The Ultimate Guide to Ethical Wedding Dresses

By April 13, 2018Fashion, Lifestyle
Ethical wedding dresses feature - bride on a beach

So it’s hard enough finding the partner of your dreams, but finding the perfect wedding dress can be a total nightmare.  That’s even before you look for a gown that’s also sustainable!

As always at Good on You, we take inspiration from Fashion Hound’s Faye De Lanty who says she found the perfect dress through Australia’s first ethical wedding fair, organised by Less Stuff More Meaning, where she came into contact with Lenka Couture. Faye’s dress was sustainably made from recycled dresses and fabric. She also used the natural dyes from onion skins to create copper tones for her bridesmaid dresses.

However, it’s not always easy for the pieces to fall into place. So we’ve compiled a list of places to start in your own hunt for ‘the one’.

Something Old

The best thing you can do for the environment when it comes to choosing a wedding dress is to find something pre-existing, rather than creating from scratch.


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 plethora of options, they don’t always guarantee that the item will be of a high quality.

So try one of these vintage bridal shop alternatives.

The Bare Faced Bride

Vintage Wedding Dress barefaced BrideVintage Lace 1950’s Ruby Gown | Ships internationally

This Sydney bridal studio sells preloved designer, designer samples and curated vintage dresses. Inspired by her own 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

Oxfam 1950s wedding dress

1950s Ivory Dress with Floral Overlay | Ships Internationally

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.


Vivian Elise Vintage, 1970s Wedding Gown | Ships Internationally

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.


The vintage look is not for everyone. However, secondhand 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 which connects current brides with past ones.

Once Wed

Once Wed second hand wedding dress

Vera Wang Gown | Ships Internationally

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”. With the aim 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 Vera Wang gown, which has never been worn or altered.

Still White

Houghton NYC, Windy Skirt and Clarke Top | Ships Internationally

With thousands of preloved wedding dresses to choose from, Still White is a huge worldwide marketplace for secondhand wedding dresses.  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.  Check out this beautiful skirt and top combo – the top can be paired with some pants for a second life beyond the big day.

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Something New

Buying secondhand might not be the right option for you. Maybe you don’t want your special dress worn by anyone but you, or maybe you just can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand.

Never fear! You can still stay true to your ethical values with one of these phenomenal ethical designers.

Green Embassy 

Silent Rainforest Gown

Australian label Green Embassy create gorgeous eco-conscious evening and bridal wear.  The label uses GOTS-certified organic fabrics, which ensures they are sourced in environmentally and socially conscious ways.  Green Embassy’s Silent Rainforest range is popular with brides looking for something a little different.


Sorrento Dress| Ships internationally

Known for their beautiful designs and dedication to sustainable practice, Reformation  offers an amazing formalwear range for brides-to-be, bridesmaids and wedding guests alike! Reformation scores highly on the Good On You app for its great environmental commitmentments to minimise packaging and reuse fabric offcuts. Reformation’s elegant bridal dresses range from modern to classic styles.

Celia Grace 

Eleanor Gown | Ships internationally

Bridal dresses from US label Celia Grace are all about ethical practice, elegance and comfort. Dresses are handmade from mostly eco-silk, organic cotton and lace by seamstresses in Cambodia and India, who are provided with a living wage and safe work conditions. Celia Grace is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and uses non-toxic dyes and sources fabrics close to its production sites to minimise the carbon footprint from shipping.

Lost in Paris 

Lost in Paris Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver Dress | Ships internationally

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. All dresses are made by hand in Sydney.  

Discover more ethical fashion in the Good On You app!

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 dying or altering it
  3. Selling it afterwards, to perpetuate the second hand cycle
  4. Ensuring that you dress is well-made so that you can keep it for generations to come /span>

Something Borrowed

It’s not uncommon for grooms parties to hire out suits for the day, so it’s surprising that this trend is so taboo for the other half of the bridal party!

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 USA-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 offer a 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 

Stella McCartney  

stella McCartney blue underwear

Ophelia Whistling Soft Cup Bra +Briefs

Stella McCartney is one of the few well-known designers to take ethics and sustainability into the heart of her creations.  Strictly fur and leather-free, the brand also scores points for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.  If your modern green wedding needs the traditional ‘something blue’ why not go with this lovely lace bra and briefs set.

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Feature image via Anthony Tran on Unsplash.  Additional images via Instagram (@celiagraceweddingdresses) and brands and websites mentioned

Maddie Dockrill

Author Maddie Dockrill

Maddie studies science, and is passionate about the environment and sustainability. Her interests include animals, travelling, and sleeping in.

More posts by Maddie Dockrill

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