Just married? Donate your dress to a bride in Kenya - Related Image.
Carol Waters inspects a vintage 1970s gown she'll take with her to Kenya this January. This dress will likely be made into veils and other accessories, while more modern styles will be altered and rented out.
I recently spoke to a Sandy Hill resident who has been
collecting used, modest wedding dresses to take with her on an upcoming trip to
Kenya, where she’ll teach women living in slums how to create false hems, tack
seams and rent out the darling dresses for $5 a day.
The idea struck me because it’s a perfect plan: poor brides
get to wear a wonderful wedding dress, and the impoverished women renting them
out bring in an income for themselves and the slum’s school, Project Chance,
which educates about 300 children per year.
Carol Waters spent five weeks last year in Nairobi’s Mathare
slum teaching women to sew, and realized that many young brides there aspire to
have the kind of Western-style wedding only very rich Kenyans can afford.
She said the project should be a success for the
seamstresses and the brides alike.
“It just makes it special for them,” Waters said. “These
girls get married in a church, they don’t go and party all night. It’s the idea
of getting married in a church ceremony and that’s the end of it really. I’m
not going to take down the strapless dresses, because most of these women are
At the end of December, Waters had seven dresses, mostly
from divorced women, but after a local television feature her collection
ballooned to 20 dresses and a 20-dress waiting list.
This news warmed my heart because it proved there are
clearly brides out there who want to make good use of their dress once they’re
done with it.
What I like about this project, and similar dress donation
programs, is that it fulfills all the principles I and other socially
responsible brides hold dear: it helps someone less fortunate than you, it’s
environmentally friendly, and it’s thrifty. It also saves space in your closets
for more practical things like, say, toothpaste. Or toilet paper. Things you
actually need close at hand, instead of a pristine dress trapped in a shiny box
that won’t be released until your daughter announces her engagement. That’s if
you have a daughter, and if she believes in marriage. Which she might not.
The other thing I like about donating your dress is that it
saves the gown from the temptation of a “trash the dress” session.
If you don’t know what this is, check
out these photos – and try not to get sucked into the pretty pictures of
bridal divas rolling in waves and jumping in puddles. Yes, those sessions make
for nice photos, but why would you destroy something so beautiful when it could
be used by someone else?
In Waters’ case, it could be used by potentially hundreds of
other girls, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a wedding dress at all.
If you’re not going to keep your dress forever and ever until it smells like
moth balls, at least let someone else wear it.
Even if you don’t end up sending your dress to Kenya (she’s
quite inundated at the moment), I urge you to look locally and donate it so
someone else can enjoy it. There are lots of consignment shops around (With Love Bridal is a good start),
and Salvation Army are always looking for
quality clothes. Whatever you decide you’ll definitely be doing the world a good deed.