What to Do With Your Wedding Dress

If you read this blog regularly you know my sister and I are huge advocates of clutter clearing. We often promote the benefits of letting go of what no longer serves you. And I can honestly say we live by our words and really enjoy the process of letting go of things we no longer love or need… I always feel lighter, happier and more productive after a good clutter clearing session. Of course, letting go isn’t always easy as I was reminded a few months ago when I found myself struggling while cleaning out my closets…

The objects we choose to keep in our homes often have meaning beyond their immediate use. In fact, objects become “alive” because of how we relate to them. They “speak to us” every time we look at them because of the memories and associations they trigger. So sometimes when we let go of an object we’re faced with the idea of letting go of a memory or an association… and when that association is with another person, the process of letting go becomes a way of dealing with the feelings you have about that person.

A few months ago while clearing out a hallway closet I came across my wedding dress, veil and album. Now I had gotten divorced over a year ago, so being the clutter clearing enthusiast that I am, I had to ask myself why I still had these objects in my home? I had been telling myself that the dress was valuable so tossing it away carelessly wasn’t appropriate and I’d held on to it… but of course that wasn’t the real reason… if I had just done a little research I could have found plenty of alternatives to carelessly tossing it out. So while cleaning out my closet, looking at the dress, I realized that although on many levels I had resolved my feelings about the end of my marriage and toward my ex-husband, seeing reminders of my wedding tucked away in my closet brought new emotion to the surface—emotion that I had indeed “tucked away” in the corners of my mind.

Letting go of the dress became one more step in the process of moving on… As anyone who has been divorced knows there are many steps, many of which take place at home—there are big steps like separating your things and moving out and then there are little ones that can take you by surprise, like deciding what to do with your wedding dress. Although I had maneuvered through all of the big steps and had come to terms with the reality of my marriage, the relationship with my ex, and the subsequent divorce, what I hadn’t let go of were all my hopes and dreams that the dress represented. Needless to say, these were feelings I needed to work through.

In the end, I did let go of the dress. Of course my logical side knew getting rid of it didn’t mean I was getting rid of my dreams. But also, more importantly, I recognized that symbolically the dress represented my old self and although I am still a romantic full of hopes and dreams—those dreams are different now then they were on the day I wore that gown. I had changed and my goals and what I was looking for in life and a relationship had changed too… For me, the process of letting go helped me discover that I really was ready to move on from the past and make space—both physically and emotionally—for a new relationship and a much greater love.

So what did I do with the dress? I gave the dress and veil, to a shop that sold used wedding gowns because I liked the idea that they would bring another bride joy. I did however choose to keep a few of my favorite photos from the album—I may not keep the pictures forever, but for now they’re placed in a box as a way of honoring my old self and the parts of my marriage that were good. Of course finding an appropriate place to keep them in my home was another challenge, but that’s for another blog!

If you find yourself having difficulty letting go of something because of the memories and associations it holds, keep the following tips in mind:

– Be gentle with yourself. It’s natural to have feelings arise when clutter clearing. In fact, it can be a gift to have feelings come to the surface so you can deal with them.

– Ask yourself the following questions: Is this object an important part of my history? Will I use this as a tool to understand myself? Could my children learn from this (keeping in mind that you do not want to weigh your children down with unnecessary baggage)? Spending time with intimate memories from your past may be a healing and empowering experience. However, if looking at an object is not healing or empowering, then it is time to let go of it.

– If you are dealing with the end of a relationship keep in mind you don’t need to remove any and all reminders of that person. It’s up to you. Sometimes getting rid of objects and pictures that remind you of the person is cathartic and helps you move on. Sometimes it’s beneficial to hold onto the positive memories and other times holding onto things can keep you tied to the past and prevent you from moving forward. Only you know. So take a moment to sit with the object and really tune into how it makes you feel. Is it serving you? Remember to only surround yourself with things that reinforce who you are now, who you want to be, or that speak to you in positive voices.

– Live with what you love. All of the objects and materials in your home interact with your own unique energy—either positively or negatively. When you look at your home from this perspective, you can clearly imagine the importance of surrounding yourself with things that you love—whether they are useful, beautiful, have positive personal meaning, or just make you feel good.

For Tips About Clearing Clutter Check Out The Following Blogs:
A Guide for Clearing Clutter
Live With What You Love
Common Clutter Clearing Challenges

And For Tips on Where to Donate Your Stuff Check Out…
Doing Good By De-cluttering