Ethical and green wedding planning

Ethical wedding dress

Green wedding style - dress to impress

Here comes the bride, all dressed in... what? What to wear?

All eyes will be on you, so you're probably looking for something a bit special but you're also thinking about the ethical and green credentials of your outfit too.

Tricky! So what are your options?

The charitable bride

Why not take a look at the range of wedding dresses in your local charity shop. Some even have entire branches dedicated to wedding dresses, many of which are shop seconds rather than second hand.

And if you can't find exactly the right fit, ask a local dressmaker to adjust it for you.

Win ethical brownie points for reusing and recycling and for supporting a charity. You can even donate the dress back again when you've finished with it! 

Take a browse around the UK's charity shops with dedicated bridal departments. 

Vintage bride

In the same reusing and recycling vein, cast your eye over the swathes of gorgeous vintage wedding dresses that are flooding the stores online and in style-conscious streets and feel like a bride from a more romantic era. 


If you're having your wedding outfit made just for you, whether it's your mum making it, a friend, or a dressmaker, consider ways in which you might be able to wear it again after the wedding, perhaps by opting for a two piece, a trouser suit, or a dress that can be adjusted or dyed. If you ask your dressmaker nicely, they might include this as part of the service!

Think also about how you can minimise damage to the environment in your choice of fabric - thanks to innovations in the fashion industry your options are increasing rapidly from organic cottons, to bamboo-based textiles, to vegetarian silk.

Some of our designers and dressmakers also offer a recycle / reuse option by taking two or more old dresses, perhaps your mum's or your grandmother's, and combining them to create a stylish new and completely unique wedding dress. 

Support a student

Ethical and eco-fashion is a growing concern among the undergraduates in the fashion colleges. Seek out a student and test their creative powers to fashion you a totally unique wedding dress from eco-friendly fabrics.

Off the peg

More and more online stores are offering ready-to-wear fabulous fair trade dresses and designer eco-wear, with US sites in particular extending this to the wedding market, although the UK is beginning to follow suit as you will see among our selection of suppliers.

If you're heading for the high street, check The Good Shopping Guide, the bi-monthly publication Ethical Consumer, and website Labour Behind the Label to find out which retailers are doing the most to make fashion fair. 

Something borrowed

Maybe the dress of your dreams is closer than you think. Before you start out on the great dress hunt, see if friends or family have a dress hiding at the back of the closet that might do the job perfectly, especially for a more informal wedding or if money is tight. You never know until you ask!

And don't forget, you can always hire a dress just as you can a suit.  If you are only going to wear it the once, why not? 

Suited and booted

If dresses aren't your thing, take a tip from the green grooms and think about getting a smart suit that you'll be able to wear time and time again.  Or jeans and t-shirt, bikini and shorts, whatever you feel comfortable in! 

Wedding lingerie

Everyone will tell you how important the right lingerie is to show you at your very best in your wedding attire. And now just for the ethical bride designers are developing ranges using sustainable fabrics such as hemp and organic cotton as well as making pretty knickers out of old ugly dresses! 


Accessories, as every self-respecting fashionista knows, can make all the difference to an outfit. What they might not know is that they are also an excellent way to make a difference in someone's life.

The fair trade market is full to the brim with beautiful, handcrafted items from necklaces to bracelets, brooches to hair clips, to transform your wedding attire while transforming the lives of workers in the developing world being paid a fair wage for their skills.

Don't forget those closer to home either. Check out the work of local jewellers and crafts people for unique bespoke wedding items such as tiaras using recycled metals and stones.

Our selection of suppliers has some stunning examples of fair trade and artisan accessories.

Of course, your wedding accessories could always be your "something borrowed"... 

Fancy footwear

When you are choosing your wedding shoes, please make sure they are comfy or you have a pair of trainers to change into later in the day. Your feet will thank you for it!

To be ethical but stylish, try some of the bespoke vegan footwear stepping up to the mark. For men, the range of vegetarian and vegan formal footwear is wider and easier. 

The bridesmaids

If you're having bridesmaids, invariably, the best option is to get them to choose their own wedding outfits. If you have a colour theme, ask them to choose their outfit in that colour but in a shape that suits their figure; if a dressmaker is making them, give them a say in the design.

You can point them towards vintage shops, fair trade options or charity shops but above all, try to find something they will wear again - or that they can sell on ebay! 

Green groom

For the groom, your wedding could be your chance to invest in a stylish, tailor-made suit to last you for the rest of your life - what could be more sustainable than that? Even better choose a suit for life made from old suits as some designers are now doing. Throw on a fair trade organic shirt and accessorise with fair trade cuff links and tie.

The other obvious wedding choice is to hire which has the beauty of recycling while being cost effective and hassle-free.

Although what we're waiting for is a suit hire company using organic or recycled fabrics, donating its profits to charity, or employing young people with no visible prospects as apprentices a la Jamie's Kitchen...if you know a company who is, or you're thinking of doing it, tell us about it!

Alternatively, you may already have the perfect suit - in which case why waste good money and fabric on another?

But don't feel you have to have a suit for your wedding. Part of Ethical Weddings is about not being restricted by convention and tradition so if you want to walk up the aisle in a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, go for it - as long as your partner agrees of course (we're not that crazy!).

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