My Daughter Doesn't Want To Wear My Wedding Dress!

custom garter set made from mother of the bride's dress

This one is for all of my mothers of the bride out there who are feeling frustrated that their daughter doesn't want to wear their wedding dress on her wedding day. Not only that, they are wondering what to do with their own now-vintage wedding dress that it taking up huge amounts of space in their closet and life!

I may just be a wedding garter designer, but I'm a mom too! Moreover, I've dealt with many, many, many mothers of the bride over the years. I've hand made hundreds of wedding garter heirlooms out of the mother's and grandmother's wedding dresses and veils each one more unique and special than the next!

The biggest take away from this post, if you read no farther is this:  Your daughter does not need to wear your wedding dress to feel close to you on her wedding day. She love you for YOU, not for your wedding dress!

Got it? OK! Let's go...

custom bridal garter made from the mother's wedding dress
Photo Credit: Emily Belson Photography

But, I Saved My Wedding Dress For Her!

Did you save your wedding dress for years (and years!) with the hope that one day your daughter would wear it on her wedding day? But, now that your daughter's wedding day is approaching she doesn't want to wear your old, dated, ugly, ill-fitting (her words, not mine!) wedding dress? She wants her own bridal gown, a wedding dress that is in her own style that she picked out all on her own? She wants her own bridal boutique shopping experience with you and her bridesmaids?

Frankly, wearing your wedding dress is not making her bride-to-be dreams come true!

Whatever the reason she doesn't want to wear your dress on her big day, are you a mother of the bride and you are sad, frustrated or hurt that your daughter doesn't want to wear your wedding dress on her wedding day?

If so, I totally understand! Just know that you are not alone! Many mothers of the bride out there are sad, maybe even a little upset, when they come to terms with the fact that their daughter doesn't want to even consider wearing their wedding dress on her wedding day!

She doesn't even want to try it on! Nope, nada, it is not happening! It is her wedding day and your wedding dress is a no go!

Maybe you went through the effort to have your wedding dressed cleaned and preserved after your own wedding. Your bridal gown took up all that space in your closet, or your attic or your basement for all those years. Maybe you even moved your wedding dress from house to house as your family moved and changed. Every time you looked under the bed and saw your wedding dress, you had these lovely dreams of your daughter wearing it on her big day and floating down the aisle in wedded bliss!

Are YOU this mother of the bride to be? Does all of this sound familiar? 

Mother of The Bride vs. The Bride

As you go through this wedding planning journey with your daughter, you are probably learning (maybe the hard way, maybe not!) that your thoughts, dreams, and expectations of what your daughter's wedding day would be like are totally different from what her thoughts, dreams and expectations of what her wedding day will be like. 

This is true of raising a child though in general, not just wedding planning with one, right!?

As a parent, it is really hard to come to terms with the different expectations and dreams that you have and the dreams and expectations that your kids have for themselves. What is even harder, is having to sit back and allow your child to be who they were meant to be and to live their life on their own terms. Really hard. I know, I have three kids, myself!! 

But, navigating the mother of the bride and bride relationship throughout the entire the wedding planning process is another post for another day! I could talk for hours about this issue and you are here to find out what to do with your wedding dress! 

wedding dress patch made from mother's wedding dress

What To Do When Your Daughter Doesn't Want To Wear Your Wedding Dress

Today, I'm going to share with you my advice for what to do when your daughter doesn't want to wear your wedding dress. I will talk about how to be OK with your daughter not wearing your wedding dress, and give you some ideas on how to have your wedding dress a part of your daughter's wedding day...even if she isn't wearing it.

Remember, we talked about this at the very beginning:

Your daughter doesn't have to wear your wedding dress to feel close to you on her wedding day! She loves you no matter what! It is annoying that she doesn't want to wear your dress, but it isn't the end of the world!

Don't forget that, OK!?

Here we go...

It Might Not Be About You

First things first, you have to keep in mind that it might not be about you. OK, not just "might." It is NOT about you! Just because your daughter doesn't want to wear your dress doesn't mean that she doesn't love you. Say it over and over again, "Its not about me, she loves me no matter what!"

Maybe she had her own idea in her head of what she would walk down the aisle in on her big day and your dress isn't even close to that idea. Maybe she has been dreaming out what she will wear her whole life and just never shared those dreams with you. After all, your bridal styles maybe be totally different, and that is OK!

Maybe your wedding dress doesn't fit her just right and she doesn't feel confident and comfortable. Maybe the idea of walking down the aisle in something that doesn't fit right is making her even more nervous than she already is about walking down that aisle making one of the biggest decisions of her life!

Whatever her reason for not wanting to wear your wedding dress, just know that it has nothing to do with you and your relationship with her. She still loves you even if your wedding dress - although so gorgeous when you wore it - is not her style!

Pick Your Battles

Yes, I know that your wedding dress took up all that space in your closet and you moved it three different times to three different houses, but those are not reasons for your daughter to wear your wedding dress on her day.

She should wear your wedding dress because she wants to, because it makes her feel good, because it fits like a glove. Not because you saved it for all of these years and you want her to wear it. 

Remember, your daughter didn't ask you to store your wedding dress, you made that choice for her. It was extremely nice and thoughtful of you to save your dress and give her the option of wearing your wedding dress, but now that she doesn't want to wear it, it is OK!

There will be so many battles and fights in planning a wedding, don't let what she wears walking down the aisle be a source of drama in the mother-daughter relationship. Fight about the wedding cake instead. Now, desert, that is something to fight about!

Its Her Day

I know, I know you've probably heard this over and over again by now. You are sick of everyone telling you that it is your daugther's wedding day not yours! But, it is worth repeating: This is her wedding day. This is truly about her and her partner and their love and their union and them starting a life together.

Yes, you are there to support your daughter and help to guide her through this wedding planning journey and maybe you are even on the hook to pay the bill (that's between you two, I'm not even getting into who pays for what at wedding)!!

Your daughter needs you to support her through life and wedding planning, because it is really hard and confusing and time consuming. She doesn't you to make her feel bad or guilty about any of her choices, even if that includes her choosing not to wear your wedding dress on her day.

She Loves You Regardless

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Your daughter loves you for you, not for your wedding dress. You might have worn the most hideous dress on your wedding day in her mind, but she still loves you. She doesn't hold your wedding day fashion choices over your head, so don't hold her choices over her head either.

You both probably have totally different fashion styles and let's be honest: bridal fashion changes. What can seem timeless and classic one year, can feel so old and dated the next. Now, imagine bridal fashion 20 years later! Bridal gown styles and trends change - even in weddings!

Remember, your daughter loves you regardless of what you wore on your wedding day and you should too.

ring pillow and garter set made from mother's wedding dress

Ideas For What To Do With Your Wedding Dress (Beside Wear It):

OK, now that you've come to terms with the fact that your daughter isn't going to wear your bridal gown on her wedding day, what are you supposed to do with your wedding dress!? 

(If you haven't gotten over this point and you are still holding out hope that she will eventually wear your dress, read the steps above over and over until it sinks in!)

The fact remains: You've been holding on your wedding dress for many years now, your daughter doesn't want to wear it on her wedding day and this massive dress is is taking up space in your closet and your life! What are you supposed to do with your (now vintage!) wedding dress?

Here are some ideas for what to do with your wedding dress:

  • Garter:  Make a custom wedding garter out of your dress for your daughter. You know I love making garters out of family materials such as your wedding dress. Look through my family wedding garter heirloom page for more details and photos of wedding dress garters! 
  • Bouquet Wrap:  Use a satin or lace piece of your dress for a bridal bouquet wrap for your daughter. Be sure to let your florist know that you are interested in doing this and ask your florist for how long of piece you'll need.
  • Ring Pillow:  Make a wedding ring pillow out of your dress. If the wedding dress is very detailed, you can even use the under lining as the base of the pillow and then use the decorations from the dress as the decorations for the pillow. Don't forget to put a ribbon in the center of the pillow so you can attach their wedding rings with that cutie ring bearer walks it down the aisle! 
  • Dress Patch:  (This might be my second favorite thing to do beside make a garter from the dress!) Use a small piece of your dress and make a patch for the inside of your daughter's dress. If you are scared to cut the main part of the dress, the under lining of your wedding dress is perfect for a patch because it is plain and simple. You can embroider the patch with anything you want, like a heart or her new monogram, or your wedding date and her wedding date - so many options! (If you need help, check out my post for how to embroider the inside of your wedding dress!) 
  • Decor Throughout The Wedding:  Use your wedding dress for anywhere that you need fabric at your daughter's wedding. I've seen the escort card displays covered in dress fabric. I've seen gorgeous silk napkins and table runners for the heatable made from mom's wedding dress. I've seen pillows for the wedding reception lounge area made out of the mother's wedding dress! Keep your sensors up and when they start talking about fabric needs for the decor of her wedding know that you have some really amazing fabric that they can use! Remember, you can use not just the outside of the dress, but also the inside lining. 
  • After The Wedding:  Save your wedding dress for even longer and use it to make a Baptism or Christening dress for your grandchild. If your dress has tons of fabric, you might be able to do a few of the above items and still have enough to make a dress for your future grandchild. Remember, a wedding garter, for example, isn't that big, so it only uses a very small amount of fabric. When I'm finished making the custom wedding garters out of your dress, I always send back whatever materials that I don't use and many mothers tell me that they will be using the remaining pieces of their dress for a Baptismal gown for their future grandchild. 

 wedding garter made from sleeve of mother's bridal gown

So, I think that about covers what to if your daughter doesn't want to wear your wedding dress on her wedding day. Did you remember the number one thing I told you to remember??

Your daughter doesn't need to wear your dress to feel close to you and to feel your love on her wedding day. She loves you no matter what, even if your wedding dress is so totally hideous (in her mind!)!

If you are interested in a custom wedding garter made from your wedding dress, please send me an email at You can also very my custom wedding garter album right here and find out more about the family wedding garter heirloom process on my website.

I can't wait to work with you and make an amazing wedding heirloom from your wedding dress that your daughter will love forever! I've been known to cry happy tears of joy right along with my mothers of the bride when they see their heirloom garter for the first time! I can't wait to cry with you! 


wedding day emergency kit - pre-packed bridal fashion emergency kit from The Garter Girl