Wedding season is upon us and for women in their mid 20’s to 30’s, the chances of being asked to be a bridesmaid are on the rise again.

Duties of the bridesmaid may include: addressing invitations, helping with seating arrangements, or adjusting the bride’s train at the altar.  However, one duty that usually comes with the territory is wearing a dress of the bride’s choice to the ceremony and reception.

But after the “I dos” have been said, and the champagne has been poured, the bridesmaids are left with a formal or semi-formal gown they probably wouldn’t have chosen for themselves.

“We always hear the same tale,” Joeli Beckum, a nurse, of Oxford, Miss., who has been a bridesmaid 11 times, said.  “Oh, you can totally cut this off and make it a short dress to wear again.  Well, I am 29-years-old and an old bridesmaid’s dress worn out in public does not a cute girl make!”

For bridesmaids like Beckum, there are many options for these gently used frocks.  She donates her gowns to the Salvation Army or to girls who can’t afford a dress to wear to their high school formal dances.

“I think every girl needs to make her high school prom, and it breaks my heart that there are girls out there who can’t afford dresses,” she said. “Most bridesmaid dresses look great as prom dresses and no one ever knows the difference!”

Sara Flowe, 28, of Denver, Colo. agrees. While working with students through a church ministry, she often lent her old bridesmaids dresses to prom or homecoming-bound high school teenagers.

“They would pass from girl to girl,” Flowe said. One favorite, a long, strapless light-pink gown with a black sash that swept back to a beautiful bow was worn by four or five different young women before being retired.

For those who do not personally know a needy family, Donate My Dress has a list of local charities across the country that supply formal dresses to those who cannot afford it.

Eco-friendly gals may want to consider recycling their dresses. GrowNYC accepts clothing donations at their Green Markets at eight different locations around the city. This can make a big difference, because according to New York City’s Department of Sanitation, 5.7 percent of the city’s residential waste stream is from clothing and textiles.

A new option has emerged in the form of NewlyMaid.  NewlyMaid is a web site in which women may send in their old formal dresses to receive discounts on “little black dresses” that have a wider appeal.

“For NewlyMaid, we wanted to offer a range of Little Black Dresses that would suit a variety of occasions and appeal to women with different personal styles,” said Alan Dessy, CEO of the Dessy Group, which runs Newlymaid.

Dessy’s inspiration came after years of work in the bridal fashion industry.

“I realized that there are so many dresses out there with the consumer that were not going to be worn again, and that no one was reclaiming. Exposure to concepts like Netflix and Rent-the-Runway mixed with my industry experience gave me the idea for NewlyMaid.”

Dessy said that the response to NewlyMaid has been “fantastic” so far.  Collected dresses are either recycled or sent to the clothing charity Clothes4Souls.

Sara Flowe liked the idea of the ever-wearable “little black dress” so much, she chose it as bridesmaid attire for her own wedding. When this 10-times-the-bridesmaid married in January, she allowed each of her attendants to wear the black, semi-formal dress of her choice.

“As far as budgets go, I think that is the best,” Flowe said.

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