Why I Opened My Preserved Wedding Dress…

This month, Chris and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary! That means for 11 whole years that ivory box has been sitting in a closet undisturbed. By “That box” I mean the box that holds my wedding dress.  Right after our wedding, I had both my 1920’s-inspired dress and my cathedral length veil… preserved. A preserved wedding dress (in theory) will remain in pristine condition for generations to come. I imagined that one day I might have a daughter, who might want to wear my classic dress.

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

It’s Taunting Me

It’s easier to ignore the box when it is sitting in a closet you hardly go into, but since we sold our house in Texas, the box has been front and center in our garage here in Colorado. I pass by that box every day. I’m wondering… is it still white? What shade of white was the dress? Will it still fit me? Does it actually stay preserved? What happens if I open the box?? This inner dialog has been going on for WEEKS. I even asked what your thoughts are on social media.

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Let’s Get Real

Well, after weeks of staring down the box, I finally decided to open it (as you might have already guessed based on the pictures). I came to the conclusion that no daughter is going to want to wear her mom’s wedding dress. And even if Elizabeth wants to cut it up and use part of it, I can still keep it nice enough for her to do that.

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

It Fits!

The exciting news is…that after 11 years and two kids… it STILL fits!! The not so great news is… it’s a wrinkled mess. I don’t care, I could have taken the time to steam it before snapping these pictures, but I decided to put it on, and stand on my living room coffee table instead. Cause…why not?? The poor thing has been living in a box for 11 years!

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Preservation Kit

There are gloves that come with my preservation kit so I can wear those to handle the dress. Although admittedly I took those off after about five minutes. I haven’t opened the veil yet. I might keep that one preserved for Elizabeth. It’s far more likely that she may want to repurpose my veil.

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

You Might Be Surprised to Know That…

I was not the type of bride that wanted all eyes on me. I felt uncomfortable with that kind of attention. (Yes, I understand this is confusing...I’m a walking contradiction) I literally had a 10-foot stroll down a grassy path and a 15-minute ceremony by a justice of the peace named Cinderella!

Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee style with wedding party in wedding attire

We got married at a resort ranch in West Texas outside Marfa called Cibolo Creek Ranch. It’s where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, and where one of the Dixie Chicks got married.

Fashion Blogger Erin Busbee Walking Down the Aisle in Wedding Dress Carrying Red Rose Bouquet

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin BusbeePreserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

The Story of My Dress

I was at Mark Ingram Atelier in New York trying on dresses. The woman helping me mentioned a trunk show.

“Would you like to try on any of the trunk show dresses?” She asked.  “They are 30% off today.” I was already debating between two gowns, but I told her sure. The woman brought in a dress. This one is called, “The Rose. I think you are going to love it.”

My mom and I were discussing my grandmother’s dress. I never had the chance to meet my grandmother. She died of cancer at just 31. But, I’ve heard so many stories about her, and how stylish and elegant she was. I have always felt very connected to her. I used to play dress up in her wedding dress, and I loved it! It was all silk, very simple and classic. A gorgeous gown that would never look dated, or out of style. I told my mom that I would love to wear a dress like that.

I slipped on “The Rose,” turned towards the mirror and froze. It was exactly what my mom and I were just talking about… an elegant, classic, silk gown.

I opened the dressing room curtain and asked the woman, “Who designed this dress?”

Elizabeth Fillmore,” She answered.

Tears starting welling up in my eyes, My grandmother’s name was Elizabeth.

Erin Busbee's grandmother, Elizabeth in wedding dress with her husband

Preserving your wedding dress, should you open the box, featuring a silk gown by Elizabeth Fillmore on fashion blogger Erin Busbee

To Preserve or Not to Preserve, That is the Question

So… should you preserve your dress?? Oh, I don’t know. Do what feels right for you. I kind of regret not opening that box sooner and enjoying my dress all these years. But, I DO plan to make up for lost time and enjoy the heck out of it now. Wouldn’t it be a gorgeous red carpet gown?? Maybe something will come up and I’ll chop off the train.  Did you preserve your dress? Have you opened it?? Please share your story in the comments below.

Fashion Blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style in wedding gown carrying red bouquet with husband

Fashion Blogger Erin Busbee and Husband Chris Cutting Wedding Cake

You might like this post featuring what to wear to a wedding as a guest. And below you’ll find some of my picks for wedding guest dress options.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter here.  And, thanks so much for stopping by!

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  1. Hi Erin,

    we Had a very Small beautiful wedding shortly after moving to florida. It was located in a taru garden in a gazebo with a minister, violinist and photographer. – that’s all. My wedding dress was a beautiful white evening dress and I wear it on our Wedding anniversarIes. On our first anniversary, we went back to the garden restaurant and had dinner at the same table wHere the violinist played for us. Nearby at another table a couple came up to us and asked us if we had gotten married there the year before. It Was also their wedding anniversary and they wanted to thank us for the lovely music we provided for our wedding the previous year. I am still enoying my weddinG dress every year and it’s 11 years later too. ThAnks for sharing your story and others too!

  2. Hi Erin,
    You asked about marriage…MY husband and I married in our 40s. I had been a single mom for 10 Yrs after a miserable divorce (is there any other kind?) In our PRE-ROMANCE days, he had asked if I’d ever remarry. I told him that, if I did, inscribed in our wedding bands would be there wordS “nobody gets out alive”. Today, 9/24/18, we’re in Santa Fe visiting from OUr home in OREGON and celebrating our 30th anniversary. It hasn’t always been easy but I wouldn’t change a thing and feel blessed to share this happy life with my wonderful husband.

    1. I love your story…thank you for sharing it with me! NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE! Hahahaha! Chris and I feel that way too… (both from divorced families)

  3. When my mother passed away, i found my dress hanging in her basement. I thought it was in a box. Preserved with the vEil and shoes with my penny inside. I dont know what happened and i couldnt ask her where the other pieces were. It will always be a mystery. I then loaned the dress to a friend who couldnt afford one and she promptly disappeared with my dress. I really dont mind losing the dress, but i sure would love to Find my shoes and penny as it was given tome by my father with the year i was born on it. Thats one of those things you can’t ask your parents after theyre gone. Let that be a lesson to you, ladies. Talk to your family about their past. The ones older than 75 or so will love to tell you stories that will be priceless after they’re gone.

    Oh, you asked the secret as i was married in 1975. Well, there isnt one. If one of you doesnt pass away, you just commit to those vows and mean it. I Was lucky that God gave me the right man to begin with. That certainly helped.

    1. Thanka Myra…I was thinking about taping my mom and asking her a bunch of questions about the family. I feel like that would be priceless! I’m so sorry about your shoes and your penny! Love you marital advice! Make it work! Commit! Erin xo

  4. Wow Erin! That Is Amazing YOU Could Fit IN Your Dress AFTER 11 Years!!! Me NOT So MUCH, my husband and I have been married for 21 Years. I was 99 pounds Now ONE hundred Forty-five.. yes in full-blown menopause LOL. Congratulations and happy Anniversary.. to many many more decades Together!
    I must say that you still are very beautiful radiant woman who shines and you bring so much joy and brightness into my Life!
    I just found you this weekend and I AM already Organizing My Closet.! I got rid of a lot of things I bought a ton of new things thank you for the Soma Link! I was able to shop on their Website they had buy 3 get 2 free plus 20% off for new customers so that was a blessing $58 for five pairs of Panties.. I also rushed into my target they only had one package of the drawer dividers so I will be ordering more Online.. so nice to have someone to help me get Organized. Thank you again for all you Do!! Also I can’t wear any high heels I have to have lower I’m still searching for white low heel Booties.. I was able to order my white skinny jeans at Nordstrom Rack. those are on the Way. So Excited. I think you’re also helping me to become a more confident Woman, which was hard after having breast cancer mastectomy reconstruction the whole process and then menopause so it feels really good to feel good about myself finally!! sorry this got a little long had a lot to say I guess LOL Looking Forward To YOUR Next YOUTUBE. ~XO CINDY Levana GUNVILLE PS one thing I’ve learned is you got to be quick to get your items before they’re gone because everything I Went looking For THROUGH YOUR Links was sold out

    1. Cindy… you are AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your journey and story with me. I am incredibly honored! And, I’m so glad that I can help in some small way. Getting organized will be a game changer, and so will your basics! Menopause bites. I’ve been on the roller coaster for two years. I am so sorry to hear about your surgery and cancer. I’m hoping you are now cancer-free?? You’ve had a LOT going on. Grant yourself grace. And, take your time getting back on track with your style and self. You are on your way!! xoxo

    2. Thank YOU!!! Yes 13 Almost 14 Yeats CANCER FREE!! It’s MY TIME NOW.. I AM Excited To GET Started! Thank YOU FOR ALL You Do! 😊

  5. Darling Erin, I didn’t wear a wedding gown because we had a very small wedding at a friend’s lawn, and it was perfect.
    Your wedding gown is magnificent, and you looked, and look lovely. As far as what to do with a wedding dress instead of putting it away forever, I would think it would be best to repurpose it. my neighbor, through a hospital, collects them and makes tiny outfits for babies that don’t make it through life. I know it sounds very sad, but it is very sweet for the parents. maybe i shouldn’t have told this story,but i felt compelled to do so.
    and i don’t know why my keyboard is stuck on capital lock!
    wishing you the best in life always, and sending a shower of blessings.

    1. Hi Victoria… your wedding sounds just perfect. Mine was quite small too. Only about 80 people. I haven’t heard of that non-profit, but I will Google it. Thank you! Erin xo

  6. I had my wedding dress made into a CHRISTENING dress for my granddaughters! I felt it was an AWESOME way For my dress to “keep on giving”! I even made little shoes for them & used the buttons from my dress to trim the shoes & monogrammed the sole with their initials!

    1. I LOVE this idea! Thank you for sharing it, Cathy! And, I wonder what happened to my christening gown? Or my First communion dress… I’ll have to ask my mom. Erin xo

  7. Oh Erin u look beautiful. I did not preserve mine because it was raining the night we got married And my dress was really muddy. I did open the plastc bag and on our 25 th wedding anniversary…after being on a strict diet , got Kent to
    take a picture of me in our yard…lol the back did not close at the top but not too bad after 25 years. Funny, this subject came up today. A lady in the shop said her dress thirty years ago was 1000…a lot then. Her daughter is getting married and she is wearing her mom’s dress. It is beautiful, old fashioned, most gorgeous train I have ever seen and absolutely perfect for the bride to be. Your daughter may want to wear yours one day!!

    1. You never know! Maybe she will… I think she’ll probably cut it up and use it for something. I love the mental picture of you in your backyard wearing the dress. Haha… and your hubs was so sweet to take that picture! Thanks for sharing! Erin xo

  8. wHAT A beaUTIFUL DRESS, ANd style, you look great, my congrats because this dress means so much for you,…..is nice have a sweet memories for a special date….im your fan, and from south america,…………….thanks for all your advice about how we can be fashion but always ourselves, finding our own style,

    1. How neat to have a reader from South Africa! I hope to get there someday soon!! Maybe this year… Erin xo

  9. Hi Erin,
    Its 6:00 in the morning and im reading your post regarding your wedding dress. so lovely to Hear about the close connection to your grandma. Gave me goosebumps and actually made me teary. No question shes watching over you. You even look like her.
    Have a great day.
    Heather

    1. Thanks so much, Heather. I’ve always felt like she is with me. My daughter is named Elizabeth Jane after her.

  10. I love this! I have my dress from 1995, buT it’s simple and classic and still in style. My two DAUGHTERS are 15 and 19 and much taller thaN me! We should get the dress out and play with it!

  11. Wow! I hope that I can say in 11 years that my gown still fits… 🙂
    that’s a stunning dress, and I loved the pictures you included of your wedding! Beautiful!
    i’ve been married a little over 4 years now, and my gown is just sitting inside the garment bag… I’m curious though… If it’s still doing alright. haha side note, i did not get my dress preserved (i actually didn’t even know that that was an option!)
    isn’t it funny though? I Also chose a Veil and a dress that I felt would remain classic for years and years to come (my view still hasn’t changed..lol.. i still maintain that the designs i chose are timeless!), and wondered whether my future daughter(s???) would want to wear it for their wedding. buuuut… eh, Who knows…. right????….. hahaha
    perhaps i’ll try on my dress after i have my baby, and see how it fits. 😀 it sure looks like a lot of fun!

    1. It is, Grace!! And, I think you should try it on. Congrats on the baby. Do NOT try it on pregnant. 😉 I’m so glad I didn’t choose a crazy, trendy dress. Timeless is definitely the way to go! Erin xo

  12. Dear Erin,
    You are beautiful today and 11 years ago! I think your daughter will surprise you and want to wear your wedding GOWN; (cathedral veil and ALL) on her wedding DAY, too. By the way your grandmother was BEAUTIFUL!

    Thank you FOr sharing this With all of us!
    Sarah

    1. You think? I’m not so sure. But, I honestly just want her to find the right partner and then she can choose whatever dress that makes her happy! The key is making the right life partner choice. 😉 I feel pretty lucky in that dept.

  13. I did preserve my dress. My Mom made it and my grandmother hand sewed the 11 metres of leaves and berries trim around the hem. My daughter will not be able to wear it as she is a larger figure type than I was. she may be able to re-PURPOSE portions of it if that is her wish. For now it will stay boxed up in the cupboard.

    1. I think you can remove the preserved dress and still handle it and then box it back up. Mine has instructions on how to handle it and package it back up. Just sayin’ … in case you want to bust her out! And, how special that your grandmother hand-sewed the dress! WOW.

  14. Such a strange coincidence that I also just recently opened my preserved wedding dress too – After 17 years!!! i’m glad i did because i had forgotten the small details of the dress, which i still love to this day. it was also fun to share the dress with my tween and teenager children who weren’t born when we were married. so many great memories from that special day – why no relive them every once in a while. my vote is to open!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Shana! Was the dress the way you remembered it?? I forgot about the rose detailing on the front of my dress. It was really fun to open it and put it on. I’ll be wearing it around the house to hang out! 😉

  15. How Enightning! I’m going on 53 and GETTING maried for the 2nd time. We HAVE been together for 10 years. My fIance’ wants me to have it all. Im wearing a gown by the designer Waters. My gown is ACTUALLY called Juno by WTOO.
    Im having my Initials and wedding dated embroided into my dress. I am planning on wearing it for our anniversarys. My daughter is planning on wearing it as well. It will Be passed down to her daughters. It will eventually be preserVed. Its the pnly wat to pass it on.
    Its the “ something old “ for your future daughters daughters wedding! I am Big on details and traDition.

    1. That is such a wonderful idea!! I love that!! And, congrats on the wedding. Sounds like you picked a GREAT one!! Erin xo

    1. Aw, thanks sweet Lilian. I teared up writing it. I had forgotten about that experience and opening the dress and creating this blog, brought it all back. Wonderful memories. Erin xo

  16. A beautiful bride then and now! I loved my wedding dress and suddenly want to
    Pull it ouT, haha. I had my mom’s veil
    Made into a new Veil and wore they on my wedding day. 😊

    1. Oh, I LOVE that, Erin…and that is what I think may happen with Elizabeth. Maybe you SHOULD pull it out!? My kit says I can package it back up, no problem. Erin xo

  17. Erin, you writing brought me to tears at your curtain moment. Such a special connection to an even more special woman, one of which you never met and yet love so dearly. Admire how you are determined to keep her close in your life-(through your daughters namesake I presume). There are so many beautiful layers to you ~ lovely for you to share so much. The depth of your beauty is far more than your reflection. XO Bunnie

    1. Such an eloquent and lovely note, Bunnie! Yes, my Elizabeth (Elizabeth Jane) is named after her grandmother who was also Elizabeth Jane. I told Chris that if we have a girl, he doesn’t get a vote. 😉

  18. I had my wedding dress boxed up for 31 years and my daughter decided after looking at my wedding pictures she wanted to wear it at her wedding! I felt honored and so pleased. She looked beautiful!

    1. Wow…that is AMAZING!! What a wonderful and special moment for you both! Thanks for sharing, Deb! Erin xo

  19. YES! so glad you opened it! shortly after my wedding one of me new in-laws told me about a dinner party she threw with her girlfriends. They all wore their own wedding dresses(or a bridesmaid dress they wore for a friend ) and one of her friends actually bought a new one she found on sale at davids “just because” then they hired a caterer and had a sit down dinner at one of their homes. She said it was one of the most fun evenings she’s had with both old and new friends. Doesn’t that sound like such FUN!!!!!

    1. Oh My Gosh… I HAVE to do this!!! And, I’m totally buying a new dress, just cause. That cracked me up! Thanks for sharing, Ashley!! Erin xo

  20. I opened my dress a long time ago! I had It made into a first communiom dress for my daughter. My hope is that many more Baker/Lindemann lIttle girls will where that dress on their first communion.

    1. That is such a sweet idea!! I love that! I remember my First Communion dress so well. My mom bought it for me at a fancy department store even though we were broke. It was such a special dress and day…

  21. Hi Erin,
    Beautiful dress and beautiful pictures! i preserved my dress too, but a couple of years ago realized that my daughter would likely never wear it. i was as a size 8/10 when i got married and jenny is petite and not at all built like me, though she does have a bit of a tush like me. what i wouldn’t give to be an 8/10 now! Anyway, i don’t want to bum you out or be a debbie downer, but a year or maybe it was two years ago, i took my dress to a woman who makes Angel gowns out of wedding dresses. angel gowns are for babies who are still born or die after birth. the idea appealed to me because my first daughter was born prematurely at just 23 weeks and only lived 5 days. the woman i took my dress to is going to make me an angel gown in honor of my daughter, katlyn marie.

    1. Wow, Lynn… what an amazing way to mark Katlyn’s life. That is maybe the saddest thing I can think of ever happening to another human being. You are an incredible woman! SO strong and brave. Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing Katlyn Marie with all of us. Erin xo

  22. You gave me goose bumps reading this! I love that you found…THE dress…and it was made by Elizabeth!! I hope you get to ROCK this GOWN at an event. we all could use a little wedding day memory and to remind ONE another why we chose our partner and vice versa. To Revel in that feeling we had on our special day and the accomplishments that each of us have done.
    Thanks for sharing ERin!!❤

    1. You are so right… it’s easy to take our partners for granted after so many years. Our anniversary certainly made me think of our wedding and how far we have come as people and as a couple. Let’s revel!

  23. I HAD MY DRESS PROFESSIONALLY PRESERVED TOO… AND YES, IT TAUNTED ME. ON MY 25TH ANNIVERSARY I OPENED THE SEALED BOX… SADLY, THERE MUST HAVE BEEN MOISTURE AFTER THE DRY CLEANING BECAUSE SOME OF THE BEADING HAD TARNISHED. IN RETROSPECT, I WISH I DIDNT PAY THE $$ TO GET IT PRESERVED. IT DIDN’T DO MY DRESS ANY FAVORS AND FORSURE MY DAUGHTER WILL NEVER WEAR IT. IT DIDN’T FIT, BUT I KNEW IT WOULDNT, CLOSE OH SO CLOSE… I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH IT… I WISH I COULD HAVE SEEN MY DUAGHTER PLAY DRESS UP WITH IT. MAYBE MY GRANDDAUGHTER ONE DAY WILL PLAY WITH IT 🙂 MARCY

    1. That is great feedback, Marcy. I’m so sorry that happened to you, but maybe we can learn from this and open our boxes! Thanks again! Erin xo

  24. Absolutely gorgeous dress, Erin!! How gratifying to still wear it so well. And yes, it would be an exquisite red carpet dress. My dress was in the Princess Diana era with big poufy sleeves, preserved in a box. My daughter would much prefer a gown designed like yours, but mine is available should she want to take a snip for “Something old” (…borrowed, blue, etc) I was married at 19, and 32 years later, I really don’t want to fit into it. So there’s that. LOl

    1. I know exactly what you are talking about. I remember her dress vividly. Maybe she will want to use part of it? Could be turned into a christening gown? Or maybe she could use your veil. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Tammy! Loved reading it… Erin xo

  25. Wow what a beautiful dress AND YOU WEAR IT SO WELL, THEN AND NOW! iT WAS MEANT TO BE! i PRESERVED MY DRESS AND IT’S BEEN IT THAT STATE FOR 21 YEARS, AND i HAVE TWO BOYS – NOT LIKELY EITHER ONE OF THEM WILL WEAR IT. i CANT BRING MYSELF TO OPEN IT BECAUSE HONESTLY i DON’T KNOW WHAT I’D DO WITH IT. IT WAS A PRETTY BASIC DRESS ALSO AND WAS MEANT TO BE, IT WAS THE 2ND DRESS I TIRED ON AND WHEN I GOT MARRIED WE HAD A TIGHT BUDGET AND LUCKILY FOR ME THE WEDDING STORE HAD A FEW DRESSES THAT WERE 99.00, SO MY DRESS COST ME ALL OF 99.00 AND IT WAS PERFECT! SHOWS YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPEND A TON OF MONEY TO FIND THE PERFECT DRESS.

    1. You definitely do NOT have to spend a ton… love that story, Kimberly! But, open the box!! Enjoy it again! Erin xo

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