10% of all wedding food ending up in the bin and an average couple’s day creating more carbon emissions than one person produces in an entire year, it’s no wonder that more brides and grooms are looking for ways to curb the environmental impact of their big day. While you might not have the resources to throw a zero-waste event, there are some ways you can easily reduce your wedding’s eco footprint. Case in point: your dress. Worn only once, it’s by default an unsustainable purchase. Beyond that, the bridal industry’s use of resource-intensive materials such as silk means wedding dresses can come loaded with green guilt. "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" goes the adage – but when it comes to dress shopping, something old or something borrowed makes the most sustainable sense. Thanks to the increasing number of eco-minded vintage sellers, secondhand dress suppliers and lending services, this is easier than you might think. If you’re set on buying a new gown, the growing crop of bridal designers working in the sustainable field will likely be able to help. These are our favourite spots for brides looking to make a planet-friendly purchase… Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl
’s Creative Director Amy Powney got engaged back in 2017 she struggled to find something that was modern, relaxed and not classically 'bridal'. Moreover, she couldn’t find a design that fitted her sustainable fashion credentials. Amy set about designing her own dress and Mother of Pearl’s bridal collection was born. Each piece is made to order directly from the brand's atelier to avoid any wastage and the pieces are crafted from organic peace silk, which does not harm the silkworm in the production of the fibres. The company as a whole has a refreshingly eco ethos too: the London studio is run on green energy, they choose compostable packaging and they even offer all staff a vegetarian lunch scheme made with local seasonal produce.
Image via @motherofpearl. More Brides Do Good
London-based bridal shop
is a secondhand dress supplier with a difference: it’s a social enterprise that gives up to two thirds of its proceeds towards projects that help end child marriage. Around the world, 12 million girls are forced into underage marriage every year, and money raised by Brides Do Good has helped young girls in Egypt, Ethiopia, Nepal and more. With a mixture of donated secondhand gowns and end-of-season and sample designer pieces, their Fulham showroom and online store has styles and tastes to suit all soon-to-be brides.
Image via @brides_do_good. More
lost in paris
Image via @lostinparisbridal. More Still White
Considering most wedding dresses are worn for fewer than 12 hours, buying a secondhand piece is not
different from getting something brand new. If you’re on the hunt for a pre-worn dress,
is a great starting point. The largest resale site for bridal dresses, they have a huge selection of options available to buy directly from former brides. You can save up to 80% on popular brands like
Grace Loves Lace
and Vera Wang while leaving change in your pocket for fit alterations or design tweaks.
Image Courtesy of Still White. More Story continues Real Green Dress
After a long career in museum conservation, Erica Arnold channelled her expertise in restoring dresses and her keen eye for spotting special pieces into launching
Real Green Dress
, a vintage bridal studio with an eco edge. Selling both restored original wedding dresses and unique remodelled gowns using vintage fabrics, each piece is cleaned and restored using the least invasive processes possible in her converted farm in Hampshire, and then packaged in recyclable and reusable packaging. If Erica’s studio is out of reach, you can buy online or see the pieces IRL at a number of wedding fairs across the UK.
Image Courtesy of Real Green Dress. More Pennies Vintage
For the bride wanting a vintage look for their big day, this
treasure trove in north London’s Islington
is a one-stop shop for individual pieces. The carefully curated edit includes vintage wedding dresses, antique lace gowns and original 1920s beaded designs. Beyond clothes, it also has an excellent selection of vintage veils, hair accessories and even bags and shoes to finish your wedding day look.
Image Courtesy of Pennies Vintage. More Reformation
LA brand with more celeb fans than you can shake a stick at
is known for its covetable dresses and on-point eco principles. They’ve been carbon neutral since 2015, are moving towards being entirely zero-waste (they're at 75% at the minute) and stringently choose low-impact fabrics. Taking inspiration from the main collection, the wedding day designs are ideal for a bride looking for an alternative dress with a laid-back feel. Think '90s-inspired slips, relaxed off-the-shoulder jumpsuits or slinky wrap dresses. While shipping from the US isn’t the most planet-friendly, Reformation now has a store in London’s Westbourne Grove which stocks the bridal collection.
Image via @reformation. More Oxfam
might not be the first place that springs to mind when searching for a wedding dress but hear us out. Once you forget the fizz on arrival and forgive the lack of slick editorial photography, you’ll see that the range of donated dresses is pretty impressive. Not only are you doing your bit for the planet but you’re also supporting a charity that’s fighting poverty across the globe and saving yourself some pennies in the process.
Image Courtesy of Oxfam. More Girl Meets Dress
With more of us than ever thinking about how we can reduce our consumption of stuff, circular fashion businesses operating rental models are springing up everywhere.
Girl Meets Dress
, the largest luxury dress hire service with over 4,000 pieces available, has choices aplenty and an extensive bridal section. Offering designer gowns for rent for as little as £50, it’s also a surefire way to save some of that precious budget. Especially when you consider that you could walk down the aisle in Marchesa, Amanda Wakeley or Rixo. If you're eschewing the traditional white gown, there are designer options in loads of other hues, too.
Image Courtesy of Girl Meets Dress. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?