How to Find Your Ethical Dream Dress

Woman sitting in a room wearing a wedding dress

There are an endless amount of wedding dresses out there in the world, but only a select few bridal gowns are ethical. Not all designers have sustainable options, and even those who solely create eco-friendly dresses might have a limited selection.

To find a dress that matches your style, budget, and values follow this guide for different ideas and sources.

Decide What You Want

Woman in wedding dress

When you start looking for the perfect wedding dress, you must understand your vision. Sketch some ideas out or take pictures of dresses you like from the Internet or magazines. Think of the different styles—ball gown, A-line, sheath, mini—and which ones you want to don on your big day.

Once you have an idea in your head, you can start looking at the type of dress you want, considering your budget and the material. You can choose from a new, traditional, affordable, or sustainable gown, but not all four.

Traditional wedding dresses are often more expensive than modern ones because they are typically ornate with layers of material. An ethical dress is created by workers who are fairly paid to bead and sew the material, making it sustainable but costly when compared to those made in sweatshops. Finally, new dresses will always be more expensive than secondhand ones.

If you are looking for a completely new, sustainable, and traditional dress, then you will need to acknowledge that in your budget. However, if you wouldn’t mind a used or more modern wedding dress, then there are many options to choose from.

Buy an Ethical Dress From a Conventional Salon

Woman in wedding dress

While you will be likely to find what you are looking for with this method, it can come with a price. This is the most expensive option expressly because you will know where each swatch of fabric or sequin is coming from and who put it there. Be specific with what you want. Do you want your dress made in the U.S., Europe, Canada, where there are strong labor laws or do you want to risk a child worker hand beading your fabric in Taiwan? Don’t be afraid to ask where the décor, lace, and fabrics were made, so you can guarantee that you are buying an ethical wedding dress.

Seek Out a Sustainable Designer

Woman with white dress
Odessa Bustled Linen Wedding Skirt

This is probably the easiest way to find an ethical dress, but can also be difficult, as not all boutiques will carry these products. Explore dresses hand made out of silk like Leanne Marshall’s line or eco-conscious fabrics created by Deborah Lindquist. Again, a new dress will always be more expensive, though there is no price tag on being sustainable to the environment and those creating your gown.

Buy a White Dress

bride with white wedding dress facing back

Who’s to say a white dress can’t be a wedding dress? If you aren’t that fussed about visiting a bridal salon, then check out some designers who create beautiful white gowns you can wear instead. Check out Rent the Runway for a smaller price tag on stunning full-length gowns or white party dresses. They also have a selection of wedding dresses you can rent as well.

Rent or Buy, and Go Vintage

Girl wearing white wedding dress with pearl necklace and holding white flowers

If you are looking to buy a sustainable wedding dress, then renting or buying used is a great option. Reuse an old dress instead of creating a new one with new resources. It’s an eco-friendly option… Why spend a lot of money on a dress you’ll only wear once, like a wedding dress? Rent or buy unique vintage dresses at a fraction of the cost. Sites like Nearly Newlywed or Borrowing Magnolia specialize in renting or selling used and sample dresses.

Eco-friendly Wedding Dress Designers

a lady wearing green dress

Explore some of the ethical and eco-friendly wedding dresses and designers we’ve included above. Picture what you want, then choose sustainable dresses. Pop into a wedding salon or even a consignment shop to see if you find a dress that you love. Not all beautiful gowns come new from a high-end shop and you can be surprised at what you find.

Rebecca B. Lawrence

About Rebecca B. Lawrence

Rebbeca has been writing about weddings, jewelry, and fashion for years. Her favorite place to hang out, aside from this website, is Pinterest. She loves Art Deco Jewelry, beach-themed weddings, and anything related to the British Royal Family.