Ballpark estimate: $400 to $2,000+
These days, weddings are big business, and they can have a big impact on the environment, too. But if you shy away from commercialism and want your big day to be a reflection of your relationship without taking a toll on the planet in the process, you might want to consider selecting an eco-friendly bridal gown.
No Need to Settle for Less
Just because you’re getting married it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your values. Therefore, if taking care of the planet is a priority to you, incorporating this focus into your wedding gown selection may be a great way to make the day even more meaningful. Better yet, if you’re worried that selecting an eco-friendly wedding gown requires giving up your dream of walking down the aisle in an elegant white embellished wedding gown with a long train billowing out behind you, you may be pleased to know today, a wealth of fashionable —and environmentally conscious—choices do exist.
In the past, many brides did associate eco-friendly gowns with those hand-made made from burlap, toilet paper, and other sustainable materials that were practical yet not as fashionable. In fact, many eco-friendly gowns of past generations resembled a burlap sack more than a gown worthy of the Red Carpet. But recently, this has all changed. Eco-friendly gowns are now taking front and center stage and brides no longer have to settle for less than they want in order to stay true to their goals.
The reality is that in today’s increasingly environmentally conscious world, organic cottons can be spun into silk and other elegant fabrics worthy of a bride who wants to shine. Hemp and bamboo can also be used in fresh and exciting ways. In addition, vintage clothing and jewelry elements can be upcycled into custom detailing on an eco-friendly hand-made gown that can satisfy even the most extravagant taste.
Some popular eco-friendly designers today use beading, lace, bows, flowers, and other accents that can make a responsible bridal gown stand out in a great way. Eco-friendly gowns even made a showing in a recent article in Vogue, where fashion experts affirm the fact that it can indeed be stylish to care for the planet and make a positive impact on the world when you exchange your vows.
How to Find
To find an eco-friendly gown (which usually means a gown that is made from natural or organic fabrics, and is not treated by bleach to get the white shades typical in traditional gowns), you can do a search online, or visit bridal boutiques and high-end department stores with wedding salons in your area and find out if they carry any eco-friendly lines. Some of the designers that are known for their work in creating environmentally conscious gowns include Nicole Lenzen, Adele Wechsler Eco Couture, and Natural Bridal. You can also check Etsy for hand-made bridal gowns that are environmentally conscious. Or, visit vintage shops and second-hand stores for pre-worn options that won’t have an impact on the environment. Another choice is to borrow a wedding dress from a family member or friend.
With a vintage or used gown, you may be able to have it remade for your shape and specifications to create a truly custom fit and effect without having to use new materials. (Note that if you must have a used dress cleaned, just be sure to select spot cleaning or other cleaning methods that will take less of a toll on the environmental than traditional dry cleaning if you want to minimize your footprint.)
Further, if sustainability is important to you and you cringe at the idea of a gown that you can only wear on your wedding day, then you may prefer a simple dress that you can wear again to other occasions. (Or at least plan to pass it down to other brides or to donate it.) This takes the waste out of the equation. If you prefer a long, formal gown, you can also plan to have it cut into a shorter dress so that you can wear it for other events.
Weighing the Options
When it comes to cost for an environmentally friendly wedding gown, often a used or vintage dress will be the most economical option. (Of course if you select a designer gown, this can jack up the price a great deal.) Buying a modest eco-friendly dress off-the-rack will be the next most reasonable choice, while having an elaborate gown custom made or buying one online or in a bridal salon will be on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Cost for an Eco-Friendly Wedding Gown
The price to buy a used or vintage wedding gown may start at about $400 and go on up from there (although if you buy a non-traditional dress instead of a traditional bridal gown, you can probably find something for considerably less). You can also hire a local seamstress to create a simple dress for about $600 or less, often with the cost of materials included.
You can also find a very simple eco-friendly wedding dress for about $800 and up from an online bridal shop or on Etsy, while a sustainable wedding gown with more elegant detailing from a bridal salon or department store may range from $1,200 to $2,000 and even much more. A custom-made gown that incorporates elaborate frills, hand-beading, and lace accents will also cost you on the high end of the scale or even much, much more.
Further, if having an eco-friendly gown is important to you, you may want to also shop for environmentally conscious fabrics for your wedding party dresses, as well.
A Rental Option
One other option for brides who want to go green is to consider renting a bridal gown instead of buying one. This can be a great way to get a traditional gown without creating unnecessary waste. The cost for wedding gown rentals starts at about $400. If you do decide to go this route, be sure to find out if you are required to clean the gown, which can cost about $100 more and can also require the use of chemicals, which can negate the purpose of the rental. In addition, be sure to ask if you can alter the rental gown, since you’ll want to be sure you get a perfect fit.