Factoring in sustainability when making wedding decisions goes a long way, especially since the wedding industry continues to leave a massive carbon footprint at present. According to the Green Bride Guide, an average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of carbon dioxide.
A wedding dress is also arguably one of the most unsustainable purchases we can make. We spend a huge amount of money only to wear them once. While this isn’t always a bad idea, choosing to look stunning while being sustainable can be a better option.
There are numerous sustainable wedding dress options to choose from, so selecting the right dress for you may seem overwhelming. To help make it easy for you to say “yes” to “the one”, we’ve created a step-by-step guide on how you can choose the best—beautiful and sustainable—dress for you. Let’s hop on!
What is a sustainable wedding dress?
A sustainable wedding dress is clothing made from eco-friendly materials and/or by a brand with the reduction of its social and environmental impact at its core.
Some forms of sustainable wedding dresses are secondhand, rented or borrowed, vintage or upcycled, made with zero waste or from recycled materials, custom-made or bespoke, made from biodegradable fabrics, and may be produced by brands with eco-friendly and charitable initiatives.
Bringing an ethical edge to your “big” day
Let’s walk you through this useful guide to shopping for your wedding dress. With these, you can walk down the aisle with an ethical, sustainable edge.
1. Define your 3 “Ts”
These three important Ts are the following: timeline, type of gown, and total budget.
First, establish your timeline for planning and buying your wedding dress to avoid any stressful last-minute shopping. Ideally, it’s best to start searching for dress inspirations and planning appointments at around six months to one year before your wedding day, if possible. This enables you to have ample time for fitting, customization, alterations, and delivery. Who knows, you might even score off-the-rack designs with huge discounts!
Another thing you want to consider is the type of sustainable gown you’d want to wear. This will help you proceed to the next step—identifying where to purchase your gown. Ask yourself, do you want to rent a dress, purchase secondhand clothing, or buy a made-to-measure one?
Lastly, come up with a realistic total budget you’d like to allot to ensure that your wedding expenses are kept in check. Remember to also take into consideration tax, shipping (if you’re not buying in-store), and alteration fees.
To prepare for your ultimate purchase better, try considering these shopping tips.
2. Select sustainable fabrics and materials
To stay sustainable, choose a dress made from eco-friendly textiles and materials. But to do this, brides-to-be like you need to be aware of the various wedding dress fabric types before going to bridal appointments. This will help you get a feel of the style you want.
Sustainable fabrics are often produced using natural or recycled materials. These include hemp, organic cotton, wool, bamboo, linen, silk, modal, reclaimed fabric or deadstock, and recycled polyester. If you want to try modern and innovative fabrics, consider Tencel, Piñatex, and Econyl.
You can also scroll through Pinterest or check this out if you love celebrity-inspired wedding dresses.
3. Look for ethically-minded brands
To make the most eco-friendly dress choice, you can look for brands or designers who identify as ethical. Since they have already mastered the art of their craft, you don’t have to fret if you haven’t done your research because they can surely help you outline and actualize the dress style you envision.
There are many eco-conscious shops you can consider. There’s Brides Do Good, which is a charity-driven and sustainable London-based bridal boutique offering new and pre-loved dresses. Another is Reformation, a Los Angeles-based shop that champions sustainable business practices. If you want to order online, you can also consider Once Wed, which has over 5,000 wedding dresses to choose from.
The less your dress has to travel means a lesser carbon footprint. Thus, it’s an advantage to opt for local shops near you. This way, you get to reduce your carbon footprint, save time and money, and support local artisans and small businesses. Many local ones offer exquisite wedding dresses and even accessories, so consider them too.
4. Brace yourself for bridal fitting
Once you’ve added a couple of design and shop options to your list, it’s time to prepare yourself for your bridal sizing. Prior to your appointment schedule, it helps to research more on how you want your gown to look. This way, the dress creation (if custom-made) or selection (if ready-made) process will be a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Take note also that dress sizes are usually a lot smaller than usual so it helps to choose a dress with enough seam allowance. Many gowns can also be altered one to two sizes down, so it’s easier to buy a dress that’s a little bigger than one that’s smaller.
5. Choose what feels comfortable and right for you
Before you finally choose your bridal gown among your pool of options, it helps to also consider what type of dress silhouette you’d like to wear that accentuates your best features. Note that bridal gown silhouettes fall into several categories, which include ball gown, A-line, sheath, empire, fit-and-flare, and mermaid. You can opt to try on one of each to help you identify which style works best for your shape. Whatever your style, you can choose to wear what you want. But ensure its comfortability as you don’t want to experience any wardrobe malfunction or struggle during your special day.
Remember, it’s your body, and it’s your day. So, choose the dress that feels comfortable and right for you.
Heed this guide and you’ll surely strut your most glamorous and sustainable style on your wedding day. We’re rooting for you, bride-to-be!
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website's content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra's expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.