The confetti has long since fallen, the photos are in an album, the thank you notes are written. Yet your wedding dress still hangs in the closet, carefully cleaned and preserved. You meant to sell it, but you just never got around to it. What options do you have now?
Did you know your wedding dress could help the environment, support the terminally ill, or provide a bride with her dream wedding gown after you are done wearing it? While selling your wedding dress to a new owner is a wonderful way to spread the love and continue the story of your dress, some brides choose to donate their wedding dresses. And there are great places to do that.
Whether you are looking to support a local, national or international charity, would like to find a unique use for your wedding dress (art project, anyone?) or would prefer to provide a dress directly to a bride in less fortunate financial circumstances to help her feel her best, here is a list of opportunities to donate and up cycle your pre-loved wedding gown around the world.
The dress donation opportunities are separated by method of donation and country – local/in-person only and mail-in or in-person donations. In addition to accepting wedding gowns of varying ages, many of these nonprofits will take other wedding items as well: veils, jewelry, shoes and more, including bridesmaids dresses and menswear – even wedding decor and favors in some instances!
That being said, do be sure to check the guidelines for your chosen organization carefully before sending all your wedding goods. It’s very costly for charities to deal with unwanted items, and not all are interested in accepting every last piece of your wedding day. Also be sure that your wedding gown is in good condition, and also fits the age requirements some charities have.
Find a cause you feel great about that not only supports your interests, but lets your wedding gown live on!
- General Donation Opportunities -
Local Charities and Thrift Shops
There are many local thrift shops and charities you might consider first before sending your gown through the mail to a larger organization. Locally we suggest checking with:
- Churches – Contact the local clergy to see if they know of a bride to be in need of a wedding dress, or if they operate a thrift shop
- Goodwill – (Store Locator: United States & Canada)
- Salvation Army – (Store Locator: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia)
- MCC Thrift Shops – (Store Locator: United States, Canada)
- U.K. Charity Shops – Many United Kingdom based charity shops operate bridal salons to handle wedding dress donations (Store Locator: search in the “bridal” category!)
- U.S. Thrift Shops – Here’s a directory of 11,000+ thrift shops in the United States
- St Vincent de Paul – Locations of “Vinnies” in Australia accept wedding gowns
- Brotherhood of St Laurence – This Australian op shop chain accepts wedding gowns (Store Locator)
- Local Schools – Contact a nearby school’s drama department or a college’s photography or theatre department. Your gown may star in any number of theatrical productions, photo shoots or art projects!
- Freecycle It! – Freecycling is a growing global movement to usefully recycle goods that would otherwise end up in landfills. Forums and message boards help connect users giving away and looking for specific items in your local area, and is not just limited to wedding gowns. ReUseIt Network, FreeSharing and Recycling Group Finder offer local groups in many different countries
- In Person Only Donations -
American Kidney Services Atlanta – Donations help support valuable programs initiated by the American Kidney Fund, which is a nonprofit health organization that gives financial assistance to people suffering from chronic kidney disease. Also accepts: wedding decorations, wedding favors, or any other garments and accessories. Dresses may be dropped off at dropboxes in the cities of Atlanta, Dunwoody, Marietta, Chamblee, Norcross and Lawrenceville. Pickups can also be arranged.
The Bridal Garden New York – Donations to this boutique benefit education for New York City’s disadvantaged children. Dresses must be newer than 5 years old. Also accepts: veils, headpieces, and boleros or shawls that accompanied a wedding gown. Dresses may be dropped off at their shop in New York City.
Catherine’s Glass Slipper Project – Donations to this nonprofit organization provides wedding gowns to lend to women who might not otherwise be able to afford a bridal gown. Serves the areas of Sacramento, Stockton, Lodi, and Galt, CA. Also accepts: formal wear, bridesmaids gowns, jewelry and accessories. Dresses may be dropped off at their headquarters in Galt, CA.
National Kidney Services Ohio & North Carolina – Donations to the Ohio and North Carolina chapters of the National Kidney Services benefit the National Kidney Foundation and its programs. Also accepts: bridal accessories, bridesmaids dresses, men’s suits and tuxedos, wedding decor and leftover favors. Dresses may be dropped off at locations and donation bins in North Carolina and Ohio. Local pickups may also be arranged.
refashionNYC – Donations to these bins and drop off points scattered all across New York City are meant to encourage the recycling and reuse of clothing that is otherwise thrown out – up to 200,000 tons a year in the city! Dresses may be dropped off at various shops and bins around New York City.
The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Thrift Shop – Donations to this high end thrift shop and bridal salon benefit patient care, research and education programs at the Center. Dresses may be dropped off at their shop in New York City.
- In Person Only Donations -
United Kingdom & Ireland
Bridal Re-Dress - Donations to this Essex bridal shop support a variety of charities such as the WWF, cancer research and more. Also accepts: wedding accessories: jewelry, hairpieces, etc. Dresses may be mailed (within the UK) and once the gown is sold your postage is reimbursed. Contact the shop before you send your gown.
Cancer Research Wales Bridal Suite - Donations to this organization helps to fund cancer research in Wales. Also accepts: mother-of-the-bride outfits, accessories and bridesmaid dresses. Dresses may be dropped off at their boutique in Cardiff.
Chestnut Tree Wedding Dress Charity Shop - Donations to this wedding dress charity shop in Sussex support hospice care for terminally ill children. Dresses are accepted at Chestnut Tree charity shops across Sussex.
Red Cross - Donations to this bridal charity shop in Surrey support the work of the British Red Cross with conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies globally. Also accepts: wedding accessories, veils, hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, as well as books giving wedding advice and bridal magazines. Wedding gown donations are accepted at all British Red Cross charity shops.
Saint Francis Hospice - Donations to this hospice charity in Greater London support patient care at the hospice. Also accepts: mother of the bride outfits, bridesmaids gowns, wedding hats, fascinators and other bridal accessories. Donations may be made at one of their locations.
St Giles Hospice – Donations to this charity shop’s bridal room support people living with cancer and other serious illnesses, as well as offering support for their families and helpers. Dresses may be dropped off at the a hospice shop or to St Giles’ warehouse.
Society of St Vincent de Paul – Donations to this Dublin, Ireland charity shop go towards benefiting the poor and disadvantaged and supporting social justice. Also accepts: shoes, tiaras as well as bridesmaids and mother of the bride outfits. Dresses may be dropped off at Vincent’s Bridal Wear Shop in Dublin.
Wedding Wishing Well Foundation - Donations to this nonprofit help fund weddings for the terminally ill in England and Wales, as well as provide gowns for brides receiving a Wishing Well Foundation wedding. Also accepts: bridesmaid dresses, suits, mother of the bride outfits and bridal accessories as well as wedding related supplies, props such as table decorations, confetti, centrepieces, chair covers and more. Drop offs may be made at locations of Johnsons Cleaners in England and Wales.
- In Person Only Donations -
South African Princess Project - Donations provide wedding gowns (and prom/graduation dresses) to those less fortunate South African women. Drop offs may be made in Gauteng and Cape Town, South Africa.
Mailing Your Wedding Dress
If you can’t find a suitable donation center near you, you might considering investing in a little postage and mailing your gown to one of the nonprofits below. No matter where they are and where you are, they all accept gowns shipped via the mail if you are willing to pay the postage to that location. All of these organizations also accept in-person donations as well, in case you happen to live near them.
Tips on Mailing Your Wedding Gown
- It is helpful if you have your gown cleaned before you send it, or if you provide a donation to help clean the gown
- If you require a tax receipt, include self addressed, stamped envelope for the nonprofit to mail one to you
- Remove the gown from preservation or storage box and slim down the package as much as possible. Often shipping is calculated by both weight and dimensions of the package
- You might consider attaching a note for the lucky new owner sharing a personal story about your wedding dress or wedding day
- Mailed or In Person Donations -
Adorned in Grace - Donations benefit Compassion Connect based in Portland, OR., which raises awareness about the problem of human trafficking, funds outreach events and training for the prevention of human trafficking, and provides support for rescued victims of sexual exploitation in the area. Also accepts: formals, petticoats, veils, accessories, and other wedding items. Dresses may be mailed to or dropped off at the Adorned in Grace boutique in Portland, OR.
Brides Across America - Donations to this nonprofit provides wedding gowns to military brides in need. Dresses must be newer than 5 years old. Also accepts: veils, tiaras and accessories. They do not accept petticoats or undergarments. You must contact BAA for donation approval of your gown before you ship it to their offices!
Brides Against Breast Cancer - Donations to this nonprofit organization are put up for sale in a “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” from which sales benefit programs for cancer patients and their families. Dresses must be newer than 5 years old. Also accepts: veils and slips. Dresses may be mailed to the BABC headquarters in Sarasota, FL.
Brides for a Cause - Donations benefit Wish Upon a Wedding, a nonprofit organization dedicated to granting weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering situations. Dresses must be newer than 8 years old. Also accepts: veils, tiaras, headpieces, sashes and slips. Donations may be mailed to or dropped off at the Brides for a Cause headquarters in Portland, OR.
Brides for Haiti - Donations to St Joseph’s Parish in Carcasse, Haiti serve two purposes: dress resales benefit Haitian charities and also provide baby burial gowns. Dresses must be newer than 7 years old, or over 30 years old (vintage). Dresses may be mailed to a volunteer in Poolesville, MD.
The Bride’s Project (US) - Donations help support families touched by cancer seeking help from the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. Dresses must be newer than 8 years old. Dresses may be mailed to or dropped off at The Bride’s Project headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI.
Every Girls Dream – Donations to this nonprofit provide wedding gowns to brides undergoing financial hardship in the Southeast Michigan area. Their mission is to make every girl’s dream come true! Dresses must be newer than 15 years old. Also accepts: Petticoats, veils, flower girl dresses, bridesmaids gowns, mother of the bride dresses, shoes, tiaras, gloves, and tuxedos. Donations may be mailed or dropped off at EGD’s office in Eastpointe, MI.
Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring - Donations to this nonprofit bridal boutique serving the Washington, D.C. metro area provide reduced price bridal gowns and accessories for underprivileged women while contributing to other nonprofit charities in the area, including the Victims Rights Foundation. The boutique also provides opportunities for local high school students to learn about the fashion industry and gain retail work experience. Dresses must be newer than 8 years old. Also accepts: veils, headpieces, jewelry, sashes, shoes, and boleros or shawls. Donations may be mailed or dropped off at the Fairytale Brides boutique in Rockville, MD.
Mary Madeline Project - This nonprofit organization in Nebraska refashions bridal gowns into blankets and baby burial outfits which are then donated to hospitals around the United States to bereaved parents. Although they are currently not accepting gowns due to a lack of seamstresses, you might check back at a later date to donate to this cause.
St Anthony’s Bridal - Donations to this nonprofit organization provide a wedding gown to qualified brides who are on a budget of $3,000 or less. Also accepts: veils, crinolines, bridal shoes, boleros, wraps, tiaras, gloves, and bridal jewelry. Dresses may be mailed to or dropped off at St Anthony’s Bridal in Mitchellville, MD.
The Wedding Dress Project - Donations to The Wedding Dress Project provide an artful way to help victims of domestic violence cope, help teens envision and engage in dialogue about what healthy relationships look like and help participants learn to recognize the warning signs of domestic abuse. The project engages the community in a variety of ways, most notably through wedding dress “deconstruction workshops.” Also accepts: tuxedos, prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses and art supplies. Dresses may be mailed or dropped off to The Wedding Dress Project office in Greensboro, NC. Local pickups can also be arranged.
- Mailed or In Person Donations -
The Brides’ Project (Canada) – Donations to this nonprofit serves two very important purposes: to provide brides with the things she needs for a beautiful wedding within her budget, and to support cancer charities. Dresses must be newer than 5 years old. Dresses may be mailed to or dropped off at the headquarters in Toronto, ON.
The Princess Shop - Donations to this nonprofit program provides gowns and accessories to lend to women in need. Dresses must be newer than 5 years old. Also accepts: bridesmaid and evening gowns as well as purses/handbags, shoes and jewelry. Dresses may be mailed to or dropped off at the headquarters in Saskatoon, SK. There are also other donation spots around Saskatoon and in Lloydminster, SK.
We all realize the importance of doing things to protect our planet. Even small acts can really make a difference. And your wedding day is no exception.
Did you know that the average wedding emits 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide? (The average person emits 17.1 tons in a year). Why not work to reduce your wedding’s footprint, no matter how “green” a bride you consider yourself to be.
Consider these eco-friendly ideas:
1) Stay local. The fewer guests that have to travel to your wedding (especially by airplane) the less impact it will have. Hold your wedding where the majority of your guests live.
2) Reduce transportation needs. Hold your ceremony and reception in the same place. Think about hiring a bus or trolley to transport your guests so they won’t need to use individual cars.
3) Choose a venue that recycles. You’d be surprised to learn that not all venues do. Be sure to ask before booking. If your venue doesn’t recycle, ask them to develop a plan for your wedding.
4) Select eco-friendly invitations and create a wedding website to tell your guests everything else. How beautiful are these invitations from Bella Figura (a wind-powered, carbon neutral letterpress shop).
5) Use flowers grown locally. This will eliminate costly air transportation for your blooms. And will prevent using flowers that may have been grown with toxic chemicals and pesticides.
6) Give eco-friendly favors: If you are giving favors, it is easy to find delightful eco friendly options. Just take a peek at these adorable gifts from Favor Creative.
7) Wear a PreOwned Wedding Dress. (Of course this one is our favorite!) But seriously, buying a gown that is PreOwned, or selling your new dress after you wear it, means that a beautiful wedding dress will be “recycled” and enjoyed by another bride. And that is a much better option than tucking it away in a closet for years.
Have a tip on greening your wedding? Please tell us and share your savvy.
Looking for a stylish way to express eco-conscious values at your wedding? For those of us who are green at heart, the creative minds at Night Owl Paper Goods offer the “Wood Wedding Collection.” These unique wedding invitations are inspired by nature, and custom printed on eco-friendly wood. You’ll feel good about sending these adorable invites to friends and family knowing they are derived from sustainably harvested birch. For me, the designs feel retro and modern at the same time. Here are a few of my favorites…
I love the subtle style of both the Rosette (shown [L] in Scarlet) and the Zinnia (shown [R] in Lavendar). The unique color choices and designs make these invites stand out from the traditional crowd. Complement your invite style by adding save-the-dates, reply cards and place cards in the same pattern.
The Treetops save-the-date card (above) has a whimsical and modern design. The soft greens and browns look lovely against the birch wood background. Another bonus? These save-the-date cards are actually postcards — saving you money on postage while saving our resources.
Everything these design darlings do is fabulous, so I couldn’t help but share some of their other lovely offerings as well. They offer a full line of chic letterpress cards, stationary & invitations, as well as a lovely selection of gifts, all produced using environmentally friendly practices. Fill the cute wooden letter holder with personalized stationary for a thoughtful bridesmaid’s gift. Or, give the adorable and functional tote bags (filled with yummy goodies) to out of town guests as a welcome gift.
Visit Night Owl Paper Goods to experience their amazing designs, and feel good about supporting a retailer who cares about our environment. You’ll be glad you did!
If you’re looking for a fresh face in the world of eco-friendly invites, here’s one with loads of style. I have absolutely fallen head over heels in love with the clean and modern designs of Up Up Creative. These fabulous invites make me want to get married all over again! Julie Green founded Up Up Creative (she’s the illustrator, designer and owner) after the birth of her son, when she yearned for a creative outlet. Committed to eco-friendly practices, all Up Up products are printed using FSC certified carbon neutral paper which is 80% post-consumer content. But don’t just love them because they’re green…fabulous design comes first, just check out some of my favorites below…
Julie’s color schemes are bold and playful, but never overstated. The oranges, pinks, soft browns and blues look original and stand out in a sea of traditional wedding invites. You can really make a statement with her one-of-a-kind designs, like the Stamen (above, right).
She offers a full range of invites, save-the-date cards, place cards, RSVPs thank you notes and more. The Big Zin (above) is another great design. I love the look of the classic font matched with bold pink color and the large floral design.
Julie is 100% committed to making each bride a happy one, and will work with couples until they get the exact product they desire. Her talent for quirky, charming phrasing is a real asset, and allows you to make your invite as personal as you like. She also offers a downloadable DIY option, which can make things super budget friendly. So if you’re looking to save the Earth and celebrate modern style, make sure to visit Up Up Creative to find your perfect wedding invites!