Trash the dress!

For three years after I got married, my wedding dress sat in a lump on the floor of my closet. It had chocolate icing smeared down the front of it, a bourbon and coke stain on the train, and half of its lining ripped out as a result of my husband’s superb dancing skills. Eventually, the dress made its way to the dry cleaner’s where they did a little magic on it. The stain on the back of it remains clearly visible, but the icing was removed and the tear was repaired.

I think the idea of one day having my daughter wear it is downright cruel (An out-dated dress that has a big stain on it! You’ll be the envy of all your friends!), so I’m not really certain why I’ve kept it all these years or even took it to the dry cleaners to be “fixed.” Some friends have suggested that I cut it up and make it into something new, the way that Andie Walsh did in Pretty in Pink. And, I honestly like this idea, but have never acted on it.

My unrealistic desire to cut up my dress and repurpose it came to a sudden halt yesterday when I read an e-mail from my husband about the Trash the Dress project. My days of storing my wedding dress are finished. I have great plans of wearing it in the mud or under water or while skiing or in whatever crazy situation the photographer can imagine. (To give you an idea of my dreams of what to do on this project, check out this collection by photographer John Michael Cooper. Wow.)

If you have your wedding dress in your closet and are looking for a creative way to have it cease being clutter, consider participating with me in the Trash the Dress project.

Now I hope my dress still fits …

Photo at right courtesy of Mark Eric.

34 Comments for “Trash the dress!”

  1. posted by Christine on

    I love this Trash The Dress idea – you end up with something you can actually display as a work of art, rather than a piece of pretty fabric stuffed in the back of your closet!

  2. posted by Alissa on

    This is so timely — my husband and I are moving in two months and I’ve been trying to get rid of as much clutter as possible, wedding dress included. To make my mother happy I’ve agreed to store it at their house until they move in three years (my mother cannot bear to let go of anything sentimental) but after that, Trash the Dress it is!

  3. posted by Misty on

    I tried to sell my dress at a parochial school yard sale (donated it). My MIL, who was volunteering, couldn’t stand to see it be sold, so she took it, cleaned it, and paid for it to be boxed. Which I didn’t want to happen. So now it’s in our attic, because I hate to see that money wasted.

    I doubt I still fit it, but it would be interesting to work on this project.

  4. posted by Misty on

    The site is a bit annoying because I can’t find a direct explanation of the point.

  5. posted by Erin on

    The explanation of the site is in its early blog posts. The basic premise is that you find a photographer, set up a photo session where you wear your wedding dress in unbelievable situations that ultimately ruin your gown, and then the photographer submits the photos to the website. In the end, you have a series of amazing photographs that can be displayed and your closet has extra space in it. Think of what would make your mother scream, and you’re on the right track.

  6. posted by d3 on

    Misty, click on the link at the top that says “Why Trash The Dress”

  7. posted by Maffalda on

    I like the idea of amazing photographs taken of a stained or otherwise not reusable wedding dress, but I’d still prefer to see people donating dresses to worthy causes, like or the I Do Foundation

  8. posted by Jasi on

    Donate it. Someone could have a dream wedding with your crazy dress. They’re so expensive.

  9. posted by Jennifer on

    There’s another organization that accepts wedding dresses and turns them into burial gowns for babies.

    It doesn’t make any sense to me to trash it and throw it away when someone else could find value in it.

  10. posted by Erin on

    I could understand donating a dress if it is in good quality … the big brown stain on the back of mine completely negates that option, however.

  11. posted by Robert on

    Wasn’t that Betsy’s Wedding, not Pretty In Pink?

  12. posted by Christine on

    In addition to the I Do Foundation, you could donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer ( There’s to reason to destroy a perfectly good dress when you could raise money for such a worthy cause.

  13. posted by Erin on

    Robert — I mean Pretty in Pink

  14. posted by JAV on

    I realize this is blasphemy on a site called “Unclutterer,” however, at the risk of being banned from the site I’ll offer this personal experience. I actually wore my mother’s dress. It was stylish on its second aisle decent – very Audrey, and I loved it. Most importantly, it took some major clutter out of the wedding chores I had to do.

  15. posted by s on

    Many people think that when you “trash the dress” you LITERALLY trash it to pieces, when in reality, most of the photos are really in water and mud/etc, and with a good cleaning, CAN still be usable and donated. I know a bride who did this – wore it, trashed it in photos, and is cleaning it to be donated. She even claimed that after getting in the water with it, it’s cleaner than it was originally! So you can still get wonderful photos and donating the dress too.

  16. posted by Cyrano on

    “It had chocolate icing smeared down the front of it, a bourbon and coke stain on the train, and half of its lining ripped out as a result of my husband’s superb dancing skills.”

    Sounds like one hell of a honeymoon 😉

  17. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I don’t know where the notion came from that women had to save their wedding dresses. My Nanny told me that her mother cut up her wedding dress to make baptismal gowns for her children.
    I still remember her saying:
    Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.
    I guess we have become spoiled in our affluent society.

  18. posted by Sarah on

    I’m going to “Trash the Dress.” I sent the site to a girlfriend a week ago, she’s in San Diego, and she went to the TTD Party, out there. She loved it. Has great pics and says that the dress wasn’t “ruined.” It was wet, it was a bit dirty but still usable. I say, trash it but not too bad then donate it. Can you tell I’m a “Have your cake and eat it too” kind of person? 😀

  19. posted by Ally on

    I donated my dress, veil, and shoes to a local charity. My feeling was that I had my day in it and I wanted to give another woman the chance to feel beautiful and special on her wedding day–her economic situation shouldn’t hold her back. I had the best feeling all day after I donated the dress.

  20. posted by Jude on

    I have the dress from my first wedding. My mother made it. The material cost $50, and she used the leftover material to make a shirt for my fiance that would fit over his back brace (he was in a wheelchair). I think it’s the prettiest dress I’ve ever seen. It’s also machine washable and eminently practical. I’ve lent it for a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof and even though I don’t fit in any longer and the marriage ended decades ago, I have no problem keeping it because to me it’s okay to keep a few beautiful things. Perhaps some day my daughter will wear it, but even if she doesn’t, I’m keeping it.

  21. posted by Jill on

    My first wedding dress, cost a small fortune (10% of my overpriced wedding) and I ended up sending it to the dump when I moved avec my second husband. I couldn’t give it away -and trust me I was looking for a fat poor bride to take it!

  22. posted by Bryan on

    If you are in Michigan and want trash-the-dress photos shoot me an email: [email protected]

  23. posted by Bryan on

    Oh ya, AWESOME site BTW! I need to de-clutter VERY bad. -Bryan

  24. posted by Veronica H. Davis on

    A bit dismayed reading the above. I agree that there is no need to store a wedding dress. Styles, wants & needs change. Instead of the above suggestions, why not donate it for reuse by some lucky bride-to-be? The cloth & lace has value for someone. I am not a crafter. Without expending excessive time at all, I made a christening outfit, using the pretty collar and front of the dress, cut off the wonderful buttons and since used them … No clutter. The magic of the dress may be gone with no need nor room to keep it. Memories are locked in our minds, souls & pictures; but, to sit in water gathering moss, sounds pretty inane–benefits only the photographer. Seems a rather poor use of purpose & money.

  25. posted by Sarah Paul on

    I think alot of you are missing the point. The idea is to take something that will PROBABLY never be used again and create something that will be beautiful for many years. It’s a gift to many husbands to prove that their wives have no intention of ever wearing that dress again, or a prize to the bride who has spent months stressing out for one day. I’m having a destination wedding in December with a reception in January, and you better believe that I have all intentions of trashing my dress afterwards!

  26. posted by Nathania on

    I agree with those who say DONATE THE DRESS! Please try and do that first! Find someone who can remove the stain!

    Also – encourage bridesmaids to donate dresses to low-income students for their proms!

  27. posted by Rochelle on

    To all you people that say donate the dress…I had no intention of spending $$ on new wedding dress and planned to wear “something nice”. But at the nagging of friends, I checked out some thrift stores. In a very short time, I literally saw hundreds and hundreds of wedding dress. There is NO SHORTAGE of used wedding dresses. So if someone wants to make art, have fun and possibly ruin their one wedding dress, I hardily encourage it! Personally, I think it is a wonderful example of the joie de vivre the world could use more of.
    FYI-I ended up buying a gorgeous silk dress for $30 in Palm Springs.

  28. posted by Mugsy on

    Um, don’t you already have enough pictures of you in your dress? Why waste even more money having more pictures taken? Seems like the “wedding industry” has found even more ways of ripping people off. But you seems pretty happy about throwing your money away anyway.

    Good grief people. Haven’t you ever heard about charity or saving your money? Trashing the dress seems so wasteful and disrespectful. (“I’m so rich I can buy an expensive dress, wear it once and then completely destroy it. All with a photographer snapping away. Aren’t I cool?”)

    Just more and more evidence that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Why not just make a big pile of money and set that on fire? Maybe you can hire a photographer to take a picture. Sounds like a good use of resources.


  29. posted by Sean LaFianza on


    man, you’re really angry aren’t you? i’m a wedding photographer trying to make ends meet for my family of four. The money people “throw away” on my work feeds my family. As erin has said she has a stain on the back of her dress, how is she going to use her dress from this point forward? She obviously has a respect for art and photography as an artistic medium, is that for you to dictate? If a high-art session is $200 while having fun doing something creative and non-traditional, so be it! People can “throw away” $200 on dinner at a fancy restaurant perhaps they should have gone to mcdonalds instead, after all food is food. Yet that chef went to culinary school for many years and you just ate the best mahi-mahi money can buy… people charge a certain rate for a reason and also because there’s a customer base to support it.

    As for the wedding industry “finding one more way to rip people off”, you may want to look into the wedding industry a bit more and realize how much work goes into any facet of it be it photography, videography, catering… the only person who does their job and goes home with no post production work is the DJ but he does tons of work before the event. Each bride i work with is a 40-60 hour commitment from start to finish.

    I love my job, i love working with brides but it is a labor of love, seldom is someone going to ‘make it rich’ exploiting the wedding industry as you seem to think.

    re: Erin! We’d love to see your images when their done!

  30. posted by Jey on

    I was married on 5/5/07. It was a gorgeous wedding, we had a wonderful time and we took amazing pictures! Our photographer utilized all of the standard pictures, from ceremony to portiture to reception. On 6/16/07 I trashed my dress and it was awesome!!! We had our bridal party get together on the beach, all dressed up and we trashed them too!!! We took about 200 shots in the sand and the water and they are amazing too!!! Look for them on!! I can’t tell you how surreal it is to be able to wear your wedding dress twice. We went to dinner at an ocean front restauraunt and you get that feeling of being beautiful when everyone in the place is whispering and looking and telling you “beautiful”, “i love that dress” etc. Girls, you know what I’m talking about. Once on the beach we started slow, took some pictures on the sand. Then we just “jumped in”! It was so liberating the first time a big wave came up behind us and I felt the train of the dress get washed up toward the shore. There is a great picture of my husband looking at me to make sure I was still OK with it, because it was done and I am just laughing with a huge smile!! Priceless. I did a lot of thinking and as a lot of people their opinions and no one, not one person told me to do nor told me not to do it. When it comes down to it your daughter will not wear it. In this world of fashion, and millions of unique designs and styles she will want one that is as unique and beautiful as she is. I suggest saving the veil, she may want to utilize that but I doubt she will want the dress…you didn’t want your mother’s! All it’s going to do is sit in a box or bag stuffed (not even hung carefully) in a closet or attic or basement and you’ll never look at it again. Why not have as much fun with it as you can?? I plan on making some pillows with it also to keep as accents in my dining room, it will look gorgeous with our formal china dishes!! Hope this gives all the skeptic brides out there some ideas. Check out for some great shots!! My myspace webpage is posted and some of the shots are on there! Feel free to email me is you need some cheerleading! Good luck and have freakin’ fun with it!!! YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!

  31. posted by Sue on

    I cut up a friends wedding dress and made it into a christening dress (now been used twice) and each time I have embroiderded the babys name inside the hem.Much easier to store!!!

  32. posted by Jaime on

    I gave mine to Goodwill last year. It was hard, but I’m happy I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

  33. posted by dress stasher on

    I’m going to take some wild crazy fun artsy shots of our boxed up dress to submit to

  34. posted by Rick Harvey on

    Check the mud TTD album here. These are in Denmark by a great mud photographer I also would love to shoot pics at a TTD near St. Louis or? [email protected]

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