How to source a sustainable wedding dress

Every year we see more and more eco-friendly couples looking for sustainable options, locally sourced, second-hand items and thinking of hiring before buying. And believe it or not a wedding dress can also be environmentally friendly. If you are considering the idea of having an eco-friendly gown, here’s some advice on how to source a sustainable wedding dress. 

The good news is that eco-friendly weddings are currently on the rise! Fourteen percent of couples in Easy Weddings’ latest seasonal wedding survey reported having eco-friendly elements at their 2019 spring wedding, compared to 9% of couples who featured these elements during the 2019 winter season. And your wedding dress is another great way to walk down the ‘green’ path.

Consider a pre-loved dress 

According to fashion website Lyst, there has been a 93% increase in views of pre-loved wedding dresses between 2018 and 2019, with a 42% increase for terms such as “vintage” or “second hand” every year.

Purchasing a pre-loved wedding dress is not only better for the planet; delaying that once-treasured gown from ending up in landfill, there are immediate benefits for you:

  • Saves you money – a pre-loved wedding gown costs less than a brand-new one.
  • Designer gowns are usually sold at more affordable prices.
  • You can sell it again and make some money back, while extending the gown’s life and purpose for someone else.

Consider renting a dress

Lucky for us, the constant growth of the ‘sustainability market’ translates into more options to choose from; we can find more clothing swap platforms, formal wear rental, etc. and that makes even easier to rent an item such as a wedding dress.

Consider a locally sourced dress

sustainable wedding dress

Photo courtesy of Caroline Sada Photography / See Real Wedding.

If you really want to have your dream custom-made wedding dress, consider locally sourcing it. I’m sure that you can find a designer in your community that can help you with this matter.
Why local is more sustainable? Buying locally reduces CO2 emissions and packaging while enhancing local economy (which is always good). If you choose this option, consider avoiding environmentally unfriendly fabrics such as cotton, synthetics (polyester, nylon and acrylic) and animal-derived materials.


Yes, we said cotton! Even though it is a natural fibre that can biodegrade, conventional cotton comes from one of the most environmentally demanding crops. It takes around 10,000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans and 2,700 litres to make a t-shirt!
A better cotton to use is organic cotton which aims to eliminate pesticides and harmful chemicals, but to go one better, recycled cotton is most sustainable – helping to keep old clothes (and wedding dresses!) out of landfill.

Synthetics (polyester, nylon and acrylic)

Even though plastic-based fibres don’t require agricultural land and use less water in production and processing, they have a negative impact to the environment in many different ways.
Not only are synthetics non biodegradable, they rely on petrochemicals for their raw material which means they depend on fossil fuel extraction. And it doesn’t stop there! Every time you wash a polyester garment it releases microfibres into the water polluting waterways and damaging marine life and ecosystems.
So if you’re keen on your wedding dress being your ‘something new’, seek out sustainable materials like organic hemp, organic linen, recycled cotton or some of the newer innovations in textiles like Tencel.

Consider repurposing your dress after the wedding

sustainable wedding dress

Photos courtesy of Joe Josland Photography / See Real Wedding.

If you have chosen to have a  traditional wedding dress, consider extending it’s life well beyond the big day! And we’re not talking about a trash the dress sesh, the option is to re-use it in a different way. Like tailoring it into something less formal that you can use for other occasions, using the fabric to make something completely different (soft furnishings for example), lending it to another bride or, as we mentioned before, selling it after your big day. 

Ready to get a pre-loved wedding dress? Click here! 

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