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Ask the Organizer: My husband wants me to save my wedding dress, but I don’t want to!

by respaced on November 14, 2011

Is it fair to hope your daughter will want to wear your wedding dress at her wedding someday?

Question: I have been married for 5 years and my dress is still hanging in its bag in our closet. I never had it dry cleaned (GAH… and big sigh!). I, of course, love the dress, due to its meaning, but I wouldn’t say that I am overly attached to it. I would, however, say my husband is. He would be very upset if I were to donate it (as I have researched many times, when doing the chore of cleaning out our closet and/or moving). He has this dream/thought that I need to keep it, because some day our daughter may want it (doubtful… she is 2. I have a feeling she’s going to want her very own special gown).

So…. what to do? I could really use the closet space!

Answer: Good question, and a tricky one at that. Here are a few options:

1. You say you haven’t had it dry-cleaned since you wore it 5 years ago and it’s just hanging in your closet? It’s possible that neglect has actually made the dress unwearable (as of today, “unwearable” is officially a word). It might have stains that have set in, yellow perspiration marks that are now permanent, bug-eaten holes or water damage from being unprotected in your closet. If so, you have an excellent excuse for throwing the dress out. Yay! Problem solved.

2. Compromise. The dress goes, but you will keep the veil, so your daughter can wear that if she wants to.

3. Try reasoning with your husband. I’m sure your daughter will grow up to be a lovely and kind-hearted woman. How will she gracefully decline the offer of your wedding dress once she learns your husband FOUGHT to keep it against YOUR wishes so that she might have the option to wear it someday? Will that put unfair pressure on her to choose to preserve her father’s feelings over her own desires for her special day? In the face of that kind of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t decision, how could she possibly feel confident saying she doesn’t like the dress or she wants to choose her own? What if she doesn’t fit into the dress? What if she (gasp!) doesn’t get married? It seems like it is the daughter who loses out here, no matter what.

4. Reason some more: Would your husband have wanted to wear his father’s wedding suit from the ’70s, complete with wide collar and bell bottom pants? Probably not. That is about how cool your dress will look to your daughter in a few decades.

5. Can’t reason with him? No problem. You will keep it, but he has to store it on his side of the closet for the next 20 years.

6. None of those options sound palatable? Time for the sitcom solution. (The following ideas were inspired by various sitcoms I have watched over the years.) Tell your husband you are taking the dress to the dry cleaners. Secretly throw/give away the dress while you are out. Lie and tell your husband your dress was stolen out of the car.

Or wait until your husband is not home. Take the dress out of the closet. Punch hundreds of tiny holes in it. Spill some tea on it. Put on a look of surprise and disappointment and tell your husband you took the dress out of the closet to get it dry cleaned only to discover that it has been bug-eaten and water-stained. (You might have to pour some tea on other clothes in your closet to make the water-stain story convincing.) Cry. But then throw the dress away.

Disclaimer: Use sitcom solutions at your own risk.

Good luck, and thanks for the question!

Have a question about organizing or time management? Email it to info@respacedpdx.com or leave your question in the comments. I will answer it in a blog post just as soon as I can!

Image courtesy of Two Stout Monks at Flickr.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

andrea November 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I have seen women turn their dress into lovely throw pillows or quilts. Still around but not the same…

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respaced November 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

That would make for an interesting quilt! My dress was pale blue with a skirt of tulle. It would make a nice lampshade. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

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Jo November 16, 2011 at 4:51 am

I think she should give it to him. It sounds to me as though he’s using the daughter as an excuse to keep something that he doesn’t own but has an emotional attachment to. If he doesn’t want the responsibility of it, or doesn’t want it on his side of the closet, then he gets to throw it out. She’s already let go.
It might help if they do as Andrea suggests and make throw pillows or a quilt, or even just cut a swatch from an inconspicuous area to include in their wedding album before giving it away.

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respaced November 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Jo, that’s a great idea to save just a tiny bit of the dress for that emotional reason. I kept thinking, what if the tables were turned and she was insisting he save something of his that he didn’t want? It’s a dicey proposition to assert some kind of ownership over something you don’t even own! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Janna November 17, 2011 at 12:12 am

I have a similar problem only it is me that is holding on to it not my husband. After taking an informal poll of my friends and family, I have decided that I’m going to shoot some really detailed pictures of the dress and then donate it. Your picture above has inspired me to put my 5 year old daughter in it for some of those pictures. If she decides when she gets married that she wants to wear my dress, she can buy the modern version. In the meantime, I’m not stumbling over a huge box full of dress that she may or may not want to wear.

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respaced November 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Wow, Janna, that’s a great idea! I like the part where you said “she can buy the modern version of my dress.” That is more along the lines of what she will probably want to do anyway. Thanks for the comment!

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Deena November 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I’m jumping into the fray here with a couple of questions, and I suppose being a bit “nosey”.

1. If one’s spouse really wants you to keep the dress – which is more important – the relationship or the dress?
Not meaning to be insulting, but to consider and appreciate that maybe the reason that he wants to keep the dress is because you were the one wearing it when you married him. Just sayin’……..

2. My next problem – question is with who paid for the dress and how much did it cost? Maybe another family member would want to use it (sister, cousin, niece). Sometimes daughters do want to wear their mother’s dresses.
I do realize that space is a premium item for many of us. I didn’t have my own dress. The dress I used belonged to someone else. Anyway I’m tossing in my comments here.

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