You're divorced (or the engagement got called off). What do you do? Sell your wedding dress?!
After all, it's not like you're going to wear it again! (Though single mom Kaytlin said she dyed hers red and made it into a cocktail dress!)
The big mistake I see women make when it comes to items from their marriage is what I am now dubbing the marriage hoarder mentality.
That means that you hoard items from a time long gone: clothes, jewelry and household goods that represent a dream and a plan (marriage) that didn't work out.
No matter how you feel about your marriage and ex, no matter if you are at peace with your journey, BFF with your ex, still licking your divorce wounds, or in the middle of a hot, steaming mess of a break up, sooner or later you must purge the items that represent that period.
That is necessary in order to move on.
Plus, simple living is one of the most joyful ways to live. The less you have, the less house you need to store it.
The less clutter you need to clean and organize. The less mental clutter to navigate.
And more time and money and energy to create a life that makes you happy. A new life.
What to do with old wedding dress after divorce
There are any number of ways to sell or get rid of or cleanse or declutter your wedding dress and bridal apparel after the breakup of divorce:
- Sell it for cash
- Burn in a ceremonial cleansing bonfire
Why get rid of your wedding dress
- It gets rid of physical clutter
- It gets rid of emotional clutter
This is what Candice shared in the Millionaires Single Moms Facebook group:
“I thought about it, was approached with a few requests, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t want to wonder if someone else in that beautiful gown would end up with the same emotions I went through in a terrible marriage. So one day, after years of having it in my closet (and another expensive legal hassle with my ex), I threw it in the garbage can and never felt better. It was very cathartic, emotionally empowering and I felt surprisingly free of guilt or remorse. That might not be for everyone, but it was for me.”
3. You can sell it, and make some money, and feel good.
“Sold mine after we separated. I knew the sales girl at the shop and she told me that the bride who bought it cried when she put it on. It made me feel really good that such a beautiful dress made someone else happy.”
4. You can donate it, and feel good + get a tax write-off
Sell your wedding dress
Here are some places to sell your wedding dress …
Sell your wedding dress online
Online marketplaces are great since they market to a global audience, you have the greatest chance of selling your pretty dress, as well as getting the best price. Here are some of my favorite places to sell wedding dresses online:
The Nearly Newlywed site just sells previously owned wedding dresses, which makes it an obvious choice.
The site is beautifully designed, and easy to navigate.
Sellers pay a $25 listing price, and earn 60% of the sales price, and Nearly Newlywed markets and will sell your dress, and handles all the customer service.
So worth the help managing the whole process!
The company has very high reviews and several awards from WeddingWire.
Thredup is a huge marketplace for resale and vintage clothes.
They do not have a wedding dress category, per se, but if your dress is closer to a cocktail style, or happens not to be white or ivory (I love when brides chose colorful dresses!
Why not … I mean, you're not a goddamned virgin!), then Thredup is a great option.
For items priced $300 and higher, the seller gets 90% of the price. Not bad.
The trick with Thredup is that they are very picky about quality, condition and style.
Read our Thredup review post for more details.
The company has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
This site ranks high on Google and only charges a $25 flat fee for listing your dress (as well as $5 for bridesmaids, mother-of-bride and flower girl dresses, if you have those to sell, too).
The downside is that listing, photographs and customer service are on you.
Local consignment or thrift shop.
This might be handy, but you are limited to the price that the store or local shoppers will pay. Also, consignment can be a PIA. Said Stephanie, in Millionaire Single Moms group on Facebook:
“I sold mine for profit at a local dress shop. Emotionally I cried for a day when they sent me the check for it….then I thought about it and I would totally wear a different dress if I got married again anyway, and I would suggest my daughter wear a different dress too…so all good.”
Said single mom Darby:
“I had it vacuum packed for years but sold it at a garage sale when I realized: A) I had sons, so they're probably not going to want to wear it; and B) someone could get a gorgeous dress for next to nothing. A girl bought it for $100 and it was a designer dress. She was thrilled and so was I. Win-win. No emotions whatsoever. It's a dress.”
Where to donate your wedding dress
This nationwide program creates hand-sewn burial gowns for infants who have died in the NICU, typically from donated wedding gowns. That is what Amy did:
“I donated mine to an organization that turned it into burial dresses for babies that didn’t survive childbirth. It was my way of turning it into a positive.”
This national organization provides weddings for terminally ill patients of all sexual orientations.
This cool org has donated more than 12,000 dresses to couples serving in the military or armed forces, and helps them plan their special day.
Local thrift shop, including Goodwill or Salvation Army
Fun fact: I gave my dress, a white fitted Ellie Tahari evening dress bought at Lord & Taylor off the rack, to my local favorite charity thrift shop.
Zero fucks given, good or bad.
FAQ selling your wedding dress online
Q: How much will I get for my dress?
A: Probably not a lot. Of course if the dress is a designer label, a popular style, and sold on a popular site like Nearly Newly Wed, the price will be higher.
For example, on Nearly Newly Wed, a pretty lace, open back fitted David Fielden gown is listed for $2,400, or 20% off the $3,000 retail price.
If you were to sell that, you would make $1,440, minus the $25 listing fee.
Other, lesser-known brands, and less popular styles would garner more.
How to Feng shui every room in your house — and make money
Q: Shouldn't I save my dress for my daughter?
No. You daughter will not want to wear your dress — it will be out of style by that time, and clothes are only getting more and more affordable.
Plus, your dress represents a marriage that ended.
Take a picture, and show your kids the dress, and the rest of your wedding.
Then, get rid of that bad mojo, and model simple living, forgiveness, moving on and financial savvy!
Single mom inspiration:
Get inspired! Dr. Susan O'Malley entered medical school at 35, unmarried and 6 months pregnant. Hear how she did it:
With her thick New York accent, this lifelong underachiever, secretary with no more than a high school diploma, set out at age 30 to become a physician.
She did it.
In this interview, I interview this amazing, charming woman who did not let her age, marital or family status or the zillions of naysayers hold her back from her mid-life dream of medicine.
Dr. Susan O'Malley shares about:
- How she got over her low-self image to preserver through rejection from every medical school in the country, and eventual acceptance
- Romantic disappointments
- Powering through one of the most rigorous academic paths as a single mom of a newborn to become an emergency room physician.
- Her eventual move to cosmetic medicine and entrepreneurship with the opening of Sonas Med Spa in Connecticut
- The power of physical beauty
- Dating as a single mother
- What she does with her money
- Her daily schedule while in medical school while raising her tiny son
Listen to her gush about the 15-year romance with her husband (hear what she said when I asked how the sex was after all those years, and now in her 60s).
Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker,” her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.