Do you have plans for your wedding gown after your walk down the aisle? The choice is a personal one that might include preserving it for a relative, friend, or future daughter, repurposing it into baptism or First Communion pieces for your children--truly a visual representation that the bond established on your wedding day bears spiritual fruit through the years--or giving your dress to other brides, which fosters both sisterhood and a green sensibility.
If you’ve chosen to sell or donate your gown, the options can be overwhelming. Here, our curation of the best organizations the dress donation world has to offer, including some distinctively Catholic resources.
For the ease of online transactions
Preowned Wedding Dresses: This online marketplace, the largest out there for bridal items, boasts 14 years of credibility and facilitates gown and accessory re-sales directly between buyers and sellers. It’s designed to minimize hassle and maximize profit, offering a one-time listing fee with no commission for the site, a dress value calculator, and a conveniently specific search function that makes it easy for your gown to appear in listings.
To give to military couples
Brides Across America: A nonprofit dedicated to military and first responder brides, this organization supports the men and women whose life’s work is our freedom, providing free wedding gowns at their events nationwide. Gowns less than five years old are accepted for consideration.
To support humanitarian causes
Adorned in Grace: This bridal shop and design studio in the Portland, Oregon area accepts wedding dresses five years old and newer, in-store or by mail, to be repurposed or redesigned by at-risk girls in the area, including those who’ve been in the foster care system or have been traficking victims. Rooted in a mission to convey to these young women their dignity, worth, and identity in Christ and to model the love and hope of faith-centered weddings, proceeds from the nonprofit go to design workshops, education, and/or counseling from human traficking survivors.
Brides for Haiti: A project of St. Mary’s parish in the Archdiocese of Washington, the Brides for Haiti program sells secondhand wedding and formal attire. Profits benefit St. Mary’s sister parish, St. Joseph’s, in Carcasse, Haiti, including health, education, and infrastructure initiatives. Volunteers and seamstresses are on-site at events to answer questions and provide information about the cause. Stay informed about calls for donations--in person or by mail--and upcoming sale events via the project’s Facebook page.
The Bridal Garden: Located in the heart of Manhattan, this not-for-profit shop dedicated to education specializes in discounted designer gowns from boutiques and donations. Earnings benefit disadvantaged schools and children in New York City.
To support the Church
Religious life: Our sisters in religious life are every bit the bride, espoused to Christ through their vows. In several orders, including the Colettine Poor Clares, Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, and some Carmelite orders, it’s customary for women to profess their solemn vows in wedding attire. Contact communities in your area directly to discuss the possibility of donating your gown.
Parish resales: Parishes nationwide hold periodic sales of secondhand gowns, with proceeds benefiting the church or diocese. This donation option not only supports the parish community in your area, but encourages shopping locally. To keep up with forthcoming sale events and inquire about making a donation, try subscribing to your diocese’s newspaper, emails, or social media platforms and keeping an eye out in weekly bulletins.
Have you or are you planning to donate your dress? We love hearing about the local and national programs that support other women in their call to marriage, so be sure to share what additional means of donating you’ve employed in the comments and on our social media.