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Let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to find the partner of your dreams, but finding the perfect wedding attire? Daunting, to say the least. And that’s before you look for an outfit made with the wellbeing of the planet and its inhabitants in mind. We went on the hunt for the best sustainable and ethical wedding outfits to match your marriage to your morals on your special day.
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 four people would produce in a year in just one day.
So, this ultimate guide to ethical wedding outfits 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.
Vintage, second hand, and rental wedding attire
The best thing you can do for the environment when choosing a wedding outfit is to find something pre-existing.
Vintage gowns and suits 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 why not try a vintage bridal shop alternative, such as Oxfam Shops, which 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 is also where great vintage stores show off a selection of their best garments.
The vintage look is not for everyone. However, second hand does not necessarily have to mean vintage. For an eco-conscious bride and groom-to-be who prefers more modern styles, try one of these great sites that connect current couples 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 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 2013 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.
- The Loop: If you’re looking for preowned luxury bridal wear, then take a look at The Loop. The company offers a curated selection of stunning gowns, aiming to amplify the belief, that considering the finite resources needed to create luxury clothing, more thought should be given to its lifecycle thereafter.
- Vestiaire Collective: Since launching in 2009, Vestiaire Collective has grown from a French company to a global one whilst maintaining a strong Parisian DNA. Vestiaire Collective is “the leading online marketplace to buy and sell authenticated pre-owned luxury fashion” and with some digging, you’ll also be able to find some gorgeous looks for your special day.
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.
Buying second hand or borrowing might not be the right options for you. Maybe you don’t want your special dress or suit 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 wedding outfits of your dreams.