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The many ways to recycle or repurpose a wedding gown

Brides want to look their best on their wedding days. In addition to professional hairstyling and makeup, many brides invest in extravagant wedding gowns.

Estimates suggest the average wedding gown costs $2,000. Brides who indulge by purchasing a designer dress can pay upward of $5,000 for their gowns. But even the most expensive dress will only be worn once by the blushing bride. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways brides can reuse or recycle their wedding gowns.

Heirloom

One of the easiest ways to get more from your gown is to pass it down to another bride after your wedding day. Brides frequently save and preserve their gowns with the intent of passing it down as an heirloom to a daughter or another family member. Maintain the beauty of the gown by hiring a professional dry cleaner or wedding gown preservation service to treat and package the gown before storing it for some lucky lady's future use.

Religious outfit

If you feel the style of the gown won't keep up with the times, the fabric of the gown can be repurposed into a baptismal outfit or a communion dress or suit. Christian children are welcomed to the faith in white clothing, which is a symbol of purity and cleansing of sin. Seamstresses can fashion beautiful dresses or suits from original wedding gowns.

Play clothes

Many little girls and boys like to play dress-up. And rather than have a gown sitting in the closet, use it to make play clothes for little ones. The gown can be turned into a dress for a fairy princess or an ice queen.

Ornaments or favors

Lace from gowns can be turned into doilies, accents on other clothing, undergarments or decorative pieces for the home. A lace-covered lampshade can be a creative way to commemorate your wedding day for years to come.

Art

Use the gown as a background for artwork. Simply stretch it across a wooden frame and staple on the back. You then have a handy canvas at the ready.

Nursery décor

Decorate a baby's nursery with a portion of the wedding dress, which can be turned into a crib skirt or pillow. The dress can also be used to create frilly curtains. A white dress will blend with just about any pattern.

Anniversary tablecloth

Measure out the length of a dining table, and cut and sew the gown into a special occasion tablecloth. Take it out each year on your anniversary.

Stuffed animals

Present children with cozy friends that they can love for years. Cut out a pattern for a bunny or bear and use it to craft a stuffed toy from the gown. Visit a local craft shop for stuffing fill and buttons for eyes.

Donation

Some less fortunate people cannot afford a gown. Work with a church or shelter and find out where you can donate the gown to be used by someone who normally would not wear something so lavish.

Theater prop

Many plays and musicals feature wedding scenes. An upstart theater company may benefit from having a wedding gown in their costume department.

Handkerchief

Cut out a piece of the gown and sew the hem. Offer it as the "something old" or "something borrowed" for a loved one's wedding.

Wedding gowns do not need to be relegated to a closet once a bride has said "I do." Turn that dress into something useful for years to come.