Ways To Repurpose Your Mother's Wedding Dress

We specialize in helping brides to incorporate their mother's wedding dresses. Read our tips at The Garter Girl's blog ‚ÄĒ your source for wedding planning advice.

Hi!¬†ūüĎč I'm Juli, The Garter Girl! If you're searching for thoughtful and memorable ways to repurpose your mother's wedding dress - besides just wearing it - we're sharing our best, most helpful advice for ways to reuse a mom's (or grandmother, aunt, mother in law and more!) wedding dress for your big day!¬†

  • You don't have to wear your mom's wedding dress just as she did to feel close to her on your wedding day!
  • There are many unique and creative things you can do¬†to reuse your mom's wedding dress¬†for your wedding day, and repurpose it into a new heirloom to cherish for generations.
  • Repurposed mother's¬†wedding dress ideas include using it to make a custom wedding garter, redesigning it for a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower outfit,¬†using a piece for a wedding handkerchief, a ring bearer pillow, a bridal bouquet wrap,¬†or¬†a patch for the inside of a wedding dress.
  • We also love the ideas of turning your mom's wedding dress or bridal veil into a wedding morning robe, a bomber jacket, custom bridal sneakers, or your own bridal veil.
  • If you're¬†interested in working with The Garter Girl to custom design an heirloom¬†bridal garter, wedding handkerchief, ring pillow and/or wedding dress patch made from your mother's wedding dress, or you¬†all the¬†questions, be sure to make a custom garter design request, and we'll send you more information.¬†

Read on for even more loving ways to have your mom close to your heart on your wedding day....

mother helping daughter get ready for her wedding

Above photo credit:  Real The Garter Girl bride Caitlyn and her mom helping her into her wedding dress.

Today's wedding planning advice blog post is about two of my favorite topics put together: heirlooms and wedding dresses! More specifically, I'm going to give you a few unique ideas for what to do with your mother's wedding dress on your wedding day, besides wearing her dress. Or, maybe you have your grandmother, aunt or your mother in law's bridal veil that is so beautiful, but you aren't quite sure what to do it with it besides wear it just as she did on her wedding day. If you know you want to incorporate a special family heirloom like a wedding dress or bridal veil into your wedding day, but aren't sure your options or even where to start, this is a special one that's near and dear to my heart!

As a wedding garter designer who works with many, many brides and their moms and aunts and cousins and family members from all over, I love helping families bring special materials - materials that they have been holding onto generations - into their new special days. There's always lots of happy tears in my line of work (usually by me!) as families get to experience new life with their precious materials. 

In addition to the ideas for ways to use the dress or repurpose it, I will also give you lots of great places to find these custom, personalized and speciality items - even if you aren't the crafty type to do it yourself. So, look out for the links and my suggested places to shop for items made from your family materials. You know I'm going to give you ideas for turning your mom's wedding dress or grandmother's veil into a bridal garter, but I pinky promise that I have lots more ideas up my sleeve for you too! 

I tell my brides at The Garter Girl this all the time:

You don't have to wear your mother's dress to feel close to her on your wedding day.

There are lots of things that you can do with her dress or veil, and many unexpected and meaningful ways that you can incorporate your mom, your grandmother or special family members into your wedding day so that they are right there with you on your big day.

I got you, trust me! If my moms and grandmothers can trust me to use their wedding dress they've been hanging onto for all of these years, you can trust me too! 

 ways to reuse mother's wedding dress

Above photo credit:  See more of Ashlee's lace wedding garter made from her mom's dress

And now onto the show! Let's talk about the memorable ways that you can repurpose your mom's wedding dress for your wedding day, including making an heirloom wedding garter, a wedding handkerchief, a bridal bouquet wrap, a ring bearer pillow, a wedding dress patch for the inside of the bridal gown, and turning it into more! These are the unique ideas that you might not have thought about yet! 

Heirloom Mother's Dress Wedding Garters

Since 2004, I've become known for making wedding garter and bridal garter sets out of family materials. Whether it's your mom's or grandmother's wedding dress, turning dresses into a garter for the bride to wear on wedding day, love and, most importantly, cherish long after the wedding is over, is kind of my thing.

My signature heirloom wedding garters are handmade by moi. Yes, I cut and sew each stitch myself. (Trust me, cutting your family materials is not my favorite part of the job! But, someone has to do it!) I do all of the personalized embroidery (no machine embroidery here!), tie every bow, and sew each and every pearl myself.

bride getting ready on wedding morning with mom's help putting on her garter

Above photo credit:  Real The Garter Girl bride Olivia's mom is helping her put on her custom wedding garter made with lace and pearls from her mother's wedding dress. 

I get a lot of questions about how the custom wedding garter from a mother's wedding dress process works. The number one question that I get from brides and/or their mothers is:  Do we ship the whole wedding dress to you or do we cut it ourselves? Typically, the bride or her mother will send me the whole wedding dress for me to use in their garter. Most are uncomfortable with cutting the wedding dress themselves, which I completely understand. In the end when everything is completed, I will ship the wedding dress back to them along with their completed customized bridal garter. I don't keep anything of yours, and you have your mom's wedding dress back to reuse again in the future. 

For more information about the family material custom garter design process, be sure to request more information. You can get started right away on a custom wedding garter made from your mom's dress, or get answers to lots of questions. And, believe me, I've been doing this for so long, I know you have lots of questions. I would too! When the time comes for me to repurpose my wedding dress and give to my daughter for her wedding day, I'm going to have lots of questions too! 

 

As I said though, get the tissues ready though, because there are always plenty of happy tears to go around when I make the¬†family heirlooms wedding garters ‚Äď myself included!

But, I Don't Want To Wear My Mom's Wedding Dress

Many brides do not want to wear their wedding dress on their wedding day. I completely understand where the brides are coming from. They want to have a piece of their mother (or grandmother) with them on their wedding day, but they don't want to wear their mother's actual, exact same wedding dress.

It is such a tough call, because their mom has probably saved her wedding dress for all these years with the idea (or hope!) that her daughter would wear it for her wedding day someday. This wedding dress has probably taken up space in their life, maybe moved from house to house, it's been shoved under the bed, hung in the closet, stored in the attic for so long. And, now that their daughter is engaged to be married, they are (finally!) ready to break it out and pass it along to the next generation.

custom garter

Above photo credit:  Lace and pearls from mother's wedding dress for heirlooms.

To all the moms and mother's of the bride out there, I wrote this advice on what to do when your daughter doesn't want to wear your wedding dress. From one mom to another, it is just for you!

But, as a bride, the one getting married, you might have ideas of what you want to wear on your wedding day, maybe you've been dreaming about it since you were a little girl. So just as your mom has been dreaming about you wearing her wedding dress, maybe you've been dreaming about your own wedding dress too! 

Oftentimes, I hear from my brides that they want their own "say yes to the dress" moment of shopping for their dream wedding gown - with their mom included, of course! It's not that they don't love their mom or love their mom's wedding dress, it's more that they want to feel unique and special on their wedding day too, just like mom did! 

RELATED:  Be sure to get my free I said yes to the dress download Instagram graphics, or the free wedding dress shopping voting signs download so that everyone (including your mom!) can share their thoughts on the wedding dresses that you try one. 

Above photo credit:  Something blue wedding garter and ring pillow made from bride's mom's wedding dress.

And all of this being said and I haven't event gotten into the fit and the styling of your mom's wedding dress! After all, wearing it, fitting into your mom's wedding dress, and feeling comfortable might not be an option for every bride, even with an expert bridal alterations person. So many emotions come up when it comes to wedding planning in general and then when you add in family heirlooms and expectations, it's a lot, I know!

But fear not, just because you maybe aren't going to wear your mom's wedding dress exactly as she did on her wedding day, this doesn't mean that all is lost. It's not and all or nothing, black and white situation.

Here are some great and unexpected ways to reuse your mother's or grandmother's wedding dress without actually wearing the same exact wedding dress itself. Because, after all, everybody is different and styles do change, even in bridal!

CREATIVE WAYS TO REUSE YOUR MOTHER'S WEDDING DRESS

Here is a round up of ways to re-use, or repurpose your mother's wedding dress (or grandmother's wedding dress) without actually wearing it as is on your wedding dress to create a new family heirloom. There are so many unique and creative ways to have a piece of your mom with you on your wedding day and start a new family tradition for you to pass onto the next generation.

 

Who knows, with one of these ideas, you might be saving your wedding heirloom from your mom's dress as a keepsake for your daughter to wear on her wedding day some day and she won't want to either! In this case, save this post to come back in the future, you're going to need it! 

1.) Wedding Dress Patch

Perhaps you've seen those pretty patches on the inside of a wedding dress? A patch made from your mom's wedding dress sewn onto the inside of your wedding dress is the ultimate way to have your mom close to you on your wedding day. You can have a patch made and then ask your bridal alternations person to sew it onto the inside of your bridal dress, or simply pin it onto the inside of your dress yourself with a safety pin. 

I love working with my brides to make personalized patches for the inside of their wedding dress made from their mother's wedding dress. Oftentimes, when I have their mom's dress to make them a garter, they want to know what other options they have to make even more heirloom pieces. The patch (and the ring bearer pillow and wedding hanky listed below!) is a great option because it goes on the inside of their wedding dress and it's made from their own mother's dress. A wedding dress patch is oh-so personal and oh-so special! 

Above photo credit: Personalized wedding dress patch made from bride's mother's bridal dress.

If you're in a pinch, pressed for time (Hello, wedding morning and last minute wedding plans!), or don't have someone to make a patch for you, you can simply cut your mother's dress material yourself and pin it onto the inside of your wedding dress.

If you use a safety pin to pin your patch or piece of your mom's dress onto the inside of your wedding dress, consider pinning it on the inside skirt or underlay so that no part of the pin will show on the outside of the bridal dress. Also, be sure to use a safety pin and add it somewhere that won't rub your skin or touch you in anyway. No need for chaffing or uncomfortableness on wedding day! 

Sometimes the¬†personalized wedding dress patches made from a mother's wedding dress¬†are customized even further and hand embroidered in¬†something blue, bride's new monogram,¬†a¬†wedding date, a heart, a special saying or quote ‚Äď the wedding dress patch options are endless!

RELATED:  If you're going to a DIY wedding dress patch, be sure to get my free tips for how to embroider the inside of your wedding dress. This advice can be used for your wedding dress patch - or to embroider the cuffs of the groom's or your partner's dress shirt too! 

If you're going to embroider patch onto the inside of our wedding dress, but you want it to be extra special, my advice is to use the material from your mother's wedding dress for the base of the patch, and then embroidery on top of the heirloom material.  


Design a Personalized Wedding Dress Patch from Your Mom's Dress

If you are looking to personalize your wedding dress with a patch made from your mom's wedding dress and hold something extra close to your heart from your mom on your wedding day, this is a great option! You only need a little bit of material to make a patch for the inside of your bridal dress. If you're interested in a custom wedding dress patch made from your mother's wedding dress, please get in touch with The Garter Girl or fill out the custom wedding garter request form that will send you more information, plus answers to all the questions!

(P.S. You don't need get a wedding garter to work with me! Yes, I specialized in wedding garters, especially custom garters made from the bride's mother's wedding dress, but that's not all that I do! And, I'd be honored to work with you to make something special from your mom's wedding dress or family materials, even if that's not a garter!) 

Custom wedding garter heirlooms handmade from bride's mother's wedding dress by The Garter Girl

Shop Personalized Wedding Dress Patches on Etsy

If you want a little something more for your wedding dress patch, you can also search through Etsy for a customized wedding dress patch. Here is a link to where you can find wedding dress patches on Etsy.

Most of the personalized wedding dress patches that you'll find on Etsy are embroidered with a machine, and thus they can do longer phrases or more specific details. The embroidery that I offer is all done by hand, so it is not as precise as machine embroidery.

Custom wedding dress label


Above photo credit: Custom wedding dress label made by Memory Thread Co

Handwriting Patch for Bride's Dress
Above photo credit: Handwriting patch for bride's dress made Thread The Wick

If you want a personalized quote or a specific saying on your wedding dress patch, be sure to check out these wedding dress patches on Etsy - you're sure to find something you love for your wedding day! 


2.) Alter It

I think many mothers (and mother's of the bride) have this vision that they will save their wedding dress and their daughter will wear it for their own wedding some day. After all, what else are you saving your wedding dress for!?  

RELATED:  If you're looking for gift ideas for mom, be sure to shop my hand picked best wedding gifts for mother's of the bride.

But as a bride, wearing someone else's wedding dress ‚Äď even if it is your mother ‚Äď is tough. The wedding trends change and certainly no two bodies are alike. But, if you have the right alterations person, it can be done and it will look amazing.

If you don't want to wear your mom's wedding dress "as is" there are lots of things that you can do to make it "your own." You can take off sleeves, take out fullness, change necklines ‚Äď the options are endless! One of my favorite wedding dress alterations is to shorten it and wear as a fun wedding reception second dress!

You don't have to wear your redesigned mother's dress just to your wedding. There are lots of other related events leading up to your wedding where you'll want to feel like "the bride" and altering your mom's wedding dress is a great option. This way you can have your own wedding dress for your big day, but still honor your mom and make use of her wedding dress too.

Custom Wedding dress design and sewing
Above photo credit: custom wedding dress design and sewing by Caribis Atelier UA

RELATED: If you're into bridal fashion, and it feels like you might be since you're here, be sure to get our free Ultimate Bridal Fashion Timeline Wedding Outfit Planning Guide. This guide will tell you exactly what to order wedding, so you don't miss out. Unlike just about anything with wedding planning, did we mention it's totally free? 

You can wear your repurposed mother's wedding dress it to other wedding adjacent events, such as your bridal shower outfit or a rehearsal dinner look. You can wear it to just your wedding ceremony and then change into a different dress (your mom's altered dress!) for your wedding reception dress or an after party bridal look.

Custom garters made from cousins grandmother's robe by The Garter Girl

 

Pro Tip:  If you are going to wear your mother's wedding dress and have it tailored to fit your body or adjusted in anyway, I can't stress enough the importance of working with an experience and trusted alterations person, hopefully someone who has experience with bridal. There are many tailors out there and when it comes to bridal alterations of any kind, you really do pay for what you get. With something so special and important in your family, like your mom's or grandmother's dress, it so important that you're working with an experienced alternations expert with experience in bridal wear. 

My last tip here about reimagining your mom's wedding dress and wearing it for another wedding related event (or even for your wedding day!) is to truly make sure that your are not only happy with your choice, but also, and more importantly, comfortable in the dress itself. If you are feeling weird, or uncomfortable, or it isn't laying right, or your mom's dress doesn't make you feel amazing, it will show all over your face. You'll have a miserable time thinking about the dress and worried that you don't feel comfortable in it. So, while I love this option for many brides, I want to caution you to only wear your mom's wedding dress altered if it makes you feel as amazing as you are!

True Story: Altered Mom's Wedding Dress

I had a bride come to me recently to make her a custom wedding garter from her mother's wedding dress. She didn't want to ship me her mom's entire wedding dress. The the train and all of the other pieces, it would have been just too much and she was uncomfortable with sending her mom's entire wedding dress. What did she do? She cut the sleeves off her mom's wedding dress and sent them to me.

Once she saw her mother's wedding dress without the sleeves, she decided that she loved it! Yes, it was like a totally new dress and she was in love! She had her mom's wedding dress altered to fit her a little bit better and then wore it to her wedding's rehearsal dinner. 

custom garters

Above photo credit:  Four wedding garters made for sisters and cousins from their aunt's wedding dress oversized flowers.

By the time she figured out that she loved her mom's wedding dress without the sleeves, she already had her dream wedding dress picked out and ordered, but she didn't have anything for the rehearsal dinner out...and her mom's wedding dress altered was the perfect idea!

I handmade a custom wedding garter for my bride from the sleeves of her mother's wedding dress that she sent me. Then, she took her mom's dress to the alterations person at her bridal dress shop and altered the dress just slightly from to fit her body. On the night before her wedding, she wore her mom's wedding dress to her rehearsal dinner and then on her wedding day, she wore a custom heirloom garter made from her mom's wedding dress!

True story! 

Before you cast off your mother's wedding dress as terribly out of style or it will never fit you, think about it more closely. Can you alter it? Can you make a few changes so that you'll love it? Could you wear it to a wedding adjacent event, such as your rehearsal dinner or wedding after party?

Maybe!

3.) Wedding Ring Bearer Pillow

Cue the cuteness right now! If you want a unique and totally adorable way to reuse your mother's wedding dress, consider using her dress to make a wedding ring bearer pillow. Just imagine that cutie ring bearer coming down the aisle with a wedding ring pillow made from your mom's wedding dress? And then what if he is a nephew or family member, or your own child?!

Oh, I'm getting so teary just thinking about the sentiment and memories here! 

wedding ring pillow insert
Above photo credit: wedding ring pillow insert sold by Uniik Stuff store via Amazon

A ring pillow would also be a great reuse option for your grandmother's dress - so many generations going down the wedding ceremony aisle! Talk about a family heirloom that will last for generations. You could even pass it around in your family for everyone to use. It's your new family wedding heirloom!

 

To make a wedding ring bearer pillow extra special and an instant heirloom, you can add material from your mother's wedding dress to the pillow. You can make the whole ring bearer pillow from the her wedding dress material, or you could purchase plain a pillow from a craft store or Amazon and add your own decorations from your mom's dress and/or your grandmother's veil.

One of my favorite ways to make a ring bearer pillow from a wedding dress is to use the dress lining for the base of the pillow and then use the decorations from the outside of the dress as the details on the pillow. Here  are a few of the family wedding dress materials that I've turned into wedding ring bearer pillows. Each ring pillow is so unique and different, because no two mom's wedding dresses are alike!

Pro Tip:  If you purchase a plain wedding ring bearer pillow and you plan to DIY pillow made from your mother's dress, you could carefully hand sew or hot glue the lace and beads onto the pillow. (Be very, very, very careful with the glue and vintage wedding dresses, especially vintage lace -  it can go really wrong, really fast!)

custom garter and ring pillow

 

For a wedding ring bearer pillow, you could use just about any part of the vintage wedding dress ‚Äď the sleeves, the neckline or stripes of lace ‚Äď any part! You'll only need a little bit of material for a small pillow, so you have more options of what parts of the dress to use.

Don't forget to sew a little piece of ribbon or something similar in the middle of the pillow. This is what you'll use to attach the rings (or fake rings, if your ring bearer is too little)!

4.) Tulle Skirt for Bride or Flower Girl

If you are going to have a flower girl or two at your wedding, you could turn the tulle lining from your mother's wedding dress into a custom heirloom tulle skirt for the flower girl. Some of the vintage wedding dresses, or the 1980's era wedding dresses have plenty of tulle and lining underneath the main part of the wedding dress that you could use for a flower girl tulle skirt.

Heck, you could even make a bridal tulle skirt for yourself!

I've seen my share of wedding dresses from mom's over the years and there is plenty of tulle and material underneath some of those dresses to work with. However, if your mom's dress doesn't have a lot of tulle underneath and since the flower girl is small, you won't need as much tulle as you think to make an heirloom tulle skirt for your flower girl.

What flower girl wouldn't love wearing a beautiful tulle skirt to twirl around in on her, err I mean your, wedding day!?

You can find someone on Etsy to make you a custom tulle skirt for a flower girl.

long tulle skirt
Above photo credit: Long Tulle Skirt made by Sweet Pea and Buttercup


Cupcake Style Tulle Skirt

Above photo credit: cupcake style tulle skirt made by 1000 love

rose gold peony tulle bridal skirt

Above photo credit: rose gold peony tulle bridal skirt made by Wardrobe By Dulcinea

5.) Bridal Bouquet Wrap

If you're planning to have a bridal bouquet and you want a unique and totally special idea to reuse your mother's wedding dress, consider a bridal bouquet wrap. You could use your mom's dress as a material to wrap around the bottom of your bridal bouquet so that when you carry your bouquet, you're essentially carrying your mom! Love, love, love this idea! 

bridal bouquet wrap made from Mom's wedding dress
Above photo credit: bridal bouquet wrap made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by cutie girlie

What is a Bridal Bouquet Wrap

A bouquet wrap is a small piece of fabric that goes around the flower stems or handle of a bridal bouquet so that when the bride holds her bouquet, she holding onto the wrap, and not holding directly onto flower stems.

Without a customized bridal bouquet wrap (hopefully made from your mom's wedding dress!), most florists will wrap ribbon or soft material (sometimes in your wedding color!) around the base of the bridal bouquet stems so the bride isn't holding onto wet or uncomfortable flower stems.

Easy DIY Bridal Bouquet Wrap from Mom's Dress

Since your your wedding florist will most likely need something to wrap around your bridal bouquet to cover those gorgeous stems, consider making your own from your mom's wedding dress. So, when you're walking down the aisle and holding your bridal bouquet you're literally holding a piece of your mom at the same time! Awwwww!

An easy-peasy wedding DIY project would be to make a simple bridal bouquet wrap from your mother's wedding dress. Simply, trim off a long piece of your mother's wedding dress and have the florist use this heirloom material instead of their own ribbon. Or, most likely, they will use their ribbon as the base and then use your heirloom dress material on top as the decoration.

If you're in a pinch or last minute and don't want to give your cut dress material to your florist, simple wrap the cut material around your bridal bouquet yourself and tuck in the ends. Done and done! 

You will need a long piece of the dress material that is a few inches wide most likely from the hem (or bottom) of the wedding dress. Smooth and soft sections¬†of the lining or the skirt of the wedding dress would be ideal here. Sections of the dress that have beads or buttons or lace might not be the best for the bouquet wrap,¬†because you'll have to hold it and you don't want to hold beads ‚Äď it will hurt your hand after a while!

While pearls and buttons can be beautiful as decorations on a bouquet wrap, I really caution you to think about how you're holding your bridal bouquet before you add details. You might want to skip the decorations and opt for a comfortable and soft piece of material.

I'm obsessed with all of these custom bridal bouquet wraps that I found on Etsy. You could easily add a bit of material from your mom's wedding dress to any of these pre-made bridal bouquet wraps. 

Bridal Bouquet Wrap Alternative

A wedding handkerchief as a bridal bouquet wrap alternative - consider it a wedding twofer! If you're thinking about using your mom's dress as a bridal bouquet wrap, but want an alternative solution, consider using a personalized wedding handkerchief with material from your mom's dress as your bridal bouquet wrap.

Custom wedding hanky made from mother's wedding dress, bridal bouquet alternative by The Garter Girl

Above photo credit:  Bridal bouquet wrap alternative of wedding handkerchief made from the bride's mother's wedding dress.

If you make a wedding handkerchief using a piece from your mom's wedding dress, such as the lace, and you use that hankie to wrap around the stems of your bridal bouquet as a wrap, it's a double duty wedding accessory, because you can also use your heirloom hanky to wipe all those happy tears! 

Just like with a traditional bridal bouquet wrap, you'll be able to hold your mom in your hands as you walk down the aisle, except that by making your bouquet wrap from your heirloom hankie, you can reuse your hanky, and pass it on as a heirloom in your family for other brides - and grooms! - to use in their wedding. 

I get lots of requests to make custom wedding hankies using the bride's mother's wedding dress material. I will usually add lace and other personalized details like their wedding date or initials embroidered to the wedding handkerchief and my brides are using their hanky as a bridal bouquet wrap. 

Just like with a traditional bridal bouquet wrap, the same rules apply with a wedding hanky double dipping as a bouquet wrap. You want to avoid the pearls and sequins from your mom's dress on the hankie, as they could be really uncomfortable to hold along with your bridal bouquet. And see below about wiping your face with a wedding hankie with sequins - ouch!

6.) Heirloom Wedding Handkerchief

How about a heirloom wedding handkerchief made from your mother's wedding dress?

I know we just talked about using a wedding handkerchief as a bridal bouquet wrap alternative (see above). So now let's talk about one of the most popular ways to reimagine your mom's wedding dress for your big day without having to wear it - and that's using pieces of your moms wedding dress to make a wedding handkerchief. You know, for all of those happy tears!

Many of my brides, moms, aunt, future in-laws and families come to me for customized wedding handkerchief made from their mother's wedding dress. In addition to garters, I've made thousands of wedding handkerchiefs over the years and truly, no two are ever alike. Each mother's wedding dress is different and each bride has a different style and preferences, thus my custom family heirloom handkerchiefs never look the same. 


For the custom hankies from your family materials, the design and production process is very similar to that of the custom garters. Brides and/or mom's of brides will send me their wedding dress materials, and whatever they send me, is what I'll use to make a custom handkerchief. As you can see from a lot of the photos and the work that I've done over the years, you don't need a lot of material from your mom's wedding dress to make something truly magical.

Usually a little bit can go a long way! I've made wedding garter heirlooms from just a single button from a mom's wedding dress!

Quite often, we'll make more than one hanky, so that the mom can have a one too. Also, they will often make a customized wedding hanky for their grandmother or the groom or a sister - wedding handkerchiefs are a family affair and are such a wonderful wedding gift.

Wedding handkerchiefs are not just for the brides. I have made many custom wedding hankies and pocket squares for grooms and brothers and sons from their mother's wedding dress material. 

custom family heirloom handkerchiefs

How to Make DIY Wedding Handkerchief from Mom's Dress Material

Making a wedding hanky using a piece of your mom's wedding dress material isn't quite as easy as a bridal bouquet wrap (see above DIY instructions!), but if you can do a basic sewing stitch you can DIY a wedding handkerchief using materials from your mom's wedding dress.

First: To make a DIY wedding handkerchief out of the dress materials, I highly recommend that you purchase a plain white or ivory handkerchief from Etsy, or you and find a simple white cotton handkerchief from Amazon.

You'll want to wipe those tears away with new, fresh material and you'll want something that you can wash afterwards. Most wedding dresses are made of satin or silk, which can be hard to wash, plus if it is your mother's dress, it is probably old and yellowed. It's better to go with a new, fresh hanky like these beautiful white scalloped edge handkerchiefs I found on Etsy.

I also love these modern white handkerchiefs, they would be perfect to add a bit of material from your mother's wedding dress and wipe away all of those happy tears at the wedding!

plain white handkerchief with scalloped edge

Above photo credit: plain white handkerchief with scalloped edge sold by Mozeat Lens via Amazon

Second: Once you have your plain hanky, then use your dress materials as the details or decorations on the handkerchief. You'll want to cut out the lace pieces or the details that you want to use and then hand sew them onto the handkerchief. 

Third:  If you want to personalize your DIY wedding handkerchief from your mother's dress material even further by adding embroidery, be sure to check out our how to embroider the inside of a wedding dress. These instructions will be so helpful with your customized wedding hanky too!

Custom wedding hanky family heirloom by The Garter Girl

Above photo credit:  A family heirloom wedding handkerchief with family wedding dates and made from the great grandmother's wedding night robe.

 

Pro tip:  Avoid sequins, buttons and pearls for your DIY wedding handkerchief using your mom's materials. These pieces may be beautiful and gorgeous, but they are not nice rubbed on your face. You might actually want to use your heirloom wedding handkerchief to wipe your face or to dap tears away, and if there are sequins on it or pearls, you will scratch your beautiful face. Stick to the smooth and soft materials for your DIY wedding handkerchief, like satin and laces. Be careful, some 1980's wedding dresses love to glue the pearls onto the lace! 

Another pro tip:  You'll also want to avoid gluing your mom's dress pieces onto your handkerchief. I know that sewing might not be your favorite thing in the whole world and it is tempting to get it done with glue, even fabric glue, however glue does not dry softly. If you're planning to DIY a wedding handkerchief with your mom's wedding dress material, you really need to sew the material onto the handkerchief.

Even thought it might say that the glue is washable or it is soft, most glue dries hard and is not something that you want to wipe your face with one wedding day. Plus, with your mom's dress material you are talking about using vintage and delicate material and oftentimes glue will ruin the very delicate material. 

 

7.) Bridal Purse or Wedding Clutch
 

Have you thought about using the material or the lace from your mother's wedding dress in a wedding day purse or a bridal clutch? There are a handful of hand makers and artisans on Etsy who specialize in taking the material from your mom's dress and using it to make a bridal purse. 

Sometimes they will make the whole purse out of your mom's wedding dress, or they will use the details from the dress, like the the lace and pearls, to decorate the bridal purse. I've even seen where they will use your mother's wedding dress material as the inside lining of the bridal purse - so special!

These little beauties are so cute, I can't get enough! 

heirloom clutch made from mom's wedding dress

Above photo credit: heirloom clutch made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by Juniper and Lace

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bridal purse made from Mom's wedding dress
Above photo credit: bridal purse made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by JemDesign 567

I love the idea of having a bridal purse or clutch made using your mother's wedding dress material. This is truly a keepsake that you can save for after your wedding and use as an evening bag or fancy clutch for a special date night out. Every time you use your bridal purse from your wedding, you'll not only remember your wedding day, but you'll be taking a piece of your mom with you. 

Love this!

8.) Bridal Veil

If you're thinking of ways to reusing your mom's weding dress on your wedding day besides wearing her dress just as she did, consider turning your mother's wedding dress into a bridal veil for you. This option is so beautiful and special, I almost can't stand it! 

If you don't want to wear your mom's wedding dress, but she's saved it all these years for you to make use of now that you're getting married, I love the idea of having her dress turn into a custom bridal veil. Your mom's dress reimagined into a custom bridal eil works well if there is lace on your mom's dress, perhaps around the hem or down the back. Or perhaps your mom's wedding dress has lace all over it. Your bridal seamstress can cut off the lace and repurpose it into a gorgeous and special bridal veil for your wedding day. 

We have our own curated list of where to show for unique bridal veils, but if you're looking for something a little more personalized, we are obsessed with deMelis Atelier's work to turn mother's wedding dresses into bridal veils. She is by far the best bridal seamstress in New England, but just like me with the custom wedding garters, you can simply ship your mom's dress to her and she will turn it into a one-of-a-kind bridal veil made from you mother's wedding dress. (I've even shipped her wedding dress after I'm done making a wedding garter!) 

custom bridal veil made from mom's wedding dress
Above photo credit: custom bridal veil made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by deMelis Atelier

9.) Custom Sneakers

Ok, so this idea is more for what to do with your mom's bridal veil and not so much with her wedding dress, but I'm so obsessed with it that I have to share.

What about using your mom's, your grandmother's or your aunt's bridal veil to make a custom pair of bridal sneakers!? Yes, a pair of super fun bridal sneakers can be made with your mother's wedding veil. 

custom bridal sneakers made from mom's wedding veil
Above photo credit: custom bridal sneakers made from Mom's wedding veil handmade by deMelis Atelier

Custom bridal sneakers from your mom's wedding veil would be perfect to wear on your wedding day. They would be so comfortable and give you one less thing to worry about! Plus with most wedding dresses, you're wearing a huge ball gown style skirt so no one would know that you'e wearing sneakers with your bridal dress - unless you wanted them too because your bridal sneakers were made with pieces from your mom's wedding veil!

You could wear bridal sneakers from mom's dress or veil them all day long from start to finish, of you could wear bridal heels or fancier shoes for there ceremony (or when you're feet can't take it anymore!), and change into your custom bridal sneakers from your mom's wedding veil after your ceremony is over for the reception or after party. You know, for all of that dancing!

Can you just imagine doing a quick outfit change, pulling your hair into a fun bridal pony tail, and coming out in an adorable after party dress and a cute pair of custom sneakers made from your mom's bridal veil for your after party! I just love it!

If you only have your mom's wedding dress or there's not a lot of detail on her bridal veil, fear not! You can still have custom bridal sneakers made - or any of the items that I've outlines here in this post about unique ways to reuse your mom's wedding dress. Many vintage wedding dresses have flowers or pieces of lace that could be added to sneakers. It all depends on the style of wedding dress or bridal veil that you have from your mother or grandmother to work with. I tell my brides all the time - what you have will determine what's possible with your heirloom wedding dress!

If you need some inspiration, we've curated this list of the best custom bridal sneakers and where to shop for them, but they aren't as cute at the custom bridal sneakers made from your mom's veil from deMelis Atelier.  We are obessed to say the least! 

DIY Bridal Sneakers from Mother's Wedding Veil

As far as wedding DIY's go, this one isn't too bad. All you need is a plain pair of white sneakers, a hot glue gun and some imagination. To DIY this option of making a custom pair of sneakers from your mom's bridal veil, you simply have to pull or cut off the flowers and details from the crown of her veil and hot glue them on to plain white pair of sneakers.

The best kind of sneakers are canvas or something that you can hot glue items onto. I wouldn't recommend leather or faux leather shoes for this project, as it might be difficult for the hot glue to stick!

Depending on the look and style of your mother's bridal veil will determine what your bridal sneakers will look like. It's hard for me to tell you what exactly to do because each bridal veil is different. If it has faux flowers or pieces of lace at the crown, those are pieces that you can pull or cut off and hot glue onto your plain canvas sneakers. 

In most vintage bridal veils or crowns, like what your mother probably wore on her wedding day, the lace pieces were glued on, so you'll have to carefully peel them off. If her bridal veil crown has faux flowers or sparkles or crystals, you can do your best to cut them off to arrange on your bridal sneakers. 

The sky is the limit to design your bridal sneakers from your mom's wedding dress. You can make them match by placing the same exact pieces on each sneaker or you can have them be mismatched. I recommend focusing on your detail on the outside of the shoe, the back of the shoe and the top of the toe area, instead of the inside.

Start with just a little dab of the hot glue directly onto the lace piece, flower or whatever you want to put onto the sneaker and then press it onto the sneaker. Once it hardens after about a minute, you can add more glue to secure the item in place. You might also like the 3-D, texturized look of pieces moving while you walk!  

Lastly, be sure to let your hot glue dry fully and completely before trying the bridal sneakers on. With the hot glue you can get little "hairs" or strings of glue that hang off of your project, so when it fully dries you can pull off the stray pieces of glue that might be dangling off. Also, don't wear the shoe while you're gluing the pieces on - that's just a recipe for getting burned!

plain white platform sneakers
Above photo credit: plain white platform sneakers sold by Sernial store via Amazon

cordless hot glue gun
Above photo credit: cordless hot glue gun sold by Surebonder store via Amazon

 

You can make laces too! If you want to get extra fancy, you can consider making shoe laces for your bridal sneakers from your mom's bridal veil. Simply cut a long, thin piece of tulle and gently thread it through the holes to the sneakers to make laces. Then repeat this process for the other shoe.

As a pro tip from someone who has cut hundreds for bridal veils in my day, I would first take out the laces that came with the shoes that you purchased, and lay the laces out along the tulle so that you know how much tulle to cut. Even though laces are thin, I would cute tulle at least a 2 inches wide so that it doesn't tear when you're threading it through the sneakers. 

Tulle will stretch, depending on which way you cut it. But, that's OK! When you tie your bow, cut off any ends that are too long. I'd rather see you cut too much vs. too little because you can always trim off the extra ends. The same with the tulle width, if you find that it is too thick, you can always undo your laces, and trim off a little bit to make your laces thinner and more delicate. But, you don't want to start out with a piece that is too thin because you can't add more tulle. You'll have to cut another piece and with the vintage bridal veil from your mom, you might not have enough of a long piece of tulle for lots of mistakes and re-dos. 

My last tips for making custom tulle shoe laces from your mom's bridal veil is to cut the tulle for first shoe lace and thread it through the sneakers before you cut the second piece. Like I said above, you only have so much of your mother's bridal veil to work with, so it's best to cut just a little bit first to see how you like it before cutting the second piece of tulle for the shoe lace. 

10.) Bomber Jacket

If you're looking and searching for the absolute most unique way to reusing your mother's wedding dress, it is to turn it into a bridal bomber jacket. Yes, a bomber jacket that you can wear anytime you want to feel fancy and close to your mother. I'm excited just sharing this totally unique and ultra creative way to repurpose your mother's wedding dress. 

Our friend at deMelis Atelier - the best bridal dress seamstress in the Connecticut, New York area and New England - is by far the most creative and talented seamstress that I know. And what's more, she's totally chic and knows what real brides in the real world actually want to wear. A bridal bomber jacket is a lovely and thoughtful way to reuse your mother's wedding dress and its completely stylish too!

bridal bomber jacket made from Mom's wedding dress
Above photo credit: bridal bomber jacket made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by deMelis Atelier

You can wear your bridal bomber jacket any day of the week or for a special night out post wedding, but leading up to your wedding, we love a bridal bomber jacket made from your mom's wedding dress for wearing to your bridal shower, your wedding's rehearsal dinner or night before wedding welcome party. You know for those times before the wedding when you want to feel like "the bride" but not wear your actual wedding dress.

On the wedding day, you could wear your bridal bomber jacket at your wedding reception, or do an outfit change and come out with a cute short wedding dress or bridal jumpsuit and a custom bridal bomber jacket. So many options and ways that you be wear and rewear a custom bridal bomber jacket made from your mother's wedding dress. 

A custom bomber jacket is also an awesome way to reuse your own wedding dress after your wedding, but that's a whole other post for a whole other day! We're just talking about mother's wedding dresses here.

11.) Wedding Morning Bridal Robe

Have you thought about what you're going to wear on your wedding morning to get ready? We have a collection of where to shop for pretty bridal robes, or matching rompers and PJ sets for bride and bridesmaid (cue amazing getting ready with your girls photos!), BUT if you're hoping to make your wedding morning even more personal, consider turning your mom's wedding dress into a bridal robe. 

Yes, that's right, you can have your mother's wedding dress reimagined into a beautiful wedding morning keepsake that you can wear again and again - even after your wedding day is over. Just imagine those beautiful wedding morning photos of you getting ready for your big day in a super special robe made from your mother's wedding dress. We're getting teary eye just thinking about it! 

Once again, the bridal seamstress with the mostest, deMelisAtelier, is able to expertly turn your mom's wedding dress into a beautiful robe for your wedding morning.

custom bridal robe made from Mom's wedding dress
Above photo credit: bridal robe made from Mom's wedding dress handmade by deMelis Atelier

While a bridal robe isn't for every mother's wedding dress, it's definitely great for those of you who have lots (and lots!) of material from your mom's wedding dress. Over the years, I've had brides and mother's send me just bits and pieces of what they have left from their vintage wedding dress to make a custom wedding garter.

A bridal robe is not for you, if you don't have lots of material to work with. But, for those of you who have those huge 1980's wedding dresses with lots of satin, pearls and lace, a bridal robe could be such a special and creative way to reuse your mother's wedding dress.  

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Video:  Ways To Reuse Your Mother's Wedding Dress

I've given you so much info in this post, like a lot! There are many ways to reuse your mom's wedding dress, so I decide to break it all down into a quick video for you, if you are the watching type. Check this out if you like to watch your wedding advice instead of read...

 

If this video doesn't show up, click here.

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Will you reuse or repurpose your mother's wedding dress? Will you wear your mom's wedding dress, but alter it to fit you for your rehearsal dinner or another wedding adjacent event?

What other ways are there to use your mother's wedding dress that I haven't listed here?

I'm a mom myself, and I can't wait to work with my daughter and future daughter's in law to let them repurpose my wedding dress into whatever they can dream of!

I hope that this post full of sentimental and creative ways to reimagine your mom's wedding dress inspired you. More importantly, I hope that it gave you the confidence to cut your wedding dress or let it take on a new life as something special for your family.

I'd be so honored to work with you to create a new family heirloom that your entire family will cherish for generations to come. You can contact The Garter Girl or make a request for a custom wedding garter design. if custom isn't your thing, you can shop our full wedding heirloom and garter collection for ready-to-ship wedding garters.

 

With so much love, The Garter Girl

 

 

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how to reuse mother's wedding dress without wearing it