I’ll never forget how I felt when I realized I found “the one.” Forget the guy, I’m talking about my wedding dress! Standing in front of the mirror in an off white strapless Werkstatt gown, sophisticated with a little bling, but classy and elegant, I felt so beautiful and happy. All my dreams were coming true. Until they weren’t, and 8 years later, I found myself divorced with a wedding dress in a box, along with my wedding photos and all my other marriage mementos.
So, when you get divorced, what do you do with your wedding dress? What do you do with your wedding photos after divorce? And what do you do with all your other wedding stuff?
It’s kind of funny. Last year, at the beginning of COVID, when everyone was home with lots of time on our hands, I cleaned out my entire basement and storage room. That is where my wedding dress had been sitting since the year 2000 in an airtight box.
I took it out of the box and tried it on, and so did my daughter, and wow, what a GREAT experience. I laughed when I put it on. I couldn’t button it up all the way, but I still loved wearing it again. I didn’t cry or get emotional or feel angry or bitter, I actually got a huge kick out of trying it on!
As for my then 16 year old daughter, I think that even though we are divorced, she loved it so much that she wants to wear it as a bride. Now, a lot could change by the time she gets engaged, but what was noteworthy was the fact that her parents being divorced did not deter her from loving the dress and wanting to wear it at her wedding.
It makes sense actually. Her parents were in love when her mom wore the dress, so that’s good karma, isn’t it? She and her brother were born after Mom wore that dress, so that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Why does a wedding dress have to be doomed because the couple ended up divorced? It doesn’t! If they were in love when it was worn, then maybe it’s a good thing.
So, bottom line, keep the wedding dress! You don’t know how you are going to feel down the road. You may want to set it on fire at the beginning of your divorce when the raw feelings of pain and heartbreak are so fresh. But you don’t know how you are going to feel later.
Every divorced person has different opinions on what he or she wants to do with their wedding dress, wedding photos and other wedding mementos.
Some people tear up wedding photos in anger, some secretly try on their gown and cry, some sell their rings because they need the money, and two divorced women even went on The Steve Harvey Show, where they gave their wedding gowns to a fashion expert who had the gowns made into fun, cocktail dresses. I was on the show as a divorce expert, by the way.
Here are some suggestions on what you can do with your wedding photos after divorce, your wedding dress, and other marriage mementos.
Wedding gown and veil:
1. Save it and give your daughter the option of wearing it. Let her decide how she feels about it.
2. Give it to a resale shop and get some much needed cash, or buy yourself something really nice with the money.
3. Donate it to a charitable cause to give a happy, young bride in love the chance to wear a beautiful dress she might not otherwise have the money to buy.
1. The site of your wedding photos might make you physically nauseous. They might be upsetting. They might infuriate you. Or, they might depress you. I totally get that. But, think about saving them for your kids. If it was a time when you were madly in love, don’t you think they want to have them–photos of the two people they love most in this world, who at one time loved each other enough to have them?
2. Throw the photos in the garbage (which I do not think is a good idea.) My point is, there is no monetary value in photos, so these are your two options.
1. If you are into shoes, and you absolutely LOVED your wedding shoes or sandals, what’s wrong with wearing them? You could have them dyed and they could turn out to be your favorite picks for a night out on the town.
3. Save for your daughter.
1. This is a toughie. My advice would be to keep it, just because. That’s what I did. Just because the marriage resulted in divorce, it was part of my life, and I do want to remember it.
Wedding and engagement Rings:
2. Even if you don’t need the money you can still sell and buy yourself something nice.
3. Donate. It’s a great tax write off, and you could be doing something really good for someone. Good karma!
4. Save for your son or daughter. Again, this is such a personal choice, but since you were probably really happy when you got engaged, maybe you want one of your children to wear it. And maybe they will want to wear it, maybe they won’t. Remember, it will be up to them when it’s time, but only if you still have the rings. Wouldn’t it be nice to give them the option?
Last piece of advice on rings: this is a really, really big decision so don’t do anything hasty! It’s okay if your rings sit in a drawer for years and years. When you finally decide to make a move, it will be the right decision because it will have been well thought out.
I have big white lace box. In it is all the table numbers, my wedding program, my wedding invitation, my wedding shoes, my dried flower bouquet, cards from people, my wedding list, the key to the hotel room where we spent our wedding night, honeymoon photos, and a even the tube of waterproof mascara I wore that night.
I could possibly be the most sentimental person on the face of the earth, but I still look in that box every few years, and while it makes me sad, it also puts a smile on my face because of the sentimentality, all the friends and family who were with me during that happy time, and of even my ex. We were in love and very happy at the time, so why is that such a bad memory?
It takes a long time to get to this point, and if you can’t imagine being here, I get it. Just give it time and don’t even think about it for years. You might surprise yourself.
In closing, the best advice I can give on what to do with wedding photos after divorce (and other marriage mementos) is don’t let your anger rule what you choose to do with things. Once you rip them up and throw them away, you can never get them back. So, a better option, while you are angry with your ex and devastated by your divorce is to put them away where you will never see them. Then, if you are ever ready to look at them, you have that option.
People always say, “Don’t focus on the past,” but I think the only time this advice is wrong is when it comes to looking at your wedding pictures. What’s wrong with, (for a few minutes every few years) going on a trip down memory lane to a really, really great time in your life?
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