Congratulations! You’ve found the human of your dreams and are preparing for your happily ever after… you would be forgiven for thinking the search is over- but may soon find out, the end of one quest opens the door to a whole new one: I’m talking about the quest for the perfect wedding dress; a notoriously challenging search.
However, by thinking imaginatively and working the right people you can ensure you find a dress that is a true reflection of your unique personality for your special day- stunning and kind the planet all at once.
This guide to sustainable wedding dress choices offers a variety of ways to source and re-use your wedding gown sustainably- following these tips will ensure you feel doubly good about what you wear for your wedding.
As the saying goes: Something Old is a great place to start.
I believe one of the best things you can do for the environment, when choosing a wedding dress, is find something pre-existing, rather than creating from scratch.
I myself got married in a very simple, second hand silk gown that I bought on Ebay! I wanted something ultra-understated and non-fussy for my casual, little garden wedding so this was perfect for me. Second-hand dresses are a fabulous option for any eco-conscious bride-to-be who would prefer a modern look. While I got lucky with a site like eBay (I knew which dress I wanted already so was able to look for this style somewhat easily), I don’t expect everybody to be as fortunate with this approach. Not to mention, part of the joy for many brides-to-be is the experience of physically shopping for ‘the’ gown.
If second-hand fits with you, Melbourne based Love Me Twice is definitely worth checking out. Offering a curated collection of pre-loved, upcycled, sample and ethically made wedding dresses. Love Me Twice’s personalised, relaxed service will appease any shopping urges as well as sustainable pre-requisites.
For an online option I recommend visiting Still White, the largest global marketplace for pre-owned, used and second hand wedding dresses. It’s a double-sided marketplace so you can later sell your dress on here too! Once Wed is another online marketplace offering great used, sample and even new (unworn) designer dresses for less. Even if you’ve already purchased your dream dress- it’s well worth considering selling it on one of these sites so your gorgeous gown can be enjoyed by another blushing bride once you’re a new Mrs.
Had I planned a less-casual wedding, I’m almost certain I would have worn a vintage gown.
I love everything and anything vintage! The quality, the history, the lasting impression. But trawling through rack after rack of gowns in second-hand shops takes a particular type of patience, a keen eye and perhaps even, a hint of blind faith(!).
The shrewd vintage bride will visit an outlet with a dedicated bridal collection. My absolute fave is based right here in Byron Bay. Arcade Vintage Boutique, who individually select wedding gowns from around the world showcase a simply divine bridal range. Their garments are of the utmost quality and offer you a totally unique style for your big day. I must admit, I’m tempted to renew my vows just so I can wear one of these amazing pieces… (not kidding!)
For Sydney-siders, The Bare Faced Bride bridal studio offers a beautiful range of curated vintage dresses. The Bare Faced Bride also offer second hand and sample options so if you’re not quite sure which option is right for you, it’s a great outlet to explore.
Having said all that, ‘Something Old’ can’t be for everybody.
There are plenty of amazing designers producing stunning ranges of Something New while staying true to ethical, sustainable values.
Emma-Jane Christie makes Aboutphaedra dresses one at a time in her home studio. Her process is responsible, respectful and slow and her pieces exude artful femininity with the development of new texture at the core of Emma’s unique process.
Lenka Couture are known for being Australia’s first ethical Clothing Australia accredited label. The gowns are all about simplicity and elegance with substance and attract brides who love great designs, individuality and sustainability.
Lost In Paris is an ethical fashion label specialising in made-to-measure wedding gowns that each have a story to sell. Environmental sustainability lies at the heart of their business, with gowns hand crafted from antique lace, unearthed from antique stores and markets across Europe. They restore and refashion this lace in their gowns with gentle footprint.
These are just a few examples of the wonderful designers and creators working toward a more positive future with their output. For specific advice to suit your needs and location, don’t hesitate to get in touch, I have a little green book just brimming with recommendations for the eco-luxe bride.
As ever, I advocate the selection of natural, organic fibres, produced with minimal environmental impact.
Another direction well-worthy of consideration is that of Something Borrowed.
Grooms parties have been hiring suits for years now, and we woman are finally able to share in this opportunity. The ‘rent-a-dress’ trend is steadily on the rise so eco-conscious brides everywhere can consider hiring as a valid and extremely sustainable option.
Untold carry a broad array of beautiful pieces, suitable for wedding wear, engagement celebrations and even bridesmaid attire. With the option to try on pieces before committing and very affordable hire fees- this forward thinking business is certainly worth a look.
Similarly, Sydney-based formal wear rental service Glam Corner offer a variety of dresses to suit many tastes and occasions. They aim to introduce smaller designers to a larger market, while emphasising the importance of environmental sustainability.
Already have your dream dress? No problem! It’s so important to remember that sustainable decision making doesn’t end when the honeymoon begins.
One of the biggest goals for me as a wedding designer, is to eliminate unnecessary, one-time use. This applies with fashion as much as everything else.
Pearl Button wedding dresses are designed with a re-use focus. They use clever design to overcome the one-time wear issue associated with dresses; designing pieces that can be easily modified with hem shortening or dying, for example. They also specialise in layering and separates, allowing brides the option of changing their look on the day without the need for a second dress as well as the option to re-wear separates for years to come.
As I mentioned previously, on-selling your dress to perpetuate the second hand cycle is simple, sustainable and infinitely practical. An alternative, beautifully generous option though, is to donate your dress. Angel Gowns Australia is a nationally registered not‐for-profit charity that specialises in supplying angel gown garments to families that have lost babies. Donated wedding dresses are reworked by volunteers into burial outfits for grieving families to bury their children in.
Ensuring your dress is well-crafted from organic fibres will make it more suitable for re-use in any form, just another reason to keep this in mind when selecting your gown.
An experienced wedding planner will guide you through choices like these with ease and efficiency. An experienced sustainable wedding planner will make sure your decisions make you feel fantastic!
If you are unsure about whether or not to enlist a wedding planner to assist with the design of your big day, why not book a consultation? They’re usually complimentary, mine are, and give yourself the opportunity to explore your wedding goals and the best ways of achieving them.
Happy hunting ladies xxx