There’s no doubt about it, shopping for a wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of getting married! However, many wedding dresses are made abroad and travel thousands of miles to be worn once – so we thought we’d share with you some ways to make buying a wedding dress more sustainable.
Read more: How to make your wedding eco-friendly
Buying a New Wedding Dress Sustainably
We asked Jenny McCarthy, owner of Frock Goddess, a sustainable wedding dress boutique, what to think about if you want to buy a new wedding dress but in a more environmentally-friendly fashion: “Ask the person you are buying from these two essential questions. If you cannot get the answers (either because the shop doesn’t know or won’t tell you) then there’s a good chance that the dress will not be sustainable or ethically made.”
Who made your wedding dress and where?
“A dress is more likely to be sustainable if it has been made locally, or at least in the same country as it’s being sold,” explains Jenny.
“For example a dress that has been mass produced in China and shipped to the UK is much less likely to be a sustainable and ethical option than a dress made in the UK by a local seamstress or small manufacturer.”
What is it made from?
The fabric your wedding dress is made from has a big impact on how sustainable it is: “Sustainable and ethical fabrics such as bamboo silk; peace silk; and recycled polyester are starting to become more available for bridal gowns,” Jenny reveals.
“Also, brides should look out for dresses that have been made from ‘re-purposed’ fabric – i.e. fabric that has been given a new lease of life that may otherwise have ended up in landfill.”
How elaborate is the design?
“The more lavish your dress is: the more fabric it will use and the less eco-friendly it might be. Therefore, simple clean lines are a good option if you want to be more sustainable.”
What will you do with your dress after the wedding?
One of the least eco-friendly aspects of wedding dresses is that they are only worn once. Jenny offers a solution to this: “After the wedding consider giving your dress a new lease of life. You could either sell it or donate it to someone else.
“Another option is to use the fabric of the dress to make an entirely different item. We’ve seen all sorts of items such as christening dresses for babies; or keepsakes such as cushions or soft bears.”
Read more: Should you rent your wedding dress?
If you can’t bear to let your wedding dress go, why not look into dyeing or altering it so it can be worn again for everyday life? What could be more special than getting to wear your wedding dress again and again!
Is a traditional wedding dress for you?
Another way to make your wedding dress more eco-friendly is to go for an alternative wedding dress that is easy to wear time and time again. Jenny also recommends considering bridal separates: “Another option is to choose separates on your wedding day which can be worn with the rest of your wardrobe after the wedding.”
Bridalwear Brands That Design and Make in the UK
If you’re feeling inspired to make an eco-friendly wedding dress choice, here is a list of some bridalwear brands that produce wedding dresses in the UK – therefore supporting local, homegrown talent and reducing unnecessary airmiles.
British bridalwear brand Sassi Holford handmake their beautiful wedding dresses in England. Designed by Sassi herself, the gowns are crafted by her talented and loyal team in Somerset, including head seamstress Tina who has been working for Sassi for over 25 years.
Wedding dress designer Kate Beaumont started created dresses for brides after her best friend asked her to create a wedding dress for her. It reignited her love for dress making, and now she creates romantic and whimsical gowns from her Sheffield studio.
Kate Edmondson Bridal
If you love vintage style wedding dresses, and the glamour of the 1930s and 40s fashion trends appeals to you, consider Kate Edmondson Bridal. Kate creates couture wedding dresses from her West London atelier and will work with you every step of the way to create your perfect gown.
Julita London was borne from a desire to create bridal gowns that are completely tailored to each unique bride. Designer and owner Jo Kuniewicz-Murray crafts breath-taking bridalwear designed to encapsulate the modern bride – she’s even created a bespoke veil for Rihanna!
Caroline Arthur is the perfect choice for brides who want a custom wedding dress at a more affordable price – a bespoke gown made in the UK starts at £2,500. Or, she will alter or tailor your existing dress to make it unique for you.
Read more: See Leona Lewis’s custom wedding dress here
Favoured by stylish brides and celebrities alike, Phillipa Lepley creates breath-takingly beautiful bridalwear in her Chelsea studio. Each gown is meticulously handcrafted and designed to be feminine, iconic and timeless.
Gaia Bridal is a Welsh bridal brand who previously outsourced the manufacturing of their gowns. But following the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and a desire to work with local talent and have more creative control, they made the eco-friendly switch to crafting and producing dresses in Wales.
Andrea Hawkes is a London-based bridal brand, creating vintage-inspired, timeless dresses in the heart of England’s capital. They work with natural silk, to sure all aspects of the dress are eco-friendly.
Perfect for those seeking out an alternative style of wedding dress, E&W Couture create unusual, unforgettable and even unicorn themed wedding dresses, designed and made in Wales! They also produce bridal separates, which is a great option if you’re looking for eco-friendly bridalwear that can be easily worn again.
Read more: The best wedding suits for brides
If you want a wedding dress with a high-fashion feel, consider Alan Hannah. Designed by Marguerite Hannah, the dresses are handcrafted in the UK and there are a variety of collections to suit different price points. For something really special, consider one of their famous hand-painted gowns.
The Couture Company
The Couture Company is based in Birmingham and creates quirky custom wedding dresses for brides who want something totally different to the mainstream bridal fashion trends. Prices start from £1,000, making them an affordable option for custom couture.
Read more: The best Midlands-based wedding suppliers
Sister Organics create handmade wedding dresses in Devon, crafted from organic and sustainable fabrics. As well as wedding dresses, they also create PJs and robes, so even your getting ready outfit can be eco-friendly!
Indiebride London pride themselves on not following bridal trends, but instead being inspired by their brides when they create their heirloom-quality wedding dresses, which are handmade in London. They are ideal for those who love a romantic, boho look.
Based in Cheltenham, Cocoa Couture has been creating beautiful bridal gowns in the UK since 1970. Their dresses have a dramatic flair, perfect for the bridal who loves the classic couture look.
This is just a small selection of wedding dresses made in the UK – there are so many fabulous British bridal brands designing and creating eco-friendly wedding dresses with UK talent. Ask your bridalwear shop if they stock UK bridal brands for more ideas!
Eco-Friendly Wedding Dresses from Outside the UK
It’s also possible to buy an eco-friendly wedding dress from outside the UK – more and more bridal brands are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the environment and are changing their methods. World-famous bridal brand Pronovias is one such company making big changes.
This year, Pronovias have launched #WeDoEco, a new collection of sustainable wedding dresses – ideal for brides who have dreamed of having the Pronovias experience, but are conscious of their impact on the environment.
They have created 15 dresses that are sustainable in every way, from the zippers to the hangers, under the label of 360º Eco, and a further 24 that are eco-friendly and made up from mostly eco-certified components. Four of the Pronovias brands currently offer eco-friendly wedding dress options, with the remainder of their labels slated to start doing the same in 2021.
Alessandra Rinaudo, Chief Artistic Officer of Pronovias Group, had this to say: “In the #WeDoEco collections, we find marvellous, environmentally responsible propositions for every woman. We want to ensure that brides looking for a sustainable option for their big day are able to find their dream dress without having to compromise, by offering them all the glamour, style and elegance of dresses from the Pronovias Group.”
Sustainability consultant and eco-friendly fashion expert Julie Gilhart, CDO of Tomorrow Consulting, worked closely with the brand on their new range. She said: “Pronovias is not only the leader in the luxury bridal industry but also in seeking to establish lasting sustainability practices. The #WeDoEco initiative means that brides no longer have to sacrifice the luxury factor to be sustainable. What an exciting moment and monumental step for this incredible and powerful brand led by women!”
If you’re inspired to check out more eco-friendly wedding dress options now, make sure you read about designing your own wedding dress.