So, What Is an Ethical Wedding Dress Anyway?

If you’re an eco-friendly or sustainable loving newlywed, you might be thinking of rocking an ethnical wedding dress on your big day. Since the average dress costs about $1,300 and that 97% of our clothing are manufactured overseas, it can seem hard to find any bridal designers that hit all of the right marks.

Not even sure what an ethical dress is? These gowns are produced under fair trade and safe labor conditions and often use or incorporate sustainable materials. From fabrics to production, these five tips will help guide you on the dress search.

A photo posted by @celiagraceweddingdresses on

1. Look for eco-friendly fabrics.

Clothing is the second most polluting industry in the world and most wedding dresses are made from petroleum-based polyester, so look for a dress made from natural fibers like silk. You can also consider re-using a gown from a family member or friend, or buy a vintage dress or rent your big day outfit.

2. Search for locally-made dresses.

The garment factory collapse a few years ago in Bangladesh reminds us just how bad work conditions can be in clothing factories overseas. You can opt to work with a local seamstress or choose a dress made where work conditions will be safe and fair (like in the US, Canada, or Europe).

3. Research fair trade big day designers.

Have you heard of fair trade coffee or chocolate? Clothing and even wedding dresses are now available. They offer safe, fair, and empowering work conditions to help women and families in developing countries. No child labor or sweatshops here!

4. Depending on your lifestyle, you might want vegan or cruelty-free options.

While most dresses already fit this description, don’t forget that furs, feathers, pearls, wool, and silk are all animal products.

5. You can snag some serious savings, too.

Since many ethical wedding dresses are made locally and by smaller companies they have lower shipping and business overhead costs. They often spend less on advertising and pass those savings on to you, if you do a little extra work to find them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a vendor!

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