The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Wedding Dresses - Good On You
Whimsy + Row Wedding Dress Feature Img
10 May
Whimsy + Row Wedding Dress Feature Img

The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Wedding Dresses

Let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to find the partner of your dreams, but finding the perfect wedding dress? Daunting, to say the least. And that’s before you look for a gown made with the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants in mind!

Eco-conscious brides, grooms, and couples everywhere are having more mindful celebrations and ethical weddings. Even royals like Meghan Markle and Princess Beatrice opted for eco-friendly wedding and reception dresses, Markle with a stunning Stella McCartney number and Princess Beatrice with a vintage gown on loan from the Queen. This kind of exposure to more sustainable gown options can only be a good thing for the wedding industry, which is typically highly polluting. According to research in The Green Bride Guide, the average wedding produces 400lbs (200kg) of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that means 1 billion lbs of trash and the emissions equivalent of what 4 people would produce in a year in just one day!

So, this ultimate guide to ethical and sustainable wedding dresses is here to make at least one part of your wedding experience a little less stressful and a little more compassionate. Here’s a list of places to start in your hunt for ‘the one’, 2.0.

Something old

The best thing you can do for the environment when choosing a wedding dress is to find something pre-existing!

Vintage

Vintage gowns can leave a lasting impression. However, poring over racks of gowns in vintage shops takes time and a good eye for picking out diamonds in the rough. And while sites like eBay can provide you with a plethora of options, they don’t always guarantee that the item will be of high quality.

So try one of these vintage bridal shop alternatives:

The BareFaced Bride – Amanda Garrett Couture Wedding Gown

This Sydney bridal studio sells pre-loved designer gowns, designer samples, and curated vintage dresses. Inspired by her struggle to find a wedding dress, owner Melanie Bowman offers brides-to-be a memorable and personalised shopping experience tailored to their own unique story.

Oxfam UK – Vintage Lace Wedding Gown

Oxfam Shops are well known amongst fashion fans as a place to nab some bargain quality threads, and that includes wedding dresses. Their online store has an extensive range of vintage gowns in all shapes, sizes, and eras. So whether you’re going the full 1980s meringue or 1960s flower child, you can find something that fits the bill.

Etsy – 1930’s Art Deco Blush Satin Wedding Dress

Etsy is where great vintage stores show off a selection of their best garments. Stores like Maryland USA-based Vivian Elise Vintage specialise in restoring beautiful dresses to their former glory. This gorgeously simple 1970s-era gown would be the perfect lightweight dress for a summer wedding.

Second hand

The vintage look is not for everyone. However, second hand does not necessarily have to mean vintage. For an eco-conscious bride-to-be who prefers more modern styles, try one of these great sites that connect current brides with past ones.

Once Wed

With over 5,000 dresses available on their online marketplace, there is a high chance the dress of your dreams could already be waiting for you. Once Wed was launched in 2008 and has since become one of the “top wedding websites in the world“. To inspire brides-to-be, Once Wed offers a variety of content from wedding ideas to real-life inspiration. There are some great finds to be had, like this 2020 Vera Wang gown.

Still White

Still White is a huge worldwide marketplace for second hand wedding dresses with thousands of pre-loved wedding dresses to choose from. Offering a variety of filters, including size, price, condition, and style, Still White allows you to shop by price or by design, making the search for that perfect dress a little bit easier.

Borrowing Magnolia

Borrowing Magnolia is an expansive bridal marketplace with designer wedding dresses from renowned designers worldwide. Along the way, the brand has made sustainability a cornerstone of its mission, ensuring that the brand leaves a trail of social and environmental impact along the way. Borrowing Magnolia is a treasure chest for an eco-minded bride-to-be on a dress hunt!

Something new

Buying second hand might not be the right option for you. Maybe you don’t want your special dress worn by anyone but you, or perhaps you can’t find what you’re looking for second hand.
Never fear! You can still stay true to your ethical values with one of these phenomenal brands bringing you the ethical and sustainable wedding dresses of your dreams.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great
woman wearing blush wedding dress with bow on back by Christy Dawn

The Liv Dress – Ships internationally from the US

Christy Dawn is a minimalist showroom for vintage-inspired women’s clothing and footwear, locally made with surplus fabric. The US brand rates ‘Great’, making it a fabulous boho option for your wardrobe. With her delicate A-line silhouette and low-cut back, The Liv Dress is ready for your most special day, wherever and whenever that might be! The Liv Dress features thin straps and a sweet bow at the back, as well as a ruched bodice with a thin cut out detail and empire waist. Might we suggest a simple flower crown to complete the look?

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Shop Christy Dawn.

Reformation

Rated: Good
woman wearing floral wrap dress by Reformation

Winslow Dress – Ships internationally from the US

Known for its beautiful designs and dedication to sustainable practice, Reformation offers an amazing formalwear range for brides-to-be, bridesmaids, and wedding guests alike! Reformation’s elegant bridal dresses range from modern to classic styles, like this stunning yet comfortable wrap dress.

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Shop Reformation Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Reformation @ Farfetch.

Shop Reformation.

Lost In Paris

Rated: Great
woman wearing one of Lost in Paris' ethical and sustainable wedding dresses in lace

Edwardian – Ships internationally from Australia

Sydney-based label Lost in Paris are creators of ‘dresses laced with history.’ They make stunning custom-made wedding dresses from salvaged lace found in antique shops all over the world. The brand’s Edwardian dress is a nostalgic tribute to the styles and craftsmanship of yesteryear. Painstakingly pieced together from century-old lace, this one-of-a-kind dress has a history and a story to tell. All dresses are made by hand in Sydney.

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Shop Lost in Paris.

Mara Hoffman @ Rêve en Vert

Rated: Good
older woman wearing hemp wedding dress by Mara Hoffman

White Hemp Silvana Dress – Ships internationally from the US

With a focus on mindful and conscious practices, Mara Hoffman uses eco-friendly materials including GOTS certified cotton, recycled nylon, and recycled polyester, and even has a range of Oeko-Tex STeP certified products. Made from 100% Hemp, this A-Line dress features a wide V neckline, fitted bodice, and full skirt cropped at ankle to keep you glowing and gorgeous on your big day!

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Shop Mara Hoffman @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Mara Hoffman @ Farfetch.

Shop Mara Hoffman Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Mara Hoffman.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good
women wearing silky ethical and sustainable wedding dresses by Whimsy + Row

Fiona Dress – Ships internationally from the US

Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and sustainable practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern, sustainable woman. By limiting each garment to short runs, Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, reduces packaging waste, and takes care of precious water resources. The silky Fiona Dress is elegant yet sophisticated, and is a perfect option for a non-white ethical wedding dress!

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Shop Whimsy + Row.

Beaumont Organic

Rated: Good
woman wearing white simple organic wedding dress by Beaumont Organic

Priya Linen Dress In Off White – Ships internationally from the UK

Looking for something simple and light? Look no further! Beaumont Organic’s Priya Linen Dress in off-white is a halter-neck dress made from 100% luxury linen. Enjoy tie fastening at back of the neck, and soft ruffle detailing at the bottom. Founded by Hannah Beaumont-Laurencia, the brand also has its own charitable foundation which supports people in Fiji.

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Shop Beaumont Organic @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Beaumont Organic.

ARIELLE

Rated: Good
woman of colour wearing wide white sustainable wedding dress by ARIELLE

The Circle Dress – Ships internationally from the US

ARIELLE is a US-based sustainable apparel label committed to organic, recycled, and zero-waste fabrics, local manufacturing, fair-trade supply chains, and plastic-free packaging and production. In line with this ethos, the Circle Dress embodies elegant simplicity in a timeless cut and heavyweight Irish linen. This V-neck sheath dress features on seam pockets and raw hem in a full length. A seasonless style with endless styling possibilities for a bride-to-be!

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Shop ARIELLE.

LANIUS

Rated: Good
woman wearing simple cream dress by LANIUS

Midi Dress – Ships to Europe from Germany

“Love Fashion, Think Organic, Be Responsible” are the maxims of LANIUS. The German brand uses eco-friendly materials, like GOTS certified cotton. All LANIUS facilities are SA8000 certified and it is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. Minimal and delicate, the Midi Dress is the dress for the special occasion or a particularly feminine-summery day look. Made from 100% cotton, the top is body-hugging and the skirt is slightly flared. Beautiful!

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Shop LANIUS.

Indie Bride

Rated: Good
women wearing Indie Bride open back ethical and sustainable wedding dresses by Indie Bride

Anya Dress– Ships internationally from the UK

Indie Bride designs gorgeous lace ethical and sustainable wedding dresses to take you through your wedding day and beyond. The floor-skimming Anya dress is made of thick and luxurious silk marocain. It has a gorgeous low, open back and fitted long sleeves. The floor-sweeping maxi length skirt has a gorgeous train to add instant glamour to your special day.

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Shop Indie Bride.

Maggie Marilyn

Rated: Good
black woman wearing puff sleeves pure white ethical wedding dress by Maggie Marilyn

Feel the Breeze Dress – Ships internationally from New Zealand

Need-to-know designer Maggie Marilyn’s clothes are defined by her strong sense of luxury and fresh point of view. Inspired to create collections that are sustainable as well as beautiful, the New Zealand-based label utilizes organic cottons and ethically produced silks to craft effortlessly glamorous designs. Crisp and classic, the Breeze Dress features softly puffed sleeves so you can look stunning as you walk down the aisle.

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Shop Maggie Marilyn @ Farfetch.

Shop Maggie Marilyn Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Maggie Marilyn.

Alexander McQueen (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start
pre loved Alexander McQueen wedding dress

Pre-Owned Alexander McQueen Mid-Length Dress in White – Ships internationally from Paris

The iconic British fashion house, owned by Kering and now run by Sarah Burton (who designed Catherine Middleton’s dress for her wedding to Prince William), is characterised by theatrical and bright styling. The brand has started to improve its environmental practices by setting a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gases in its own operations and supply chain by 50% per unit of revenue by 2025. Feeling skeptical? Give a McQueen garment another life by purchasing this pre-owned gown that features a long, white bodice with multiple ruffles on the sleeves and bottom so you can flounce in glamour the whole night!

Want more styles? Check out this pre-owned beaded McQueen.

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Shop Alexander McQueen Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Dressarte Paris

Rated: Good
digital wedding gown

Dressarte Paris is a custom-made clothing label that curates unique clothing for a worldwide clientele. It sources luxurious surplus and eco-friendly fabrics to create a wonderfully chic sustainable wardrobe. Its products are made to order where you can choose from existing sizes, or enter in your own measurements for a custom order that not only minimises textile waste but celebrates all sizes! Fully committed to their ethos, Dressarte Paris has created the first-ever fully digital wedding collection, debuting their latest styles of ethical and sustainable wedding dresses without ever producing it. Neat!

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Shop Dressarte Paris.

Taiyo @ Immaculate Vegan

Rated: Good
woman of colour wearing linen dress by Taiyo

The Kiera Dress – Ships internationally from the US

Taiyo is a philosophy-first womenswear brand dropping one look at a time. The Kiera Dress is a sustainable gown featuring an easy silhouette and invisible side zipper. This beauty is made from 100% deadstock fabric, meaning it’s rescued leftover fabric from textile mills that would have otherwise been thrown out in a landfill. It was produced in a limited quantity in Los Angeles, CA at a small, ethical and sustainable factory called Nana Atelier. Love!

See the rating.

Shop Taiyo @ Immaculate Vegan.

BASTET NOIR

Rated: Good
woman wearing one of Bastet Noir's ethical and sustainable wedding dresses in champagne

The Michelle Dress – Ships internationally from Macedonia

If walking down the aisle in white is not your thing, we’re here to help! BASTET NOIR’s Michelle Dress in champagne is a gorgeous alternative. The design for the gown is inspired by Michelle Pfieffer’s infamous role in Scarface and her choice of silky slip dresses. The beige bareback dress has pleated details at the front that fall gently around the neckline. The open back of the dress is complemented with two gentle thick straps and a frill detailed skirt with an ankle-length. BASTET NOIR offers custom-made clothing manufactured by women in Macedonia, ensuring that every purchase contributes to the welfare and education of these women and their children.

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Shop BASTET NOIR.

Pure Magnolia

Rated: Good
one of Magnolia's ethical and sustainable wedding dresses available on Etsy

Paz Gown – Ships within Canada

Pure Magnolia is a Canadian brand that designs ethical and sustainable wedding dresses for the bride who expects more and wants to feel amazing. Paz is a stunner from the brand’s 2021 collection. With a slight nod to a 1940’s silhouette, this sleek A-line silk dress with a plunging V and nipped waist is a gorgeous look for brides wanting a timeless piece, while the high front slit adds some serious drama. Wow!

See the rating.

Shop Pure Magnolia.

After the ceremony

Being an ethical bride doesn’t end when the honeymoon begins. One of the biggest goals for an eco-conscious bride is to make sure that both the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses have more than a one-wear life.

So if you’ve gone with something new, you can give your dress a second life by:

  1. Finding a dress that can be worn on multiple occasions
  2. Repurposing your dress by dyeing or altering it
  3. Selling it afterwards to perpetuate the second hand cycle
  4. Ensuring that your dress is well-made so that you can keep it for generations to come

Something borrowed

It’s not uncommon to hire out suits for the day, so it’s surprising that this trend is taboo for the party’s dress-wearers!

With the ‘rent-a-dress’ trend on the rise, eco-conscious brides can consider hiring a dress instead. Saving you a fortune, the rental movement sees beautiful dresses being loved over and over again, rather than rotting away in the back of the closet after one wear.

Vow To Be Chic

Vow to be Chic is a US-based bridal rental service. With the intent to “deliver luxury at affordable prices”, the online experience has complimentary bridal stylists available to help decide between the thousands of designer dresses on offer. Their “great fit” program allows you to request fabric swatches and gives detailed fitting guidance to ensure brides the perfect fit for the perfect day.

Glam Corner

Sydney-based formal wear rental service Glam Corner offers a wide variety of dresses to suit all tastes and occasions. The business also aims to introduce smaller designers to a larger market while emphasising the importance of environmental sustainability.

Something blue

Underprotection

Rated: Good
woman wearing light blue sustainable lingerie by Underprotection

Luna Hipster – Ships internationally from Sweden

Underprotection is a Danish brand combining ethics and aesthetics, creating underwear, loungewear, and swimwear from sustainable materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton. All of its packaging, paper, and polybags are either recycled or biodegradable, and it only works with certified factories as it believes “fair working conditions and fair wages are human rights”. Underprotection exists to celebrate women of all kinds, and its goal is to make them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible—including on their wedding night! If you’re a traditional bride who wants something blue to complete the special day, the Luna set is gorgeous, or browse the rest of the sustainable blue lingerie pieces to find the perfect look for you.

See the rating.

Shop Underprotection.

Shop Underprotection @ LVR Sustainable.

Editor's note

Feature image via Whimsy + Row, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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