When I got divorced a few years ago, I found myself not knowing what to do with my wedding gown. I didn’t care to hang onto it for sentimental reasons, but at the same time, I would have felt guilty if I had just left it behind when I moved out. I got married when I was 22 and my parents bought the dress, so even so many years later, I guess I would have felt like I was wasting their money.
I wanted to do something useful with the dress, and the most obvious thing to do seemed like reselling it or consigning it. The only problem was, most of the consignment shops I contacted were very particular about the dresses they would accept. Dresses had to be cleaned and free from damage. They also had to still be considered “in style,” obviously, to have a chance of being resold. Trying to sell the dress became a bit of a hassle.
When I moved from Florida to Washington DC, my parents got stuck with the dress. It took up a lot of room, but still, my mom kept it for a few years, moving it from the guest bedroom closet, to the garage, to yet another closet in the house, trying to find a place where it was kept safe, but still out of the way.
A few years later, I was remarried with a baby on the way. My mom called one night to let me know that she had finally found someone who would take my dress. I was thrilled. I didn’t care who it was – I was just glad that the thing would finally stop taking up space at my parent’s house!
Then my mom told me that there was an organization, Angel Gowns, that would turn wedding dresses into tiny burial gowns for people that lose a baby. I was immediately stunned to learn that such an organization existed. How wonderful that there was something like this to help families in need. How awful to think that there are so many families who would really need something like that.
She asked if it would be okay for her to donate the dress to Angel Gowns of Florida. Of course. I was so glad that my dress would have a purpose. I was glad that it would end up meaning something.
She had the dress cleaned and sent it to the nearest Angel Gowns group. Within weeks, the volunteer seamstresses had deconstructed the dress, cut it apart, and began using it to make several small baby gowns. The seamstresses even used the shawl that came with my dress to make a tiny preemie gown. When the first gown was completed, the group posted photos to their Facebook page to show the wedding dress and the finished results.
I looked at what my old wedding dress had become. The baby gown they posted was so tiny, and so beautiful. I couldn’t help crying as I looked at the pictures. I was able to hold my healthy newborn baby in my arms, but sadly, someone, somewhere, would be using that tiny little gown to lay their little one to rest.
You can visit NICU Helping Hands to learn more about the Angel Gowns program. Due to overwhelming donations and generosity, the group operates in limited donation cycles to allow time for the gowns to be processed, and if necessary, shipped to other parts of the country to be used. You can check the website to see if an Angel Gowns chapter is accepting wedding dress donations in your area, or you can register as a seamstress or send a cash donation as well.
If your wedding dress is just hanging around and taking up space in your closet, please consider donating it to this worthy cause.