To Have and To Hold ~ Will You Treasure Your Wedding Dress Forever?

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The zip was stiff, but as my Mum slowly fastened her old wedding dress, it was obvious it fit me perfectly. I ran my hands over the crisp white cotton and felt a chill run down my spine. It was strange to think we were exactly the same size, my 23 year old mother and I. I could almost feel the history in the fabric, the memories contained in every crease.

My mother's wedding dress was always there growing up, encased in a flimsy garment bag at the back of her wardrobe. Her floral circlet and veil hung jauntily from the crook of the wire coat hanger, the petals' of each bloom dulled by dust and time. It wasn't an expensive dress, not by today's standards. I relished any opportunity to hear the story of its discovery in a shop on London's famous Kings Road in the late 70s. Having obediently browsed countless boutiques, Mum finally went back to the first shop she had visited and paid £80 for her Mexican wedding dress.


Franky's mum in her wedding dress

As I gazed at my reflection in her bedroom mirror that day, we both knew I wouldn't wear the dress for my own nuptials, but it felt like we had completed an important rite of passage together. Padding around her room in my bare feet, pretending to walk down an imaginary aisle, remains one of my fondest memories from the period leading up to our wedding.

Perhaps this explains why selling my own wedding dress never crossed my mind. With a disposition that naturally leans towards sentimentality, I imagined myself, years from now, unpacking the gown to play dress-up with my daughter, before I'd even worn it myself. Two years on from saying 'I do', I can't even bring myself to part with the dirt and debris it acquired on the day. To my mind, its muddy train tells of our first moments as husband and wife, walking among the grounds of Heatherden Hall, full of more joy than I thought possible. See, I told you I was sentimental. 

My personal propensity towards extreme nostalgia aside, the reality of planning and paying for a wedding means more and more brides are unable to consider keeping the dress beyond their wedding day. Expensive purchases are budgeted for on the basis of their re-sale value and the decision to sell post-wedding is often made before a bride's first fitting. 

While I acknowledge the escalating costs involved, I can't help but feel a little saddened by the movement towards shedding the sartorial trappings of a wedding at the first available opportunity. I suppose I see them as an important part of history, something tangible to keep hold of in a world increasingly defined by the transient and disposable.   

Perhaps I'm being silly though. What's the point of a fabulous frock, holed up in the attic gathering dust? Maybe it should live on to shine another day?

Do you plan to sell or pass on your wedding dress after it's had its day in the limelight? Or are you a sentimental old fool like me who intends to treasure it forever, till death do us part?

Much love,



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63 thoughts on “To Have and To Hold ~ Will You Treasure Your Wedding Dress Forever?

  1. After 23 years my wedding dress is in the loft. My children have used it for dressing up and I can’t bear the thought if throwing it away. I’m sure it wouldn’t be worth much it was only £150 New!

  2. I’m wearing a coloured wedding dress (it’s all mad colours and prints). This is partly because I’m getting married for the second time, but mainly because I’ll be able to wear it again whenever I like, for anniversaries or Just Because. My proto-husband is going to wear a tweed suit, so he’ll be able to do the same. I love that we’ll be able to re-create a little part of the day whenever we like.

  3. I was entirely unsentimental about mine. I bought it second hand on eBay for £500 and sold it on eBay for £400 a few weeks after the wedding.
    I am not a terribly sentimental person when it comes to things in general though. Except for photographs. now they’re a diffent thing all together.

  4. Similar to Laura I resold mine after the wedding and it helped pay for a good chunk of honeymoon accommodation so I like to think it lived on through that. Occasionally I feel a teeny bit sad that I might never wear anything as beautiful again.
    I come from quite an unsentimental family (unlike my husband), my Mum wore a coral skirt suit for her registry office marriage to my Dad, and I guessed she passed that practicality onto me.

  5. I am giving mine to the amazing Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, run by Naomi Thomas. Here is some information about this talented, generous, amazing women.
    I you know nothing about Naomi or the Charity – pop here, get a cuppa and seriously a box of tissues… her story is wonderful.
    Tasha x

  6. Great feature Franky. I’m genuinely sad to say, I sold my dress. My financial status at the time wasn’t brilliant and I felt that selling it after my wedding, was the only way back then that I could justify being able to afford my £2.5k Jenny Packham dress.
    But, I very much regret selling it now and wish I hadn’t have had to. I would have dearly loved to have kept on to it and passed it down to my children, especially as my wedding went on to change my life in so many ways, through Love My Dress etc.

  7. I was very lucky and bought my dress for a knock-down price because it had sleeves and they just hadn’t been able to sell it for years. So, I don’t have the financial urge to sell it – at the moment. I have to say that I’m not in love with it. ‘The dress’ is not my main priority (though I would like to love it and I do like dressing up!)and my main saving has been for the photography.
    I won’t be having any children and with some adjustments, I might be able to wear it again. Now, if only it could be successfully dyed, I’d definitely wear it again, and again.
    I wouldn’t have said I was particularly sentimental BUT I do have my mum’s w. dress in my wardrobe – she had it adjusted and shortened and wore it for my christening! She died many years ago, so seeing her dress when I look in my wardrobe, her wedding photos and my christening photos mean a lot to me.

  8. I’m going to hire out my dress a couple of times as it was very expensive and not every bride can afford their dream dress but hiring is a good alternative. I’ll keep it for my daughter then

  9. Mine’s going to go in the dressing up box, as my Mum’s did for me. I’m keeping the shoes, I’ve worn them again and and again xx

  10. Before I got married I assumed I would dry clean the dress and then sell it or keep it. Instead I didn’t take it to the dry cleaners, it’s not for everybody, but I left every little mark from the day on it, so it has a few grass stains around the bottom and such and it’s such a lovely reminder of the day x

  11. The dress I chose for my wedding was vintage and although it had a cream background it was covered in coloured flowers and wasn’t full length. I bought it because it seemed right for me and on the day I received lots of compliments and, like all other brides, felt just great in it. It occured to me that I could wear it again and without the headress and flowers I have. I love wearing it because, whilst it no longer looks like a wedding dress I remember the day all over again and feel special when I have it on.

  12. I’m very happy with the fact that I sold my wedding dress – not only did the proceeds pay for a wonderful celebration for a later life event, but it also meant that another bride could wear the dress she wanted at a price she could afford. I encountered quite a lot of negativity when I said I was selling my dress, as if it meant that the wedding day didn’t mean that much to me. In fact, when I think back to my wedding day I barely even consider the dress (lovely as it was), but instead remember the joy of the day, the love I felt for my husband and the fun I had with my friends and family.

  13. The thought of having to sell my dress would be just too painful for me. I absolutely love it, and it’s the nicest and most expensive item of clothing I’ll ever own!! I got my dress from the VWDC, and it has a satin slip with lace overlay, I had thought about dying the dress so I could wear it again, but I’m not sure I could bring myself to do that either!! We just need to create an event where it’s socially acceptable to turn up in your wedding dress!!

  14. I think it’s a lot of pressure if you do keep your gown for your little girl, and who knows, you may have all boys, or none at all!so maybe you shouldn’t tell them you have it unless they ask when the time comes…my mum gave hers to Barnardos and it always makes me smile knowing what a kick a** and charitable a woman she is!

  15. oh, and I’ll be selling mine and getting something lovely with it for us both. it’s not that it cost a bomb or that I need the money, I just feel sad thinking about it sat in a box in the attic feeling a little unloved and unworn!

  16. Half of my wants to keep it and dye it so I can wear it again. The other half of me wants it to go to charity so someone who can’t afford a new dress can have a nice dress anyway, and a good cause will get some dosh.
    No idea which I’ll go for in the end though!

  17. I’m getting married in July and am keeping mine. I’d rather spend less on the completely transient items (favours – not having, cake – homemade, shoes – blue satin sale bargain) and have an heirloom that will hopefully bring back memories and be shared by children and grandchildren for ever. I am not nostalgic as a rule and hate clutter but modern heirlooms can be quite rare and my dress will become a very tangible part of my life story.

  18. I never even considered selling mine. We’re getting married in August this year and I don’t want to sell it afterwards.
    My mum hired her dress when they got married early in the 80’s and I’m gutted I can’t try her dress because it was beautiful. Mum paid R80 (South African Rands) to hire hers because they didn’t have a big budget to work with. I am definitely keeping mine just in case my daughter/prospective daughter-in-law/niece/cousin’s kids can try it on when they get engaged….

  19. We were married 10 years ago and I kept my dress – it is wrapped up well in the attic! My Mum made my dress and although it was absolutely beautiful and made of silk, I don’t think it would have fetched much if I had wanted to sell it. It was very simple and I had plans to shorten it and maybe dye it to make it into a useable formal dress. Reading your blog has reminded me – maybe I will go and get it out later!

  20. I purchased an expensive dress that I’m not fond of because my mom and bridesmaid likes it and it suited me and was traditional and classic and princess like … I wanted something else but did not dare…
    I’m getting married in July and I know already I’ll be selling mine. I’m very sentimental but this dress is not me and I have no special feeling for it. I’m currently consdiering making my own lacy, short, modern look dress for the civil ceremony and if I do, surely I’ll keep this one forever!
    If I make it happen (and I’m more and more seriously thinking about it) either I’ll make it possible to over dye it or if not possible I’ll keep it for my children or nieces. My mom kept hers and as a child I remember loving looking at it and touching it – thougb we were never allowed to try it on!

  21. I think that it’s a shame that wedding dresses are stored away after their big day.
    I tried my mum’s dress on and used this as a base for one that was made for me, but to actually have worn hers – and have it altered and styles for me – would have been more than having a custom-one made.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a second hand dress for your wedding day. I like to think they are much-loved rather than pre-loved.
    And of course if you get a designer gown for a bargain price it just means that you can spend more on your honeymoon.

  22. I couldn’t bare the thought of having to sell my dress- I absolutely love it and loved wearing it!! I had a designer dress but managed to buy it second hand off ebay for a really good price. If the first bride hadn’t sold it to me then I never would of been able to wear the dress of my dreams- which would of been a shame. However I’m not as good as her to part with it. I would love to wear it again, and have thought about dying it, but I’m too scared it would get ruined! I need to find an occasion where it is socially acceptable to wear a wedding dress-apart from your own wedding!!

  23. I don’t think I could ever part with my wedding dress. It holds far too much sentiment, more than any amount of money. It has beautiful fabric roses and I had an extra lace overlay added-it is gorgeous. When all my friends have got married I always think down the line it would be nice to have a party where we all the guys and girls get together and wear our wedding attire again. Something to look forward to!

  24. I don’t think I could ever part with my dress. It holds far too much sentiment, more than any amount of money. It has gorgeous fabric roses and I had a lace overlay added. I always think it would be nice to have a wedding party and get all our married friends together to wear our wedding attire again. Something to look forward to!

  25. I made my mine, boned bodice with beading and long skirt with the train as part of the skirt. Don’t know what to do with it! It’s been wrapped up for 12 years. I thought of using the material from the skirt, pale gold dupion silk, to make something else. And maybe altering the top slightly and wearing it out in the evening…. It holds no sentimental value as I’ve now left my husband and we didn’t have children…..:-(

  26. Great discussion! I’ve ended up spending over twice my budget on my dress (and this is at a time when we don’t have much money and have just bought our first house – eek). But all my instincts tell me it’s right, and that I’ll treasure it forever. Reading about your regrets reinforces that Annabel, so sad you had to part with your gown. My dress is pale gold lace, so I might consider having the length taken up so I can wear it again. We’ll see…

  27. Bizarrely I inquired into buying your dress Annabel, I remember reading all the extra detail on the listing on your accessories, shoes and hair and being hugely influenced for my own nuptials. I went on to buy my dress new after falling head over heels and massively busting the wedding dress budget, in the back of my mind I kept saying ‘I will sell it’ and make some of the money. Two years down the line I opened my dress bag to discover horrendous brown stains all down the beautiful lace, I was distraught and so upset my most beautiful, treasured dress looked a shadow of its former self. I actually contacted LMD and Franky suggested a wedding dress cleaner based in London who were fabulous and restored my dress to its former glory and returned it to me beautifully boxed and presented. I knew after all this trauma I could never let my dress go and then last August I was blessed with a daughter, Camille, for whom I shall save my beautiful dress even if she just chooses to dress up in it. In a funny way you both played a part in the story of my dress and for that I thank you x x x

  28. That’s lovely, I feel the same about my shoes, bag and even my red lippy! It’s so nice being able to carry a little part of the day with you into everyday married life.

  29. There’s nothing wrong with being practical Ellie! And I bet you have some amazing memories from your honeymoon that you’ll treasure forever.

  30. I totally agree Laura, selling the dress isn’t a reflection of what the day meant to you at all. I love that you’re created other memeories with the funds from the sale too.

  31. I suppose it could be a pressure, although I know my Mum didn’t feel strongly about me wearing it at all.
    I will add that we also had my paternal grandmother’s wedding dress on display at the wedding itself, so there are ways to incorporate the garment without it having to be worn. If someone has sons, it might be nice to incorporate some of the fabric in an alternative way for example. Or the dress could be turned into a Christening gown to create a new heirloom.

  32. This is just so lovely to hear Cath, I remember your email so well. I was desperate for you to fix your dress so I’m thrilled the tale has a happy ending!
    Congratulations on the birth of your little girl. Whether she wears your dress or another, I’m sure she will love seeing what her mummy was married in!

  33. My parents were divorced, but it never tainted the dress for me. It’s still a piece of my history. It’s quite special that you made your dress, it would be wonderful if you find a way for it to live on in some way. The silk sounds stunning!

  34. That’s a brilliant idea! If this discussion post has taught me anything it’s that there should be more excuses to wear your wedding dress again. Let’s make it happen!

  35. My wedding dress is still in my wardrobe because a) I’m too lazy to have done anything else with it and b) I don’t think there’d be many takers for a dress that had to be altered for my ridiculous dimensions. I imagine it will stay there for eons to come.
    Funnily enough, I did feel a stab of regret at reading this as my Mum got married whilst 6 months pregnant in 1981, meaning she wore a big brown kaftan. She looked, for want of a better description, like a giant poo, and obviously didn’t keep it. I’m a bit sad she didn’t get to have a proper wedding dress that I could play with or that we could bond over. It also, apparently, meant she had some *very* strange views on wedding dresses when it came to finding mine…

  36. I got married last august and my wedding dress is currently dirty and hanging in our spare room. My intention is to get it clean and boxed nicely at some point this year. There’s no way I can bear to part with my dress. I actually bought my dress through the pre loved sight so saved a lot of money and partly due to this I dont feel the need to sell it on.
    Franky, I can totally relate to your sentimentality as one of the main reasons I want to keep my dress is so that I will be able to show it to future children/ grandchildren. I have also kept my bridal hairband, shoes and handbag as well as drying some of the flowers from my bouquet.

  37. I bought my dress from the wonderful Jane Bourvis (who, for fellow Sherlock fans, designed Mary Watson’s wedding dress). It isn’t white – more of a champagne colour, but she layers antique fabrics (mine is an Edwardian veil) over silk slips. So when the confetti has been thrown and the day is over I can wear it again over a different colour slip. I agree with what Franky and several other ladies have said – that trying on my Mam’s gorgeous lace wedding dress when I was first engaged is one of the most beautiful memories I have.
    I can understand why girls want to splash out on a wedding dress, but really, you can buy beautiful dresses for much less. My friend bought hers from a charity shop and had a dressmaker transform it; it remains one of the most beautiful wedding dresses I’ve seen. And how lovely to hold on to a dress with so much hope and happiness attached to it.
    Besides, I’m all for bringing back the idea of a trousseau…why spend all the money on one outfit when you can have a chest full?! x

  38. My mum used her wedding dress to make mine and my sisters christening gowns – I love the fact that the dress has been passed through generations and will continue to if I have children.

  39. How lovely Cath! I’m so glad Franky was able to advise you.
    The same happened with my Jenny Packham dress – it looked pretty untidy after the wedding – posing in the gardens for photography meant it had soil and grass marks and hugging all those guests and my new husband meant all the beading and embellishment around the bust had snagged and detail had fallen away. The professional dry-cleaners I used however did an absolutely superb job.
    One thing I will say, is that anyone who is considering using a professional wedding dress cleaner ought send their dress off ASAP after the wedding. The longer stains are left, the harer they are to get out.
    Such a lovely reply Cath – thank you XX

  40. I still have my real flowers bouquet – obviously very dried and slightly faded flowers now, but I LOVE that I still have it. Makes me a bit sad that I don’t still have my dress.

  41. Ooooh, did she design that dress? I don’t watch Sherlock ( I really must, everyone says it’s wonderful) but I had so many messages on Twitter that night saying the bride reminded them of me! hehe! 🙂 I adore Jane Bourvis designs, she’s one talented lady!
    “And how lovely to hold on to a dress with so much hope and happiness attached to it.” I just love this sentiment Sarah.
    And YES! Bring back the trousseau! We blogged about the trousseau here:-

  42. Thank you so much for your comments Kate. I am a firm believer in that your instincts and intuition are usually always right – so I’m happy to hear you got the dress and you really must treasure it forever. Get it boxed, pop other precious items in the box too, a photograph of you in the dress, some notes whilst fresh in your head of your memories of putting it on and wearing it on your wedding day perhaps?
    Lots of love, Annabel xx

  43. Oh you should Julia! I’ve sat here this Saturday afternoon and caught up with all the replies here, and I have to say, I feel sad that I can’t go get my dress out now and show it to my girls. It does make me however treasure the other memorabilia that I do have from our wedding day – I still have my bouquet, my shoes, the perfum and all the little special getting ready bits that I put in to a box for the day – those things mean so much to me to still have them and it evokes so many beautiful memories being able to see, smell and touch them. I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be to still have the dress XX

  44. Dear Aurélie,
    I am sad that you have to wear a dress that doesn’t feel like you, is it not too late to get a dress you do love – though if it is, I strongly encourage yo to make your own, as you suggest, you must my love – it will make you happy and feel so much better!
    I would love to hear back from you – please keep in touch,
    Annabel xxx

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