When it's time to let go of your wedding dress.

Three weeks after my wedding I deposited a large bundle of white silk into my dry cleaner’s arms, told her “do your best” with the inch deep red wine stain that spanned the entire hem … and ran. When I picked it up she’d worked some serious magic. I was amazed the dress I’d so thoroughly trashed could be returned to its former glory.

Read more: Getting married again. And again. And again. Is that okay?

I then expressed my appreciation by taking it home and hanging it unceremoniously on the back of the spare room door.

Over the next nine years it would move house (and spare room doors) with me three times. And each time I’d regard it with some puzzlement because I had no plans to ‘do anything’ with it. Yet, the ruthless de-clutterer in me wasn’t able to let it go either.

Kelly in the first strapless dress she ever wore ... on her wedding day.

Why do women hang on to their wedding dresses?

"It's hanging in my wardrobe wrapped in dry cleaner plastic."

"It's in the cupboard all boxed up. It's moved house with us four times."

"I got married 15 years ago, divorced 10 years ago and still have mine. Not sure why."

Like every writer, when I was researching this piece, I turned to Facebook. And the above is a pretty accurate representation of the responses over 100 women gave me to the question: "Where is your wedding dress right now?"

So why do almost all of us hang on to a dress we know with complete certainty we will never wear again?

The fact it represents one of the happiest days of our lives is high on the list. We can't bring ourselves to let go of something that embodies such wonderful memories.

Another common reason women give for holding on to their wedding dress for decades is wanting to pass it on to their daughters. Err ... I’m not sure what the go is with that. To me, it smells of “I don't know what I want to do with this but I can't bring myself to give it away, so I'm going to make it your problem, dear daughter.”

Try this: “I met my husband when I was 36. We married when I was 37. We got pregnant when I was 38 and then I actually started to feel old.”

And of course there is the cost of the darn thing. Many women cite the fact that "it's the most expensive piece of clothing I will ever own" as their reason for consigning it to a life of anonymity in the back of a cupboard.

And you know what? Whether I agree with them or not, these are all good enough reasons to hang on to your wedding dress.

You know what's not a good reason? "I don't know why I still have it, but can't bring myself to get rid of it."


This was where I’d landed.

So I had to ask myself a different question: "How will it change your life if your dress is no longer in it?"

Do I need it to spark memories of my wedding day for me?

Well no.

Kelly and her husband.

The privilege of waking up next to my soul mate every morning does that far more effectively.

So does seeing a certain shade of green (the church doors) or fuschia (my bridesmaids' dresses).

So does seeing anyone wearing a strapless dress (my wedding dress was the first and only strapless dress I've ever worn.)

Even seeing heavy white silk in any form does because it reminds me of my grandmother's feigned indignation that someone who’d been ‘living in sin’ with her partner prior to getting married dared get married in white.

Walking past the dress hanging on the back of the door? All that was doing was sparking annoyance at myself for falling into the "I'm keeping this for the sake of keeping it" category.

So nine years after my wedding day, I decided to rip off the band-aid of sentimentality. No agonising or pondering and wondering. No farewell selfie with it. I simply reminded myself that I'm someone who believes the best things in life aren't in fact things, put the dress into the car and drove it up to Good Sammys, the charity shop.

Read more: Is THIS the key to a long and happy marriage?

I will admit, I was expecting more tickertape parade and less "just hang it up over there darl" from the Good Sammy's staff. I mean, I was giving them my wedding dress! But I quickly got over it, put thoughts of some random Uni student buying it for $20 to wear to a Bride of Frankenstein dress up party out of my head, and drove away.

That was three months ago and in that time I've had only one moment of ... not quite regret, but pause. It was when I saw these words in response to my "Do you still have your wedding dress" question on Facebook:

Mine is hanging in my wardrobe. I've kept it for the simple reason that nothing seems to be kept anymore.”

Those words did give me a little pang … but then I recalled something else I read once:

“How you do anything is how you do everything.”

If you’re currently holding on to your dress and you don’t know why … why else might you be holding on to unnecessarily?

Mother, runner, writer, blogger. Serial striver. Kelly Exeter believes a happy family life and kicking audacious goals can go together. She blogs about doing less with more focus at A Life Less Frantic and is author of ‘Your Best Year Yet – 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life’.

Check out the below gallery of women who embraced the 'trash the dress' trend.