One of the most special and exciting parts of the wedding planning process is choosing the perfect wedding dress! For many brides, this means choosing a gown that is not only gorgeous but is also ethical and eco-friendly. As the fast fashion industry undergoes more and more scrutiny for unfair labor practices and unsustainable environmental practices, there are more options now than ever when it comes to feeling good in your dress and feeling good about your dress.
1. Shop secondhand
The most eco-friendly wedding dress options are secondhand dresses. As these dresses have already been made, the only additional resources they require are shipping. Thanks to the internet, an increasing number of brides are opting to sell their dresses shortly after their nuptials, meaning that many of these styles will be current and on-trend. Purchasing a secondhand dress can also be a great way to find a stunning designer dress for half the price! Budget-friendly and eco-friendly? We love it! Click here for a list of secondhand wedding dress sites to get started with!
2. Wear or repurpose a family heirloom
Is their a family dress tucked away somewhere that you’d be interested in wearing? Perhaps your mom, grandmother, aunt, or another relative has been storing a dress perfect for your special day! Wearing a family dress is a beautiful way to add a touch of tradition to your wedding day, and is also economical and eco-friendly. If the style is a little too vintage for your taste, try working with a local designer to see if you can take this something old and transform it into something new! Even if you don’t love it for the wedding day itself, a repurposed gown could make for an excellent rehearsal dinner dress.
3. Rent your dress
Speaking of something old and something new, consider trying something borrowed! We’ve all heard about renting tuxes for the wedding, so why not try renting a wedding dress? Wedding dress rentals are extremely affordable and eco-friendly, as they will be worn several times over their lifespan. Rented dresses cost anywhere from $50 for more casual dresses to $2,000 for luxury, designer gowns. Just make sure you’re renting from a reputable company, and try to find one that allows you to try the dress on well before your date so you can be certain it is the one. Check out this post for tips on finding the perfect rented gown and a great list of rental companies.
4. Search for an ethical, sustainably-minded designer
If you are struggling to find a secondhand option you love, that’s okay! There are still plenty of options to make sure your dream dress is as eco-friendly as possible. An easy way to do this is by specifically shopping for dresses produced by a sustainably-minded designer. These designers will already know all about the most eco-friendly materials, fair-trade production practices, low-waste cutting techniques, and will probably be paying attention to sustainable details we wouldn’t even think of!
5. Buy locally made or made in your country
Another great option to reduce your garment’s carbon footprint is shopping for locally made dresses! Try looking for gown made in closer to home, as opposed to importing from another country. The less distance your dress has to travel, the less impact it has on the environment!
6. Choose sustainable, ethical materials
When choosing your wedding dress, carefully consider the type of fabric you’d like it to be made of. Fair trade fabrics, though sometimes a bit more expensive help to ensure that your gown is ethical and that workers are fairly compensated. You can also search for fabrics that are vegan, organic, or sustainably grown. Remember-just because a dress wasn’t specifically made by a sustainable designer doesn’t mean that the fabric isn’t eco-friendly. When shopping for dresses, try thinking about which of these fabric options work best for you, and ask to try on dresses with these in mind!
7. Sell your dress after
While it can be tempting to keep your dress for posterity or to someday even pass down to a daughter or family member, selling your dress after your special day is a great way to help the environment. Not only will you be able to earn some money back, but you’ll also allow other brides the opportunity to purchase a gorgeous gown second hand. While it is usually easiest to sell a dress soon after your wedding (particularly if the style is current), you don’t have to make the decision right away. If you are on the fence about keeping or selling your gown, consider waiting a year and then re-evaluate. If you’ve decided you’re definitely looking to sell your dress, consider listing your gown on sites like Nearly Newlywed, Borrowing Magnolia, Pre Owned Wedding Dresses, or Still White, to name a few!
8. Find a green cleaner/preserver
For those choosing to keep your wedding dresses, search for a wedding dress cleaner and preserver that values the environment! There are different ways to go about cleaning and preserving a wedding dress, so ask around to see what eco-friendly or sustainable practices your local dress preserver is taking. If you have an option, send your dress to someone who strives to include sustainability into their business practices!
9. Try incorporating other eco-friendly ideas into your wedding planning
Selecting a wedding dress can be stressful enough, without the added pressures of choosing a sustainable, secondhand, or eco-friendly gown! Use these tips as a helpful guideline to get started, and remember to be kind to yourself. If you find the perfect gown, but don’t love some of the sustainability aspects, consider other ways you can incorporate eco-friendly ideas into your wedding.
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Here at Petals for Hope, we are passionate about reducing waste from weddings and events and helping our communities. To learn more about how our nonprofit can help you recycle your wedding flowers and distribute them to those in need, click here!
For more great tips on planning an eco-friendly wedding, check out these posts: