What Happens to The Dream Dress after The Big Day?

When you really think about it the idea of a wedding dress is strange, to say the least.

I say this while being obsessed with my dream dress even though I’m 100% single and will be for quite some time (unless Cupid is up to something that I’m completely blind too). I am in no way wedding dress shaming anyone, I’m team dream gown. I proudly spend hours on Pinterest searching for that perfect gown, browse the many wedding magazines I have while folding corners and already think about the diet/exercise plan I’ll undoubtedly have to stick to in the months leading up to my wedding. 

But if you think a little too much about it, it all comes down to a stunning, probably expensive dress that you wear for a day (less if you do a dress change) and then…what? 

I don’t know! This is one thing I can’t know much about until it happens so I decided to ask a few ladies that have been married, recently or not, to share what happen to their dream dress after the wedding was said and done. 

(Sidenote: All the photos were provided by the brides!) 

Still up in the air…

(I think this is where I would end up being – undecided!)

Ashley Johnstone still hasn’t decided what to do with her dress, which I’ve now realized is a common reaction! She had that moment with this dress that it was the first one she tried on, and the one she kept going back to.

Ashley knows she wants to have it cleaned and thinks it might be worth it to sell, and her husband supports her selling it since they have the gorgeous wedding photos for the memories. 

Tess Nguyen had an outdoor wedding and being a very recent bride (she just got her pictures!) she hasn’t quite made up her mind what to do with it yet. 

So, as of right now, Tess’ dress has been cleaned and prepped and is ready to be picked up!

But you don’t have to be a recent bride for you to not know what to do with your dress! Colleen Johnstone got married 33 years ago and she’s still not sure what to do with her gown. 

“I was married 33 years ago and my dressed was purchased at Sears in Edmonton. After the big day my mom had it cleaned and sealed in a special blue box that was stored under my bed. When my parents drove to Ontario she brought it to me. I am currently storing it in the blue box above the basement fridge. I think my hope would be that my daughter would someday wear it. However, I think it is time to take it to a used clothing store so that someone else might use it or donate it to a theatre group to be used as a costume.”

The Practical Buy

I had a couple brides who kept the future in mind while shopping for their dresses by choosing one that they could easily wear again!

When Cassandra Belanger bought her dress she wasn’t just thinking about the wedding, she was thinking long-term. 

“I wanted my wedding dress to be timeless and classic. I didn’t need to wear a ball gown that would only be worn for a few hours and be tossed aside into the back of my closet. I fell in love with my dress for the possibilities of wearing it again for future anniversaries, and days that I wanted to be reminded of just how beautiful I felt on my wedding day. It’s multifunctional, where it can be dressed up or dressed down with a cute jacket, fun shoes & different jewelry. It embodies true femininity, tradition with a twist, and gives the “little black dress” a run for its money.”

Nuria Corbi Carrasco was thinking budget and practical when she bought her dress, two things that can be hard to stick to – she even added some DIY to make it happen!

“I had a registry office wedding last year on Halloween, and we decided to go for a very simple ‘vintage style’ look. We got married at the Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall in London where many celebrities have tied the knot in the past. But it was very simple, a lot of fun and the dress was bought on eBay (yes, I know it sounds awful but we were trying to do this on a budget) [Editor’s note: I think this is genius and in no way awful, go Nuria!]. The dress is from Fenn Wright Manson and I will be wearing it again for going out to restaurants or any other occasion. It’s a simple lace shift dress and I teamed it with 50s style white kitten heals, a white faux fur shrug and made my own birdcage veil.”

Creating something new 

Perhaps the most creative route to go – create something new out of your gown! Monica Murphy made two dresses (albeit small dresses) out of her wedding dress. 

“Boomer and I decided to get married on August 6, 1988, the anniversary of our first date. I had just graduated from college and started working full time. I wanted to make my own dress, and found the pattern that matched the picture in my head. My mom found the lace for the sleeves and bodice on a trip to Holland. I put the dress away after the wedding, not quite sure what I was going to do with it. In December 1990 we found out I was pregnant and in January, we discovered that we were going to have twins. At that time, I decided it would be cool to make my dress into christening gowns. Which I did, while hugely pregnant.”

Spreading the love

Letisha Hebner had a hard time deciding what to do with her dress that she absolutely loved (and I can see why). But what she came up? Might even be more beautiful than the dress – cheesy writing on my part, but I’m sure you’ll agree. 

“For me deciding what to do with my dress after the wedding date was a fairly tough decision. I had put so much effort into making it exactly what I wanted; I think I drove my poor seamstress to the brink of insanity. My dress consisted of three parts, the belt, lace sleeves and the body. I ended up keeping the belt as an accessory I can wear with many different outfits. The lace sleeves I’m keeping in the hopes of a future daughter or niece finding them as beautiful as I did. Finally, I donated the body of my dress to The Brides’ Project which is an organization in Toronto which sells gently used wedding dresses and accessories and donates the profits to fighting cancer.”

I loved writing this article and chatting with the different brides from all over, thank you so much again to all of them. If you have a story about your dress feel free to let us all know in the comments, I would love to hear it!


  1. Colleen Johnstone
    December 21, 2016 / 3:05 am

    August 6th was a good day for two wedding dresses one in 1983 and the other in 1988.

  2. Cathy M.
    December 22, 2016 / 12:46 am

    Great article, Brianne! My dress is still in a box with a window. Yep, that’s what we did in the 80’s. I don’t expect anyone to wear it as it is (the style is far from current), but I love the idea of donating it for a worthy cause. Thanks for the different stories and ideas.

  3. Linda Lrwis
    December 22, 2016 / 1:34 am

    I kept my dream dress for 16 years (carefully stored) hoping to pass it in to my daughter when at her urging, let her try it on . She was an average size teen at 16, but my dress was size 0 and couldn’t be zipped up!! I had my God- daughter try it and soon realized neither of themWould ever wear it!!A niece was looking for a wedding dress for a high school play and happened it happened to fit her- so it was donated know that it would have its last "hurrah !!

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