When a woman dreams of her wedding gown, her thoughts often drift to couture confections. Names like Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera dance in her head. But what if you could have the perfect dress and also keep your eco-conscience in tact? What if you knew the dress you're wearing gave work to skilled artisans in low income countries, helped cure disease, and was made with dyes and fabrics that minimized your carbon footprint? Or what if you could obtain a stunning dress that's already been shown or worn, giving you peace of mind that you're not adding an ounce of waste into the atmosphere?
Sounds almost too good to be true. And yet, there are scores of designers and boutiques who are making and selling these types of dresses. Thousands of ethical brides have already sought them out, using their personal fashion sense to pick a gown along with their interest in bringing about earth-friendly lifestyles and choices. Read on to find six places you can scope out to find your perfect dress for your perfect day.
Based in Canada, this designer sells her gowns in boutiques from Brooklyn to San Francisco. She has two lines that speak to your eco heart. The Hello Africa Collection provides hand beading done by Zulu artists and infuses wooden beads, shells and other organic elements. Adele pays Fair Trade rates and is proud to provide work to women they can do at home while taking care of their children. She also makes the Eco Couture Collection, produced in Canada using Fair Trade guidelines. You won't believe these gowns are made with vegetable dyes, remnant pieces of fabric and hemp silk.
See looks at Adele Wechsler
The Bridal Garden
With its beautiful showroom in Manhattan, the bridal garden doesn't skimp on giving brides the traditional shopping experience. But it's not a bridal boutique. It's actually a non-profit organization whose proceeds go to foster education for disadvantaged kids. The gowns they sell are donated by designers and boutiques, which means they sell them to you at a pretty steep discount. They sell some of the biggest names in bridal design, including Vera Wang. They offer brand new dresses (donated samples) as well as gently worn dresses, giving new meaning to the term upcycling.
Check out the goods here: The Bridal Garden
Brides for a Cause
These days, perhaps one of the best ways to keep your dress carbon footprint low is to wear a gown that's been worn before. Brides for a Cause receives and sells donated gowns with half the proceeds going to the charity "Wish Upon A Wedding." This organization provides weddings and renewal vows for those that have terminal illnesses or other life-altering situations. Now that's a bonus most vintage boutiques can't offer.
See more here: Brides for a Cause
This designer is dedicated to creating new garments in the most eco-friendly ways possible, not only for the sake of the planet's resources, but for giving work to rural areas under Fair Trade conditions. Her website is comprehensive in explaining how the gowns are produced—which we love. From hand-woven fabrics created on no-electricity looms to minimizing water, energy and toxic chemicals wherever possible, these dresses are as beautiful as they are full of heartfelt sustainability.
Mill Crest Vintage
There is just something too romantic about walking down the aisle in a gown that would have done Audrey Hepburn proud. While some of us may have family members we can score a vintage dress from, the rest of us are out of luck. Or are we? Mill Crest Vintage dresses are from the 19th and early 20th centuries. One look at its homepage and any woman who loves classic style will be swooning. It also happens to have a selection of vintage cocktail dresses that any mother-of-the-bride would look gorgeous in.
Mill Crest Vintage
Okay, let's face it, some of us want a big name attached to our gown. When it comes to eco wedding dress design, Minna is about as big as it gets. She's been featured in Vogue, Harper's Baazar, Elle and Brides. And she offers the full suite, a one-stop-shop that includes flower girls and bridesmaid dresses too. She terms her work Eco Luxe—nice. Everything is made locally, by hand, uses no-waste cutting techniques and with organic fabrics.