frame after your consultation. 

This is what ultimately happened to me. I wasn’t sure if I could get more value for the dress donating it as a tax-write off or selling it online. I decided not to consign it. However, I forgot the offer was only valid for a few months after my appointment. When I called to inquire again, I was told my dress was now too old and out of date.  The consignment store would not make another offer. 

Tip #2- Try Selling Your Wedding Dress Online

Wendie showing the back of the dress.
Back detail with full train.

There are many places you can list your wedding dress online for sale. Most require several pictures, the dress model and designer information, and a price. Some sites will take a commission on the sale while others will not. Several sites have a flat rate for a premium listing that will give you better ad placement.

This article gives a fantastic overview of all the websites where you can sell your new or used wedding dress. 

I listed my dress on several websites with absolutely no luck. The reality is, there are just so many wedding dresses out there for brides to choose from new or used. It’s a saturated market and I don’t quite know if there is enough demand for the supply.

I recommend trying this route first if you have an extremely new and popular dress that brides will be searching by name. If your dress was purchased this season or last season, even better!

Tip #3- Find a Place to Donate Your Dress

Wedding dresses are bulky so I didn’t want to ship the dress if I didn’t have to. Unless I sold the dress online, I planned to find a place to donate my unworn wedding dress locally. 

I Googled one last time “where can I donate my dress near me?” Luckily, I found a wonderful local organization near me in Montgomery County, Maryland- Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring Budget. 

I made an appointment to show them my dress and they quickly accepted it. Even though it was now several seasons old. They said the age wasn’t important because it was brand new, unworn, and extremely well taken care of.

Donate Your Wedding Dress for a Good Cause

If you donate your dress to a registered non-profit 501(c)3 organization the value will be tax-deductible. Make sure that you get the donation receipt before you leave. If you lose it by tax time you can always call the store for a duplicate copy. 

Since Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring Budget is a registered non-profit organization, my dress donation is tax deductible. After I donated my dress I left with my tax donation receipt. I was happy to have found a place that wold ensure the dress found a good home.

Hopefully Your Dress Makes Someone Else Happy

Wendie says bye to the dress at Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring Budget
Byee dress!! Happy to see you make someone else happy!

Yes, the tax deduction is nice. But the real reason to donate your used or unworn wedding dress is so it can bring joy to someone else on their special day. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. 

For me this was a very huge part of wanting to find a home for my dress rather than throwing it away or just taking it to a drop-off donation center. I wanted to make sure that the dress had an opportunity to live up to its potential and have a bride choose it to make her look like a princess, the way I imagined it would have made me look. 

It might be sappy, but I like the idea of helping someone else find an affordable, beautiful, new dress. Although the dress didn’t workout for me, I hope that my experience will be a positive one for another woman. Especially a woman with financial constraints and who still wants a beautiful wedding. 

If you are considering selling, consigning, or donating your wedding dress and aren’t sure what the best option is… any of them are a great option! In the end, your dress will bring joy to someone else on a very special day. What more could one want than to contribute to a stranger’s happiness?

You Must Part With Emotional and Tangible Baggage

The wedding had already been called off by the time of the fitting. I was not excited to be taking this photo.

I realized I had been holding on to my wedding dress for so long, waiting to find the perfect opportunity to let it go. For years, I wanted to be free of the dress hoping that my back luck with dating would end. In reality, what made me donate it was a need for space and the desire to know someone else is wearing it and is happy.

Everyone accumulates things they carry with them in life. Sometimes those are experiences or tangible goods. Other times the baggage is associated with people, places, and stories. 

If those experiences were unhappy, toxic, or caused you hurt in the past and you’re holding on to an item that reminds you of those times… get rid of it! 

Sometimes it’s hard for us to let go of items that represent emotions. Especially if the item represents a person you love or loved once. Even happy memories can cause emotional baggage if your heart is not healed. 

Healing yourself means healing your past. When you carry things forward from the past, you limit the potential of the future. 

Letting go of a wedding dress can be emotional for a number of reasons- happy or sad. But the future awaits and it’s always a good time lighten your load of worldly possessions. 

A Few Final Thoughts On Being In Your Feelings About the Dress

I was definitely sad to see my dress go. In some ways it represented a future that never happened and a chapter in my life that has long since passed. I’ve had almost 10 years to heal from that experience and I learned a lot about life and loving myself through that healing. 

When I handed my princess dress over, I said goodbye silently. I laughed and joked with the clerks that “it was cursed for me, but it will bring someone else great happiness.”

I couldn’t help but walk out of the store with a few tears in my eyes and taking a deep breath. I got into my car and mediated on the experience.

I gave up a future that never was via a dress I never wore. 

Tips for separating your emotions from your wedding dress so you can sell or donate it.  #wedding #weddingdress #sellweddingdress #consignweddingdress

I follow Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring Budget on Instagram in hopes of seeing a happy bride in my dress looking amazing. Maybe one day I’ll see a familiar dress on an unfamiliar face, and I’ll smile.

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