What Happens to All Those Bridesmaids Dresses, Anyway?

Here’s a question for the starry-eyed brides out there: How many people do you really think wear their bridesmaids dresses again? Our guess is the answer is ‘not many,’ even when there are more sweet brides-to-be picking out gorgeous gowns in wearable colors than ever before. Taffeta nightmares? Hardly. Try lovely Lela Rose bridesmaid dresses and others that make every bridesmaid look her best. It may just be that today’s busy bridesmaid just isn’t going to that many cocktail functions where a semi-formal dress or gown is the right wardrobe choice.

So what can you do with an old bridesmaids dress that’s gathering dust in a closet? Here are some creative ways to make the most of them:

Have fun in it. Events around the country, like Boston’s Running with the Bridesmaids, give former bridesmaids a chance to re-wear those old gowns… usually while jogging, playing touch football, or chowing down in cake eating contests… all for the purposes of raising money for worthy charitable organizations. Who cares if a dress you’ll never wear again gets grass stains?

Donate it. Stylish bridesmaids dresses make great prom dresses – and parents like them because they’re often more modest than the more modern prom dresses. There are organizations that facilitate this, like The Princess Project, but you probably have a secondhand shop in your area that hosts pre-prom events where girls and their moms can come and spend a few hours trying on gowns.

Get crafty with it. If yours is a bridesmaid dress to remember, just not one to wear again, consider turning it into pillow shams or using the fabric to spice up another wardrobe piece. This idea is only for the seamstresses among us, but as intro sewing projects go, these are easy ideas.

Sell it. You paid for it, more likely than not, so why not recoup some of the costs of being a bridesmaid by putting that old dress up for sale on sites like Craigslist or eBay? The unfortunate thing is that most bridesmaids dresses, even pricier ones, go for pennies on the dollar, but even if all you make back is a little martini money you’re better off than you were with an unwanted dress taking up space in your closet.

Exchange it at sites like NewlyMaid.com. Some shopping sites will give you credit in return for those old bridesmaid dresses, which they then donate to charity – for an awesome, fell good double whammy. You get that little black dress and the satisfaction of knowing that you did something nice for someone else.

What are your ‘maids plans for their bridesmaids dresses?