Now What Do I Do With It All?


Your wedding is going to be lovely. After all, you’ve worked hard to come up with just the right accessories to carry out your dream theme, picked the perfect flowers, designed a menu that will delight the taste buds of your friends and families, and chosen a spectacular one-of-a-kind gown.

Beautiful.

Elegant.

Meaningful.

But what the holy heck are you going to do with it all once the day is over? After all, you don’t want to be a one-woman ecological disaster in the making, and you don’t want to be wading through masses of wedding detritus come your tenth anniversary, either.

That means you’ll need a plan to store the things you care about keeping and dispose of the things you don’t want anymore responsibly.

As per usual, I have a couple thoughts on the subject.

The first thing to do is to figure out what matters enough to you to keep it. This varies wildly from person to person. You may want to hang onto your wedding gown forever, hoping that one day your daughter will love it as much as you did and wear it when she gets married… or you might feel you don’t have either the sentiment or the closet space for that one. I know a couple women who carefully preserved their bouquets and display them in their homes. Mine went into a compost bucket in a friend’s vegetable garden without a moment’s regret. The tomatoes were excellent that year. Some people frame their invitations while others cut up any leftover ones for craft projects or shred and recycle them.

It doesn’t matter what things matter to you enough to keep and which don’t. What matters is figuring it out on your terms.

Once you’ve got that worked out, decide whether to donate, sell, or recycle all the things you possibly can.

There are charities that will take wedding gowns, veils, and other bridal accessories and either sell them for charity or give them to brides who would not be able to afford gowns etc. otherwise. If you aren’t sentimental about your gown, headpiece, or gloves, look up what groups in your area will pass them on to breast cancer survivors or the homeless who want to marry. Items like aisle runners, bouquet holders, or fancy pens for signing guest books are often gratefully accepted, too.

Another good candidate for donation is flower arrangements. If you’ve got any that have survived the heat (or other weather conditions) and the vases aren’t rented, think about donating them to a hospital or nursing home to cheer up patients.

Food is trickier. Many times your reception food cannot be donated to organized charities due to health regulations. But there’s nothing to stop you putting out take home containers for your friends so they can have any leftovers… or you could have a couple volunteers pack up the food and give it on a one-on-one basis to homeless, hungry people in the streets.

Or maybe you spent more than you’d meant to and would like to make a modicum of that back from the things you don’t want to keep. eBay, Craig’s List, and bridal boards are great places to sell off the things in good condition that you don’t want to give apartment space to. After all, that wooden sign that said ‘The Bride is Coming’ looked adorable when the little boy carried it down the aisle… but what are you going to do with it for the rest of your life? Well, another bride might love the idea of having one and look on your lightly used one as the answer to a maiden’s prayer. And you might be well able to use the couple of bucks that prayer nets you!

Then again, sometimes it’s fun to take something that was important for one reason, and make it useful for another reason. Maybe you don’t want to preserve your bouquet, per se, but are loathe to just dump it or hand it off to someone else. Why not dry the sweet-smelling petals for potpourri? Or dry the flowers and use them in crafts projects? If they’re edible, you can even cook with them.

Once a wedding is over, there’s a lot of clean up to be done. But if you have a plan for what to do with things afterwards, you can make your wedding easier on the earth, and spread some happiness while you’re at it.

One Response to “Now What Do I Do With It All?”

  1. 7nina June 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    ReFood: Lots of venues won’t allow taking leftover food at all. Lots of places have very strict rules on this to limit liability, so before you put out containers or whatever, find out the policies. You wouldn’t want to be embarrassed on the day by the venue having to protect itself.