Tip of the Day – Eco-Friendly Weddings: The Dress

Posted on May 8, 2008 by Allie


“So, what does your dress look like?” is one of the first questions people ask when they find out you’re getting married. Your wedding dress may be white, but it can still be green.

  • Look for a dress made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo or hemp. Here are a few places to start looking:
  • Purchase eco-friendly fabric (like a hemp/silk blend) and work with a local seamstress to create your dream dress.
  • Look for a vintage dress. Have it fitted or updated to make it perfect. I came across this blog, and thought the creativity and recycling that went into creating a 1920′s themed wedding was wonderful.
  • Borrow a dress from a friend or wear a family heirloom. If you’re getting a dress dry cleaned, make sure to hang it to air out (CAREFULLY) so you aren’t inhaling dry cleaning fumes on your wedding day.
  • If your wedding is informal, consider buying a dress you can wear again. A simple white sun dress or skirt and top could get use way beyond your wedding day.
  • Don’t forget to go eco-friendly when it comes to your bridesmaid’s dresses. And please, pick a dress they can reuse. One of my friends had us all pick our own dresses as long as they were black. The dress I bought got years of use, and everyone looked good in their dresses. Buying a bridesmaid dress that will only be worn once isn’t eco-friendly.
  • If your wedding vision doesn’t include bridesmaid dresses that are reusable, after the wedding, consider asking your wedding party to donate their dresses to an organization that gives free prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them.


  1. As a professional custom seamstress and alterationist, I just want to say *thank you* for plugging working with a local business to create your wedding dress! :) While you may not get your dream dress for less than it would cost in a boutique (depending on the materials and design, of course), it *will* fit you without further alterations, and you know exactly what kind of working conditions it is being made under. (You also don’t have to deal with the “What’s Hot Now!!!” malarky if your tastes are more eccentric or antique or funky or what-have-you…)

    I’d also like to point out that historically, for MOST people, the wedding dress was not a one time wear garment — too much time and effort went into making garments back in the day when material was hand-loomed and clothing was hand sewn. Most women wore the best dress they had, or if they could afford it, they made/had one made which they then wore as their best dress after the wedding. They picked “serviceable, practical” colors most of the time, depending on their wealth/social status. Even after a white wedding dress became very popular, there were places that would offer a relatively plain skirt with two bodices — one very ornate and one plainer, that would be suitable for later wear. I’d love to see modern brides embrace that tradition!

    OK, done rambling now. See? I’m putting my Historian Hat away… ;)

    Good stuff on this blog — I’ll be coming back regularly!!

    Laurie Olson Williams, in Minneapolis

    May 8th, 2008 at 8:06 pm
    Comment by Laurie
  2. When and if I ever get married, I plan on wearing my moms wedding dress, but I’m going to get it altered quite a bit. For one thing, my mom was way thinner than I’ll ever be, and another, I don’t like the style of the dress (hello 1983!). But the fabric is totally reusable, and it will make her ever so happy if I wear the dress, even if its not in the exact same form it was in when she wears it.
    I was planning on having my bridesmaids pick their own dresses too, but I didn’t think about the donation thing. I’ll bet that you could do that with the groomsmen’s getups too.
    Although, I bought a fancy bridesmaid dress for my sisters wedding a few years ago. I have reused it by wearing it to the military ball every year I’ve gone. Of course, I just had a baby and can no longer fit into it. Maybe I should donate it!

    May 8th, 2008 at 9:36 pm
    Comment by Jessica
  3. We got married over 30 years ago. I think we had a green wedding before it was fashionable! My dress was borrowed from a friend who married a few months before me. She made her dress out of white cotton dotted swiss. It was simple and lovely. My mom made the wedding meal–and friends helped out with simple homemade sweet breads. We will never forget the meal. It was so tasty and good. Looking back I wonder how she did it! The cake wasn’t organic, but it was good and it was simple.

    May 16th, 2008 at 1:36 pm
    Comment by Julie
  4. Laurie! Thank you for the history — that’s really interesting!

    Jessica — I love the idea of updating your mom’s dress!

    Julie — That sounds like a beautiful wedding! I had a dress made out of white cotton dotted swiss when I was a kid. It’s beautiful fabric.

    May 16th, 2008 at 2:27 pm
    Comment by Allie
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Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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