Picture of Headless Bride from Duct Tape
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Talk about a bridezilla...

For Halloween last year I decided I wanted to go as a corpse bride since I had an awesome oh-so-eighties wedding dress at my disposal (left over from a previous theme party). The dress was so epic, any old dead bride just wouldn't do, so I started looking for inspiration.

I absolutely loved Love Bone's Headless Marie Antoinette costume, featured in Make Magazine, but I didn't have the materials or skills to sculpt it like she did.

What I did have was lots and lots of duct tape.

*For more info on me and the costume I'm currently working on, check out my blog

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Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of What you'll need
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From the thrift store:
- fabulous wedding dress you don't mind altering (when I was done the dress could easily have been restored to a normal wedding dress with a little work)
-crinoline or similar underskirt
-white opera gloves
-tight fitting shirt (you'll never get this back)
-small backpack

From the hardware store:
-duct tape
-masking tape
-bamboo poles
-white glue
-paint brushes
-metal wire or clothes hanger
-paper towel
-glue gun and hot glue (optional)

From your recycling bin:
-margarine container or similar round plastic object
-plastic bottle cap

From your social circle:
-a good friend you don't mind getting very close with (ladies, he or she is going to have to have their hands all over your chest while you're wrapped up like a mummy, choose your assistants wisely)

Step 2: Wrap it up

Picture of Wrap it up
Put on the old shirt and have your friend wrap your torso in duct tape.

There are several good tutorials online for making duct tape dress forms:
Threads Magazine
and even on Instructables

Be very careful of how you wrap your breasts! If you don't want a flat chested bride be sure to work on the diagonal and support, not squish, your boobs.

Have your assistant carefully smooth down each strip of duct tape as he/she goes. This will make the next steps easier.

As you can see from the photo, I used a t-shirt. In hindsight, I think it would have been much easier had I worn long sleeves.

eeVee5 months ago
Amazing ible!
craigtwoyou11 months ago

Your tutorials are well written and informative. My daughter and I made your pirate/ mermaid costume a couple of years ago and it was a big hit when she went out at Halloween. This past Halloween we made this headless bride and it was even more of a success. Here is a picture. Thank you for the g

Thank you so much for such a fab costume idea, I have one very happy little lady this Halloween :)
gbaenen2 years ago
Here is mine, After trial and error next year I will do different things to make it a tad bit easier
gloria halloween costume.jpg
ModMischief (author)  gbaenen2 years ago
Thanks for sharing the picture!
cbragg22 years ago
Thanks for such a great costume idea and instructions. I won $350 with my costume and had such a fun time with it - loads of people wanting to take pictures and people genuinely frightened - especially the kids, here is a picture for you.
ModMischief (author)  cbragg22 years ago
You both look great! Thanks for posting the pictures!
TheDreamer2 years ago
Is there a way to do this without the dress, If you do not have a thrift store nearby and dont have one available to you? I love this idea and would love to have a way to do it without a dress. Hope you continue to have many, many more wonderful ideas.   

ModMischief (author)  TheDreamer2 years ago
If you don't have a long dress you could do the same thing with a long overcoat or trench coat.
sarahabijo2 years ago
here is my version of the Headless Bride. Thanks so much for this idea. I got so much compliment and won a netbook and $200 gc. I was also televise in our local channel News. I cannot walked 2 ft. without someone asking me to take picture. Thanks so much.
abroom3 years ago
I made this and mine did not turn out as well too. I still got many compliments on it though.

melassey3 years ago
thanks for the instructions! Mine didn't come out as good as yours but here is a photo:

I also gave you credit on my blog:
headless costume.jpg
Brittles8883 years ago
I made this costume AND I rigged it up to a squirt bottle with fake blood! (I removed the tip of the nozzle on a squirt bottle and attached a small plastic hose to it with a hose clamp. I attached the end of the hose to the center of the severed neck and clipped the bottle onto my waist. I walked around squirting blood all night. When people got mad about blood getting on them "I said I'm really sorry. I can't help it. My jugular's severed!") I won first prize. :) Thanks for this instructable.
ahastings53 years ago
LOVE THIS.... Made this costume yesterday for a party last night. I used a long sleeve dress with a high neck line because it is cold out in MT. I tried doing the paper part but it did not work out to good for me. I instead wrapped the parts I needed to with masking tape. Because my dress had a high neck and long sleeves I did not have to paint very much, so I bought spray paint. I also stuffed my headless body with towel and used towels for the arms as well... no carboard.
andinofina3 years ago
Quick question, how long should the poles be and where did you get your poles?

Also would you recommend using a different type of poles that's more readily available at Home Depot and Lowes if bamboo poles aren't?
ModMischief (author)  andinofina3 years ago
The length of the poles will depend on the length of your torso and where the backpack sits on your back.

I found the bamboo poles in the garden section of a hardware store, but anything relatively light and strong should work. You could try using broomsticks, pvc pipe, wood dowels or something like that.
i donnt git da bat waen u put thee bambo stiks in the ruksakc lill heelp!!?? gr8 idea tho! :D
ModMischief (author)  Lolmaster1013 years ago
Please see my response to your previous comment
i dont get how you put the bamboo sticks in the backpack????!!! lil help please!!! thankz
ModMischief (author)  Lolmaster1013 years ago
Think of it like the boning in a corset or wire in a bra. You want to make a narrow pocket to hold each pole.

Or if you're in a hurry, you can just use a ton of hot glue and duct tape to hold them in place.
anutt3 years ago
That is tooo freaking cool!
abroom3 years ago
This is awesome! I assume you can't wear it in the car and have to take it off each time you travel to a different destination.
Fun2Hold3 years ago
One word for you: Awesomesauce. ;)
ander5 years ago
And you specifically recommend using this costume in a bowling alley? I do find bowling alleys scary, so that wouldn't be a bad idea.

nagutron ander5 years ago
I had the thought of the bride bowling her own head. Not possible, of course, but a creepy concept...
ModMischief (author)  nagutron5 years ago
Wow, I wish I could pull off something like that.

Not sure how it could be done beyond photoshop, but it would be awesome!
maybe store an arsenal of dummy heads under the dress and just duck your head in real quick when you're throwing that strike? ;)
ladygrail4 years ago
I am thinking of doing a modification of this costume I want to be able to use at least one arm in the costume so I can create the illusions of a headless fortune teller and still read tarot cards. I plan on doing alot of sitting instead of walking. Any suggestions? Thanks a bunch I love your idea.
ModMischief (author)  ladygrail4 years ago
I'm not sure how you could make it work in a sitting position. You might be able to pull it off by sitting on a short step stool under the skirt while people sit on taller chairs in front of you.

For a design that lets you use one arm, check out the Marie Antoinette costume that inspired me:
She has one fake arm "holding" her head and half a fake arm on the other side. Her real forearm comes out at the elbow. You'd obviously need a dress with sleeves to make this work, but that shouldn't be too hard to pull off for a fortune teller.

I'd love to see the finished costume if you work it out!
Hi there, your projects are very awesome, falling in love with it /(=>W<)/ I have one question regarding the choice of wedding dress~ Must it be a floor-length one? I am having one knee-length wedding dress, so I was thinking of convert it into a Headless Bride costume... Thank you & have a nice day ^O^
ModMischief (author)  TsukimiyaJun4 years ago
I think a knee length dress would work as long as it will hide your torso. Just make sure you have an underskirt that matches, to cover your legs.
Dandolion4 years ago
You could save time and effort if you used plaster bandages instead of duct tape and paper mache. you would need to use plastic (think dry cleaning bags) or other mold release (vaseline) under the t-shirt But it would save a step and once dry it would be almost as light.
ModMischief (author)  Dandolion4 years ago
Plaster bandages would definitely work but I don't think you'd save much time or effort. Having used them on my Ludo mask I can tell you that you would need to do several layers of plaster to get it strong enough. Plaster seems to take longer to dry than just paper and glue, so you might even end up spending more time doing it that way.

Another thing to consider is how brittle plaster is. The duct tape and papier mache is still pretty flexible when done. This was a very good thing as I occasionally forgot to duck under doors. I don't know if plaster would have held up as well.

If you do decide to go the plaster route, skip the t-shirt and go topless. Just be sure to use lots of vaseline.
shellyyelly4 years ago
Thank you so much for the excellent costume instructions, I made the headless bride costume last year and took home the 1st place $500.00 prize at our local pub.
where are ur arms and cud u use da same concept foer a grioom ?
ModMischief (author)  trebornerdnoc5 years ago
Step 10: "Your real arms are usually hidden from view under the top skirt, but you still have easy access to drinks whenever you want to break the illusion."

This concept could be adapted to a headless man, but you'd need to have him wearing a long tailed coat or something else to hide your shoulders and torso. With this bride, the wearer's shoulders are hidden by the full skirt and look like hips. The dress is also nice because it hides your lower body and lets you drop to your knees for photos while still looking like you are standing. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished with pants.

If you wanted to turn this into a couple's costume, I think the best bet would be to get the groom to wear stilts so he's as tall as the bride and then have him die another way (stabbed in the back? stake to the heart?).
would it be possible to show how the bamboo sticks are placed? Thanks-fab costume
ModMischief (author)  porcupinemamma5 years ago
Sorry, I don't have a photo of how I attached the poles on the inside. I had to get rid of the costume soon after halloween as I didn't have room for it in my apartment (having her around is like having an extra roommate!).

The bamboo ran parallel as far apart as the width of the inside of the backpack and was secured on the inside of the dummy's shoulders, against the back.
kimmy_girl5 years ago
Hehe- Wayne's World!

I really like this, it looks amazing!
sdhardie5 years ago
I followed your How-To and made this costume for Halloween this year.  I had to make some changes, since my dress was strapless, but overall it looked really fantastic and was a huge hit!!  Thanks for posting the instructions!!
teslafan1005 years ago
That's from "The Encyclopedia Of Immaturity"
ModMischief (author)  teslafan1005 years ago
What's from the Encyclopedia of Immaturity?
This book is the best!  I have tons of paper airplanes because of this book.
eoutlaw5 years ago
I love your costume!
mommyknows15 years ago
Thank you for this. My daughter won first place today @ school.

She was a headless Marie Antoinette, we used your instructable to make the body form.

a headless marie antoinette 

See more at:  Headless Marie Antoinette Costume
Bill_D_3rd5 years ago
Nice work on a great Instructable. My daughter has that same picture of Audrey Hepburn. From Breakfast at Tiffany's I believe...
kylara705 years ago
I don't "do" halloween, but I am impressed by your creativity!  Thanks for sharing and I hope some day I can find another use for the concept.
Kylara - I admire and support your attitude towards halloween.
Einarjon5 years ago
Slapping a pork chop on the neck might be a nice touch (although it might be a bit too disgusting), as it is meat and bone sticking out.
Kitiarra5 years ago
When I first saw it I actually thought it was going to be another, "hell no I can't do it project". It seems pretty simple, and your instructions are wonderful. Thank you!
rachel5 years ago
Awesome!  I love this.  Fantastic use of duct tape too.
Nice Duct Tapes!
T-K5 years ago
How about... a headless horseman? A male version of this awesome instructable.
ktalex5 years ago
one word   DAUM!!
filmsay5 years ago
Hah, first thought "what the hell!"

*love* it!! very clever!
kcli5 years ago
This is the BEST!!!!!  Thanks so much for outlining the process (and you'll be getting my vote)..  So creative and inspirational!

I also appreciate that you are my height - - I thought only short peeps could get away with this type of costume.  (Of course I'll need to find a convertible when going out, but that's a different issue.)  Best of luck!.
ycc21065 years ago
Great idea! and you could add a famtom-esk feel by sliding: using askateboard? (though I'm not sure how difficult it is on your knees)
I'm definitely going to use this concept in my costume this year. i wontbe a bride though lol

nicemag5 years ago
Hey it looks great! The duct tape is a stroke of genius! Thanks forshowing me.
l8nite5 years ago
 I was trying to think of a polite way to ask if you are reallysshort or the guy in the pic just very tall but you answered thequestion... This is a really cool idea, about how long did it take youto make?
ModMischief (author)  l8nite5 years ago
It took me about two weeks to finish the costume, working in the evenings while I watched tv (and worked on other costumes).
The costume could probably be completed over a weekend if youworked  steady at it.
The longest part is waiting for the papier mache and paint to dry between layers.
codongolev5 years ago
V-Man7375 years ago
Might I say, that's totally BA.
zomfibame5 years ago
THAT is a great costume. very cool; and funny in a dark way.