What to do with a wedding dress?
I have considered having it altered, and dying it into a colour that is more acceptable at other people's weddings, but having taken my graduation ball dress into Sew to see how much this sort of thing costs, with the amount of material needing to be taken out and thus reshaping we're looking at around £100 before the dying. The other options for re-cutting include havimg it made into a tallit (prayer shawl) (5th down on this website), or a torah mantle, which a friend on facebook used hers for. Apparently keep-sake clothing is a very in thing, and lots of options are out there to upcycle it into new clothing, yet somehow it seems a shame to destroy what is such a lovely piece, and which could be enjoyed by others.
There are charities which send dresses to Africa, although I wonder about the cultural ethics of that; making every girls dream wedding into the western vision of white dress and veil (and lets face it this is already riven with pitfalls for western women who are fed a fairytale dream of one perfect princess like day, when marriage is really about building the rest of our lives). And do dress miles do as much damage as food miles? There are also lots of ways of selling a dress to raise funds for various chairities. Oxfam, The Red Cross, and others have specific bridal areas of their online charity shops. Ethical Weddings has advice on buying a charity shop dress and the details presumably work for donations too. There are also organisations that will sell your dress and goive you the option to either keep 50% of the sale price (and you could then donate to the charity of choice or buy a dress you can actually use) or they will donate all profits: I found Bridal Re-Dress.
Another friend suggested I donate my dress to the bride-dress gemach; Gemachs are a great institution in the Orthodox and particularly Charedi world - someone has a stock of one thing; spare cutlery, boxes for moving; wedding dresses- and loans them to those that need, rather than everyone owning everything and hardly using them. Brilliant way to work as a community! Now while my dress wasn't immodest, I don't think it was modest enough for that, so another friend suggested I start a Progressive wedding dress gemach! It's a genius idea. It fits with Progressive ideals, and could help those with fewer resources. But I'm not sure I have the time or resources to set it up... anyone with any ideas or thing they would want to do this let me know - interesting to find out! Perhaps if enough people respond to this there might be enough to justify thinking about it!
So the dress is now hanging in the spare room, where I see it every time I pass, knowing I have to make a decision. It is going to go, the question is where, and to do what. Not the hardest question or decision in the world, but one that is emotionally involved. Yet it is an item that it seems could have so much more of a life out there playing in the real world, and certainly shouldn't be hanging in plastic in a cupboard - yet another victim of unnecessary hording and ultimately going to waste!