Some brides want to keep their wedding dress preserved in their closet forever, but for other women, the benefits of donating their bridal gowns—more closet space, a tax deduction, the chance to help a woman in need—outweigh the sentiment of holding onto it. "The [coronavirus] pandemic has greatly impacted and altered so many brides' wedding plans," says Erin Scharf, founder of Brides for a Cause. "Brides are canceling, postponing, eloping, and hosting small micro weddings or backyard weddings." Extra gowns donated to charitable organizations—like the ones on this list—are passed on to brides in need for free, or sold at a discount to raise money for a variety of causes. "There are so many brides who see the practicality of donating their dress," says Scharf. "They donate because they don't see a need for it anymore; it served its purpose. They want to be able to share it with someone else! It truly is a selfless and generous act."
If you're thinking of donating your wedding dress consider giving it to one of these worthy causes.
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Brides for a Cause
Northwest-based Brides for a Cause—a bridal store that raises funds for charity—operates showrooms in Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Sacramento, reselling donated wedding gowns and distributing the profits to organizations that, as of 2020, included the Loveland Foundation, Dressember, and Abby's Closet. Since opening the Portland boutique in 2012, the stores have found new homes for more than 20,000 dresses—some donated in person and many mailed from other states—and made more than $1.2 million in charitable donations.
Brides Across America
Wedding dresses donated to Brides Across America are passed on for free to military and first responder brides at Operation Wedding Gown events twice a year; since 2008, the nonprofit has outfitted more than 26,000 women with the wedding dresses of their dreams. Fill out their online form with details about your gown, veil, and jewelry to find out if they meet the acceptance criteria; items should be less than four years old and in wearable condition.
In 2015, the NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown program accepted 15,000 wedding dresses, which seamstresses then remade into gowns for photos and burial services honoring the infants of bereaved parents. The organization now maintains a waitlist and connects seamstresses with nearby donations of wedding or bridesmaids' dresses (in light shades of blue, pink, and purple) on an as-needed basis.
Adorned in Grace
Brides shop at Adorned in Grace's Portland, Tacoma, and Arizona locations for wedding dresses, formal attire, mother-of-the-bride dresses, and flower girl attire less than five years old—plus veils, shoes, jewelry, bras, and petticoats. The company uses its profits to support efforts that prevent and raise awareness of sex trafficking.
Cherie Sustainable Bridal
At Cherie Sustainable Bridal in Maryland, donated gowns support Success in Style, a nonprofit that offers professional clothing and basic interview skills to clients in crisis. The store stocks a variety of designer gowns less than five years old, sells donated bridesmaid's dresses at a partner store, and doesn't require you to have your gown professionally cleaned before mailing or dropping it off.