When you envision your wedding day, there’s a good chance your wedding gown is front and center. Every bride deserves to feel radiant as they walk down the aisle — but is it possible to find a stunning gown without sacrificing your eco-conscious values? Absolutely! Here are a few suggestions for sourcing the perfect sustainable wedding dress:
Wear a Family Heirloom or Purchase a Secondhand Gown
With a little creativity, a hand-me-down dress can be altered to suit a more current style (and no, I’m not talking about shredding it to unrecognizable proportions a la 27 Dresses!). Removing dated puff sleeves, altering the neckline, adjusting the hem or train length, and even changing the silhouette are all in the realm of possibility for a skilled alterations professional. Just be sure to ask for references and before-and-after photos of their bridal work before allowing them to take a pair of scissors to a family heirloom!
The same alterations can be done to a gown you find at a thrift store, consignment shop, or antique store. Just remember that it’s easier to take a dress in than let it out, so err on the larger side when possible.
A word of caution: The delicate fabrics used for most wedding gowns may not be able to be treated if they’re already stained. Make sure the parts of the fabric you plan to keep intact are pristine!
Purchase a Dress You Can Alter and Wear Again
It’s common to hear people talk about altering and wearing bridesmaid dresses again, but why not your own wedding dress? If you choose a simple design, it can easily be hemmed and/or taken in after your big day to become a lovely dress you would actually enjoy wearing to a nice occasion. You can even consider dying it a different color! There’s a good chance nobody will recognize it as the same dress you wore down the aisle, and you will feel more comfortable knowing you’re getting much more use out of your purchase.
Purchase a New Gown Made with Sustainable Materials
Most wedding gowns are made with imported materials produced in sweatshops, often bleached with toxic chemicals to achieve the white look most brides desire on their wedding day. But just because MOST gowns are made that way doesn’t mean you’re out of luck!
As more and more brides seek out the perfect sustainable wedding dress, more and more designers are stepping up to the plate and delivering.
A host of sustainable fabric choices is available now, with results every bit as beautiful as any traditional material: Hemp (not the bumpy stuff, but a smooth-spun alternative), Organic Cotton, Peace Silk, Tencel, Modal, and Bamboo are a few fabrics to keep an eye out for.
Where to Shop
Here’s a list of places to start your search online.
But keep in mind: what appeals to you in a photo may not give you butterflies in real life! Consider visiting a local bridal boutique to determine what silhouette, color, and hemline you like best on your body before you scour the internet for the perfect sustainable wedding dress.
- Vintage Vixen
Vintage gowns and formalwear. Search their “Wedding Wear” section for current finds.
- Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses
A huge online source for used wedding gowns! Search by designer, size, style, color, etc.
Vintage gowns — Rumor has it the store is closing soon, so you may be able to snag an awesome deal here!
- Bridal Garden
Not-for-profit bridal shop selling one of a kind dresses. Proceeds benefit education for disadvantaged children.
- The Frock
Antique vintage couture — scour their “Bridal Shop” section for current finds.
- Ethical Weddings
One-of-a-kind wedding dresses handmade to your liking using ethical practices and materials.
- Deborah Lindquist
Designer of wedding apparel and more, made from recycled, sustainable, and organic fabrics.
Search for terms like “vintage wedding dress” or commission your perfect sustainable wedding dress by working directly with talented gown designer.