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Repurposing Your Wedding Dress

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Repurposing Your Wedding Dress

I asked Bethany to share her fabulous story of repurposing her wedding dress into a wardrobe staple she enjoys often. Bethany’s wedding gown was one of the affordable dresses I mentioned in a post earlier this week. And while J.Crew offers a shortened version of the dress for sale, Bethany was able to get hers altered for a fraction of the price. Congrats to this budget bride on being frugal even after the wedding – and on five years of marriage!

Bride & Groom: Bethany & Ted Rydmark

Wedding Date: July 1, 2006

Dress: “Sophia” by J. Crew

Pre-Wedding Cost: $117.00 to purchase and ship

Post-Wedding Cost: $30 seamstress fees

My Wedding-Gown-Turned-Date-Night-Dress

This busy month, I am looking toward July 1st on the calendar. Ted and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary, and while I haven’t finished making plans for our night on the town, or booked reservations, or caught up with my to-do list, it’s oh-so-comforting to have my outfit ready and waiting.

You see, I chopped my wedding dress off at the knees and now it’s a favorite go-to cocktail dress.

Five springs ago, my college capstone project loomed heavy overhead and my sparkling engagement ring daily reminded me of the wedding planning to-dos not receiving my full attention. My one consolation: I’d accomplished an amazing stunt just a few months earlier. My wedding dress was chosen, purchased, and ready to go, for less than the price of a pair of designer shoes.

Fitting for a student earning a degree in landscape architecture, I planned an outdoor wedding on my parents’ farm. When it came to selecting a dress, my outdoor wedding afforded great options for beauty and thrift (unlike the overbearing $4000 ball gown that I’d worn at a bridal fashion show during my junior year). The setting of green, green grass, acres of tree fields and showy Mt. Hood smiling down from the eastern horizon meant that nature provided the bells and whistles, and I could come simply wearing white.

My brand new dress came J.Crew via eBay for a sum total of $117.00 (shipping costs included).

Easy fit, easy on the pocketbook, easy to wear on the wedding day itself, and incredibly easy for post-wedding care.

None of the shrink wrapped, vacuum packed, or bulky garment bag treatment for me. Instead, my seamstress friend charged me $35 to cut away the excess fabric and re-hem the skirt. Viola! My own version of the same J.Crew short length dress that sells for $185!)

White, easy to accessorize, and super comfy, I’ve worn my dress to the opera, to dinner, to parties (to dinner-parties!)…and I plan to easily keep rocking it for the next five years, including my hot date on July 1st.

Ideas for Repurposing A Wedding Dress

Though my simple dress was an easy edit, more ornate dresses can also be updated to serve newfound purposes at the front of the wardrobe.

Skirts & Dresses
  • Remove the bodice and reshape the skirt
  • Remove sleeve and/or skirt length to create an airy dress
  • Dye the fabric a new favorite shade for non-white dressing
  • Use excess trimmed fabric for a scarf or wrap (depending on the material)
  • Dye and use the beaded and embellished portions of fabric and sew together a beautiful carry-all bag.

Tips for Taking the Plunge

Before you dismiss the option to dismantle, cut up, dye, or otherwise alter your pristine dress, ask yourself:

  • Why not?
  • Want a memento from your beautiful day? That’s why you have pictures of yourself as a bride in a beautiful dress!
  • Want to respect the amount of money you spent on such a special outfit? Make it earn its keep by turning it into something useable on a more frequent than once-in-a-lifetime basis.
  • Want to share this dress with your future daughter? Styles change! Are you willing to let your dress take up closet space (not to mention preservation costs!), on the off chance that your little one will one day be excited to wear your outdated frock? Instead, turn it into something wearable for the next 20 years. Besides, your daughter may want to borrow your hip skirt or classy scarf or cute sundress long before she decides to walk down the aisle. Of course, there may come a day where you’ll need a classy mother-of-the-bride outfit…

What are you waiting for? Whip out those scissors. Call your seamstress friend. Get creative. And then book yourself a date with the Mister and wear your latest outfit with pride …

Did you repurpose your wedding dress? Tell us about it!

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