The new eco-friendly trend for renting rather than buying a wedding dress is catching on. But what can you do if you’re already married and still have your wedding dress?
A wedding dress is usually not a small item. It takes up a fair amount of space, especially the puffy white meringue style of gown. And yet many women keep their wedding dress for years, tucked away at the back of their closet or boxed up in the attic, basement, or garage. It serves no useful purpose. It’s just there. Is it clutter or not? This is a topic that often comes up in my online clutter clearing courses.
Why women keep their wedding dress
It’s not like anyone will ever wear a wedding dress again. There’s not going to be an emergency situation where a woman suddenly needs to get married and can say, ‘Ah, I knew that would come in useful someday.’ If she ever remarries, she won’t want to wear the same dress as last time, and if she’s had it for some years, it may not even fit her anymore.
Some women keep their wedding dress fondly thinking they will someday pass it on to their daughter. This might have worked a few generations ago, but fashions change quickly now and most young brides will surely want to choose their own style. Sellers of pre-worn wedding dresses generally deem them to be out of date within five years.
Some women tell me they keep their dress as a lovely reminder of the day they got married. But there are usually many photos of the happy day that do this job just as well without taking up so much space in the home. It’s really not necessary to keep the actual garment.
My experience of working with clients is that there’s usually more to holding on to a wedding dress than meets the eye, and the reasons for it only become apparent if you dig a little deeper.
What a wedding dress symbolizes
One woman told me, ‘For years I thought that letting go of my wedding dress would be like throwing my marriage away. But I sold it, and guess what? I found out it was only a dress and my marriage not only survived but thrived!’
Another woman told me she had stored her wedding dress for 24 years in the basement of her parent’s home. She’d been married for 18 of those years and then separated for 6 years before it occurred to her that it had become clutter in her own life and her parents’ lives. Getting divorced to allow her ex to remarry was the final clincher. She was ready to let the dress go.
She first tried to sell it but gave up after a few months and donated it to a charity that was grateful to receive it. During the letting-go process, she came to terms with what the dress had symbolized for her. ‘I remembered all the details of its purchase,’ she said, ‘and how I settled on it as a means of pleasing both my mom (who was paying) and my hubby-to-be (who liked things custom-made).’ She realized the wedding dress was all about how she used to try to please other people rather than make her own choices. Truthfully, she didn’t even like the dress very much. Becoming conscious of this made it obvious that she needed and wanted to let it go and move on.
Why a wedding dress becomes clutter the day after it is worn
Clutter is only ever a symptom of an underlying issue, and wedding dress clutter is no exception.
One divorced woman confided in me that the reason she had kept her wedding gown was because it was tangible proof that someone had once loved her enough to marry her. If she ever felt too lonely or down, she could reach out and touch it and feel reassured.
Another kept hers because it reminded her of how much she had loved her husband when she first met him, before he turned into the grumpy, work-obsessed man he became.
In both cases, when asked if they’d rather have a man in their life they could truly love rather than a dress to remember love by, they both said they’d let the dress go in a heartbeat. But, as I pointed out, it generally works the other way around. To make room for something better in the present, you first have to let go of the past. And that’s what they did.
The last I heard, the first woman had found a new man and the second was still with her grumpy husband but making plans to leave. Neither has missed the dress for a minute. They both saw how keeping it had been keeping them locked in the past and was holding them back. They were ready to move on.
How to let go of a wedding dress
Selling or donating a wedding dress has never been easier, with many options now available. Search for “sell wedding dress” or “donate wedding dress” to find organizations in your part of the world that can help.
How to never buy a wedding dress
If you’re planning to get married soon, search for “rent a wedding dress” to find what options are open to you. You’ll save a lot of money that way, be able to rent a dress that is more beautiful than you may have been able to afford if you were buying, and it will make your wedding much more environmentally friendly. Best of all, you won’t have wedding dress clutter taking up space in your wardrobe for years of your life to come!
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2023
Photograph your sentimental clutter and let it go
Related online course
Declutter Your Clothes
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