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Cool Handmade Headless Bride Costume

I have been making Halloween costumes for 45 years, since I started sewing at age 10.  My costumes have always been very involved, but have been of the softer, gentler or superhero type.  After my kids came along, they were Madison from Splash, Batman, the Joker, a Mutant Ninja Turtle, Roger and Jessic Rabbit, even a Treasure Troll.  Our favorite was Rhett and Scarlett, both personified by my then 10 year old daughter….

Along comes Aurora

20 years after Rhett and Scarlett, along comes my 10 year old granddaughter, Aurora.  Rora let me dress her as a princess when she was little, but now she has her own style, and it’s not warm and fuzzy, nor superhero.  She leans toward the macabre and gross; zombies, blood, vampires.  This year she decided to go with an involved dual costume like mommy’s but heavy on the gross out scale.  After much research on Pinterest, she decided to be a headless bride.

early work in progress version of the headless bride
early work in progress version of the headless bride

Constructing the headless bride

Materials needed:

  • Wedding dress from Goodwill – $25
  • Manequin from Craigslist – $20
  • Old school backpack from the garage sale pile
  • Assorted spiders and rats from the Halloween decoration box
  • One enthusiastic 10 year old.


Originally, we stuffed the mannequin into the backpack, but found that it held the body too far away from Aurora’s and showed her body too much through the skirt (see step 1 photo).  So we cut the straps off the backpack and bolted them directly to the mannequin form.  Her shoulders tucked right in to the body and it was much more comfortable.

With help from my trusty assistant, Finley, I modified the beautiful 1970’s beaded wedding dress.  We decided to remove about 4 feet of the train for safety.  Then we cut the bodice from the skirt at the front waist, and reinforced it with bias tape so it wouldn’t tear when Aurora put her head through.

We wanted the dress to still have the beautiful lace all the way around the shortened train, so we had to carefully take it off all the way around, cut the train, then reattach it.  This was the most tedious part of the project and took about 3 hours, but it was worth the effort.

Next steps were making the arms and goring up the neck.  We used scrap cloth and the cardboard tube from the arm hanger wire for bones and cartilage.

cutting the manaquin to fit her body
cutting the mannequin to fit her body

Voilà,  a mannequin backpack
Voila, a mannequin backpack

my trusty assistant, supervising the sewing
my trusty assistant, supervising the sewing

neck gore, we decided to go with no blood on the dress
neck gore, we decided to go with no blood on the dress

Ready to show it off!

Add a dead flower bouquet, rats, spiders and the knife through the head touch, and we were ready to hit the neighborhood costume contest…..

Which she won!

When the whole headless bride project started, Aurora just wanted to gross out the neighborhood while trick or treating.  Winning the costume contest added a whole new dimension.  The search was on for MORE CONTESTS!

tired but happy creepy winner!
tired but happy creepy winner!

Next stop: Legoland

We Googled contests and found the best one an hour away at Legoland, a place we had always planned to visit.  We packed the bride into the trunk and headed out for a fun day.

After a day exploring “Brick or Treat”, the bride came out of the trunk and made her appearance at the Costume Contest.  We had high hopes, she definitely was the best costume there.  But she didn’t win!

Oh the tears.  We were getting ready to leave when someone from the park pulled me aside and said, “You ARE coming to the street party, right?  We give out the grand prize there….”  Hard to convince a very discouraged 10 year old to stay, but she’s a trooper.  On the way over to the street party, every kid we passed wanted their picture with her.  She posed.  Then the characters from the park wanted to pose with her.  She cheered up a little.  The downside of the costume is no access to her arms without spoiling the illusion, so I had to feed her, which cheered her up, and she danced around the street party. She didn’t know about the grand prize thing, but she was having fun being the center of attention.  She said, “now I know how Mickey Mouse feels at Disney” after the 100th photo with a guest at the park.

Legoland costume  contest
Legoland costume contest

The Grand Prize

So yes, you saw this coming, Aurora won the GRAND PRIZE at Legoland!  That child was so happy!  4 annual passes to the park and a ton of Lego kits.  The best day EVER!!

So I have run out of room to post more photos, but to finish the story-

On the following Monday, the Headless Bride attended a Halloween party for Special Needs kids at All People’s Center in Tampa.  She posed with the kids attending the party, danced with them and played musical chairs.  On Halloween, she probably only made it to 10 hoises.  The rest of the night was spent posing  for photos with little kids in the neighborhood.

Creating costumes is fun. Winning is fun. Halloween and Legoland are fun. But watching my sometimes self-centered 10 year old granddaughter give back to others by posing over and over and making THEIR holiday was the proudest I have ever been, and the most fun this Nana has had in ages.  And I think the Bride had a lot of fun too :)

Grand Prize winner.
Grand Prize winner.

Coolest Homemade Costume Contest 2023

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