I'll never forget how I felt when I realized I found "the one." Forget the guy, I'm talking about my wedding dress! Standing in front of the mirror in an off white strapless Werkstatt gown, sophisticated with a little bling, but classy and elegant, I felt so beautiful and happy. All my dreams were coming true. This was the dress I'd thought about my entire life. In six months, the love of my life was going to put a ring on my finger in this dress, and like a prince and a princess, he and I would live happily ever after. The end.
Fifteen years and two kids later, where is the gown now? Sitting in an airtight preservation box in the storage room of my basement. Whether I was still blissfully married or what I am now: a divorced, single mom of 7 years, that's where the dress would be. But the big difference is, if I was still married, I would assume it would stay in the box until my daughter was getting married and wanted to wear it. But will my daughter want to wear the wedding dress her mom wore, when her parent's marriage ended in divorce? Hard to say.
On one hand, the dress is a lucky dress. Even though we are divorced, my ex and I had some really happy times, we were deeply in love when I wore the dress, and the biggest thing, our marriage resulted in two children we both love more than anything on earth. So, in that regard, if I were my daughter, sure I'd want to wear the dress.
That said, the marriage failed. It was miserable at times, especially at the end. Why would someone want to wear a dress that resulted in divorce?
Every divorced person has different opinions on what he or she wants to do with their wedding dress and other wedding mementos. Some people tear up wedding photos in anger, some secretly try on their gown and cry, some sell their rings because they need the money, and two divorced women even went on The Steve Harvey Show, where they gave their wedding gowns to a fashion expert who had the gowns made into fun, cocktail dresses. I was on the show as a divorce expert, by the way (I'll let you know when it airs.)
Here are some marriage mementos and suggestions on what you can do with them.
Wedding gown and veil:
1. Save it and give your daughter the option of wearing it. Let her decide how she feels about it.
2. Give it to a resale shop and get some much needed cash, or buy yourself something really nice with the money.
3. Donate it to a charitable cause to give a happy, young bride in love the chance to wear a beautiful dress she might not otherwise have the money to buy.
1. The site of your wedding photos might make you physically nauseous. They might be upsetting. They might infuriate you. Or, they might send you into a deep depression. I totally get that. But, think about saving them for your kids. If it was a time when you were madly in love, don't you think they want to have them? Photos of the two people they love most in this world, who at one time loved each other enough to have them?
2. Throw the photos in the garbage (which I do not think is a good idea.) My point is, there is no monetary value in photos, so these are your two options.
1. If you are into shoes, and you absolutely LOVED your wedding shoes or sandals, what's wrong with wearing them? You could have them dyed and they could turn out to be your favorite picks for a night out on the town.
3. Save for your daughter, which is kind of gross because they are old shoes.
1. This is a toughie. I'd say put it in a box and never look at it again, because you never know when you might need to show proof of something. If you are considering throwing it in the garbage, make sure you shred it.
2. Keep it, just because. That's what I did. Just because the marriage resulted in divorce, it was part of my life, and I do want to remember it.
1. If you need the money, sell them. Tip: If it's a name brand, like Tiffany, you can sell it on ebay for a lot more than you'd get by going to a jeweler. If it isn't a name brand, that's okay too. You might want to try selling on ebay or craigslist before going to a jeweler because you will get a lot less from a jeweler.
2. Even if you don't need the money you can still sell and buy yourself something nice.
3. Donate. It's a great tax write off, and you could be doing something really good for someone. Good karma!
4. Save for your son or daughter. Again, this is such a personal choice, but since you were probably really happy when you got engaged, maybe you want one of your children to wear it. And maybe they will want to wear it, maybe they won't. Remember, it will be up to them when it's time, but only if you still have the rings. Wouldn't it be nice to give them the option?
5. Last piece of advice on rings: this is a really, really big decision so don't do anything hasty! It's okay if your rings sit in a drawer for years and years. When you finally decide to make a move, it will be the right decision because it will have been well thought out.
I have big white lace box. In it is all the table numbers, my wedding program, my wedding invitation, my wedding shoes, my dried flower bouquet, cards from people, my wedding list, the key to the hotel room where we spent our wedding night, honeymoon photos, and a even the tube of waterproof mascara I wore that night.
I could possibly be the most sentimental person on the face of the earth, but I still look in that box every couple years, and while it makes me sad, it also puts a smile on my face and causes tears in my eyes (in a good way.)
In closing, marriage mementos mean different things to different people. My divorce advice is, don't let your anger rule what you choose to do with things.
People always say, "Don't focus on the past," but I think the only time this advice is wrong is when it comes to looking at your mementos. What's wrong with, (for a few minutes every few years) going on a trip down memory lane to a really, really great time in your life?
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)