Your Mother’s Gown – A Delicate Matter

You have seen your parent’s wedding portrait hanging in the house for years. As a little girl, you probably thought your mother’s gown was the most beautiful thing you had ever seen. As a teenage girl, you probably thought it was dated or possible hideous. As a newly engaged woman, the idea of wearing your mother’s gown has probably entered into conversation at least once. She ‘saved’ it, had it heirloomed or preserved in acid-free tissue so that you would one day be able to walk down the aisle in the gown she chose so many years ago.

Just a few problems with this scenario: 1) She chose it for herself, not a child that had yet to be born. 2) It probably is dated. 3) You are more than likely not the same size. 4) What if you have sisters? Are you all supposed to wear her gown… all of you wearing exact same gown?

Let’s face it – you probably don’t want to wear it. You probably have an idea of  how you want to look on your wedding day and it doesn’t involve anything from your mother’s closet. It’s not vintage enough, it’s not retro enough, its just not enough!

So what do you do when she brings out the giant heirloom box and starts to talk about how beautiful you are going to look? Be gentle, be kind but, be honest.  tell her your exact feelings as nicely as possible. You should definitely try it on, tell stories and laugh! When the time comes, just  tell her that you want a different style or color or whatever the case may be.  you may be shocked at how easily she takes the news. You see, as a mom, I can tell you that when you save these things for your children you are really saving them for yourself.  
A compromise may be to use parts of the gown for something on your wedding day ensemble. Adding some of her lace to your gown is a beautiful sentiment and it leaves other elements for siblings to use as well.  Putting the edge on a handkerchief or using some of the fabric for a purse or to decorate a card box is equally nice.

Your wedding gown is probably the single costliest clothing item you will ever own, you will be photographed more wearing this gown than anything else you ever wear, you will hang your wedding portrait in your house and probably keep it in the same spot forever.

Whatever gown you choose, make sure to include your mother in the process ( and not just her wallet) so that she feels as special on your day as she did on hers so many years ago.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Party is Over… what to do with your Wedding Gown?

Most women don’t give much thought to their gown the day after their wedding. It’s kind of funny, really because that is the single most important thing that most brides obsess over on their wedding day and now it sits in a box or hanging in a bag somewhere in the closet, or attic or their parent’s garage. There is so much more you can do with your gown depending upon how far you are willing to go.

Lets face it, most ladies do not want to wear their mother’s bridal gown. If your mother was married in the 1970’s it was probably made of polyester and had long sleeves and an empire waist. Not a popular look for 2011. If she was married in the early 1980’s you could probably use her gown to make about two gowns considering the amount of fabric used in the average gown circa 1982. This is good to take into consideration since saving your wedding gown for your daughter may sound like a good idea but, in reality she will probably want her own gown…. something new!

Depending upon how far you are willing to go, there are several options available for your ever-so-slightly used wedding gown.

Donate-There are several organizations that take donated wedding gowns. They accept donations based on several factors and each one of them has different criteria. Some sell the gowns and donate the proceeds to a charity, some give the gowns away to worthy recipients. It varies so check with your organization to see if their process suits your needs. One place to check is which has a national database of organizations in each state.

Re-Sale– Consignment shops will take gowns that have been cleaned and are in very good to excellent condition for re-sale in their shops. In fact, Bridal Re-Sale shops popped up all over the country when “Going Green’ became tres chic a few years back. Recycling may no longer be the new black nut it is still chic and sensible. You can also try craigslist, ebay and other online selling techniques. most women prefer the consignment method since they will want to try on a gown before they purchase. Look for a resale shop that is clean, has fitting rooms and does not smell like moth balls or patchouli!  When the average cost of a bridal gown in 2011 is more than I spent on my first car, I see nothing wrong with trying to recoup a few bucks on a major purchase!







Destroy – Trash the Dress or Rock the Frock is  a growing trend. Watching videos of this process and seeing photos first hand, I can tell you this is a very cathartic process. Mostly staged and sometimes done in group fashion, brides are encouraged to adorn the full bridal gear: headpiece, jewelry, makeup just as if it were ‘the big day’ all over again for a full-blown photo shoot. Then seemingly out of nowhere, circumstances present themselves to destroy the gown beyond repair. Paint or other elements smeared  all over the front of a very expensive designer gown sounds ghastly but admittedly looks like a fun way to declare the wedding is over. Getting the groom involved may also prove to be cathartic for him as well since he has probably endured countless hours of bridal gown speculation, shopping, fitting and drama.

Re-Use. If you have a formal gown it is unlikely you will ever wear it again, realistically. Unless you want to dress as a zombie bride for Halloween or (like a woman I have known for the better part of my life) wear it every year on your anniversary, the gown will probably not be re-worn as is. But, it can be re-used. The fabric, the lace, the entire thing can be cut up in various ways and skillfully used to make a beautiful and sentimental Christening gown for your child.








Preserve – Of course your gown can always be cleaned, boxed and preserved for future use.  It is packaged with acid-free tissue and the box is sealed shut with a viewing window so you can make sure it is your gown. If  handled according to the preservation company’s recommendations, the gown can be stored for eternity(?) without yellowing, fading or showing any signs of age.  Make sure it is your gown in the box  and if you gave them the headpiece (to preserve) that it is also in the box.

Whatever you decide to do,  make sure to place a big post-it on your refrigerator to remind yourself to launder your gown since only one of the above options does not require post-wedding cleaning.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago