The married woman’s dilemma

The buyer’s inspector comes tomorrow to pick apart our house. It is the last potential hiccup in the unbelievably rapid sale of our home. The clock is ticking and there is a rush to get rid of everything we are not taking with us. We’ve been whittling down our stuff for months and now we are down to the really hard choices.

This post is about my hardest choice: my wedding dress.

We got married five years ago and it was one of the worst days of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the partner I chose and I’m glad we are wed but our wedding day was one of the most stressful, frustrating days I’ve ever experienced. If I had it all to do again, we would elope and there would be no big, white dress.

Yet, I have kept this dress for five years. It has never come out of the bag it was stored in since the wedding. It just sits in a closet, taking up plenty of space.

We said some year for our anniversary we will put on our wedding attire and go out as if we’d just gotten married just for fun.

We’ve never done that.

I said I would cut it up and use the fabric for pillows and curtains.

But I can’t cut it up. It’s a wedding dress. Those things are sacred.

All of the women I know that kept their wedding dresses (99% of the women I know) said they kept them because they paid big bucks to clean, preserve and vacuum seal it so that one day their daughter(s) could have it. I asked the grown daughters I knew if they wanted their mother’s dress and they ALL said no (it was old fashioned or too small or they wanted one they could pick for themselves). Not one of my friends wore her mother’s wedding dress when they got married. Now they are holding onto their dresses for their daughter(s) and their mother’s are holding on in case their granddaughter(s) want it someday. On and on it goes. Dress after dress.

I don’t have any daughters, but I still find it hard to let go of or re-purpose mine.

Why?! It doesn’t represent a happy memory for me. It represents a day that was so rough I spent half an hour of the reception crying alone in the bathroom. It isn’t doing anyone any good in the back of a closet. It’s heavy and bulky to move. There’s not one good reason to keep it.

But….but…well…it’s just so pretty. And it fits me perfectly (3 times back to the tailor to bring it in again). I’ve never had a really fancy gown that was tailored for every curve of my body before. Nor do I think I ever will again….and…and it marks the beginning of the commitment I have with my partner….

But then I find myself waxing the other direction. The commitment I have with my partner does not vanish just because I remove some fabric from the closet. I will probably never have occasion for another white gown no matter how perfectly tailored….

But…it’s so damn pretty!

It always comes to that. It’s a beautiful dress and who throws away such a beautiful thing?

Once the pragmatic side took over my brain I ran a Google search and found there are lots of charities out there that collect wedding dresses, sell them, and use the proceeds for great causes. What a great use of a dress I no longer have any use for!

So today after work, I’m going to go home and for the first time since my wedding day I will put on my gown. I will look at myself in the mirror and let my dog (who was the ring bearer) come smell it and remember with me. Together (because it’s hard to make these decisions alone and dogs are sagely counsel) we will decide if this is something we can let go of. And if we can (I’m really hoping we can) I have chosen the perfect charity that gives to couples coping with terminal illness – something near and dear to my heart.

Ladies, let’s be bold together. How long have you had that wedding dress in the closet? How often do you have use for it? How much money have you spent preserving it or keeping it in a temperature controlled storage space? How many times have you moved it from the back of one closet to the back of the next in a new house?

I know. I know. It’s so damn pretty. But that is not reason enough to keep from doing the good you could do…stop and look at it for what it is: you’re hoarding fabric you will never use again.

There are great groups out there that can turn that beautiful, breathtaking, sparkly, form-fitted piece of clutter from you and turn it into something even more beautiful: charity to those in need.I hope I am able to let go. Because as pretty as it may be, it’s the right thing to do.


4 thoughts on “The married woman’s dilemma

  1. I’m impressed. Most women know they’ll never use the dress again, but keep it anyway. I think that’s partially because they don’t see much good in getting rid of it. But those charitable organizations you mentioned are an excellent reason to do so.

    Might be worth noting that these dresses are pretty expensive. My wife watching on of those Say Yes to the Dress shows on TV, and those folks seems to spend $5-15k without batting an eye. You can get a pretty substantial tax break if you donate it to a non-profit!


    • It’s amazing how the word “wedding” increases the price of everything by hundreds and even thousands of dollars. A white three-tiered cake for a birthday is $100, the exact same thing for a wedding is $2,000. White gown for a prom $200. White gown for a wedding $5,000. It’s crazy!


  2. I just brought mine back from PA. I’m so stoked to have it. My friend Amy regularly has “wear your wedding dress” events. She did one when Prince William and Kate Middleton married! Now I’m going to have it shortened and wear it on picnics for our anniversary. That’s the best thing about clothing — you can make new memories! I might have to write something for my blog about this now…


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