So, the wedding is over, the memories are sweet, and your dress is hanging in the spare bedroom at your mom’s house. Now what? There are several choices you have for what to do with your dress now that the big day is passed. You could donate it to one of many organizations out there, repurpose it into a cocktail or party dress, or preserve it and put it into storage, to name a few.
Or you could wear it again for a super special photoshoot, like this mom and her daughters did!
After 40 years of marriage to her husband Tom, Debra Tengwall was ready to get her dress out of hiding. She’d recently won a photography session from Lisa Venticinque Photography at a scholarship fundraiser in memory of her friend (who is actually the mother of photographer Lisa) and already knew how she wanted to use it.
So with the idea she’d been thinking about since 2013, the Minnesota mom texted her daughters, Emily and Kristen, to ask if they’d want to join in on a vision she had. Their response was a resounding yes.
“My wedding dress had been hanging in a clothing bag in the closet for 40 years. I've stored both Emily's and Kristen's dress in our closet as well. I thought it would be special to ‘preserve’ the dresses in a photo. It seems a waste to use them once and keep them in a box forever when they represent one of the most special days of our lives.”
The trio booked an autumn photoshoot date with the confidence their dresses would fit (after 15 years of marriage for Emily and six years for Kristen) … and the knowledge that the fit of Kristen’s dress could be an obstacle the longer they waited. “I did become pregnant in September, so during the photos I was about 10 weeks pregnant … it was a little bit snug. Any further along in my pregnancy and it would have been a challenge!”
Armed with heavy jackets, quilts, and the gorgeous bouquets Debra had assembled the night before, they headed to Como Park in St. Paul on the cold November day.
Debra adds, “For the record, we got them zipped and laced up without any alterations!”
They were still up for the challenge—even with the forecasted 30 degrees and snow flurries that had fallen that morning. Emily’s teenage daughter, Maddy, even joined in on the fun and pitched in to help Debra, Kristen, and Emily relax while handling the jackets and blankets. “(There was) no hesitation; I was on board. I knew it was important to my mom.” Kristen adds.
We wanted to take a ‘wedding’ pictures that focused on the mother/daughter relationship, while, at the same time recognizing our special position as brides.
As you can see, there’s no doubt the photoshoot is full of so many cherished moments between mother and daughters!
“It's one thing to try on your wedding dress in the privacy of your own home. It was a totally different experience putting them on, dressing up, and heading out in public.” Emily says of the day with her mom, sister, and daughter. “The highlights were stopping traffic, a shout of ‘Congratulations’ from someone, warming up in the car, and having the best personal attendant. (Maddy was so helpful and doted on us in every way she could!). The best part of the day was when we had dinner with all our families afterward and found out my sister was expecting a baby!”
Kristen adds, “It was miserably cold. Suffering together and laughing at how cold we were was the worst and the best part of the day. There was a lot of solidarity and bonding in our shivering!”
And the quilts—while keeping the beaming brides warm in between shots—also have a neat backstory adding even more nostalgia. “My mom made the maroon/teal colored quilt in 2012. It is titled ‘1,000 Pyramids.’ I'm sure she has made over 100 quilts and they are all made with precision and love! I chose this one because of the fall colors.”
Debra continues, “The purple quilt is called ‘Double Wedding Ring.’ It is about 80 years old and was made by my grandmother. I chose that one for its name.”
And to top off an already fabulous day? With Kristen’s recent pregnancy, they shared the news with the whole family that evening! “It was a fun day, ending with exciting news about a new baby arriving June 2020!”
Emily mentions there might just be another photoshoot in the future, too. “Maybe after my daughters are married. With all of us again, but that sounds crazy to think about!” For now the dresses are back in storage again and fun memories of a mother-daughter photoshoot that will be cherished forever. Debra thinks all mothers and daughters should share an experience like theirs.
Go for it! Think of ways to extend the happiness and joy of your wedding day that include other generations. Keep making memories!
And really, who doesn’t love looking at vintage photos of our mothers, grandmothers, or great-grandmothers in their wedding dresses? The fads and fashion of the time are so fun to take in … Debra, Emily, Kristen, Maddy, and all their relatives in generations to come will have these new “bridal” photos to add to their beloved photo collection … and that is simply priceless.
So what will you do with your wedding dress after the wedding?
If you’re trying to figure out what to do with your dress and not sure if a future photoshoot is in the cards, there are other great options out there!
✢ Donate it to a cause such as Brides Across America, which provides free wedding dresses for military and first responder brides.
✢ You could repurpose it like a bride in the UK who shortened and dyed her dress!
✢ Sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to make a little money.
✢ Find a seamstress who can repurpose it into a christening gown for your little one(s)
✢ Visit a dry cleaner to clean it and preserve it, then put it into storage for possible future use (daughter/relative/others).
Photography by Lisa Venticinque Photography - St. Paul, MN