In the UK, the average lifetime for a clothing garment is 2.2 years. The value of unused clothing in wardrobes is £30 billion, with each household’s annual textile footprint the equivalent of driving a car for 6,000 miles and uses an amount of water equal to filling 1,000 bathtubs.
There’s no doubt that with modern weddings finding that “perfect” wedding dress is harder than ever and many want to choose sustainable options too. Advise your guests to also choose sustainable clothing options – encourage them to wear something they already own or buy something second hand rather than new.
In 2018, Marie Claire reported the average wedding dress in the UK cost £1,385 So, if you’re looking to reduce the cost of your big day, the dress is a good place to start!
The most sustainable option is to use something you already own. Most of us don’t already own a fancy ball gown or wedding dress, however consider upcycling your Mum’s? Alternatively, does someone else in the family have a dress which has been sitting in the attic for decades and need a little love? The vintage styles often come back into fashion and it would have great sentimental value.
The second most sustainable option is to rent. Search online for a formal clothing boutique near you that offers rentals. Is the cost of something you will only wear once worth it when you can hire a higher quality designer dress that you’d otherwise be unable to afford? Hurr, Girls Meets Dress and places like Debenhams have great ranges of designer clothing, dresses and mens formal suits for every occasion.
If you desire to buy a dress to keep, can you investigate buying second hand or vintage? A wedding dress is often only worn once, hence second dresses look like new, while being cheaper and more sustainable. In Exeter, the second-hand wedding dress shop La Boutique sells pre-loved dresses and all profits go to a charity that pay for weddings for people with terminal illness. Gumtree, Oxfam, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Bride2Bride offer second hand dresses from designers online.
Tip: Why not try on dresses in your local shop to find your perfect fit and see if you can find the exact or similar dress second hand?
Another sustainable option if you’ve decided to buy “the perfect” dress new is to buy one versatile enough that could be altered and re-worn for years after you tie the knot. View some wedding upcycling inspiration here
Options for choosing sustainable bridesmaid dresses looks very similar to that of choosing a wedding dress (above). The most sustainable option would be choosing something you or your bridesmaids already own. Its trendy to have dresses which don’t match but follow the same colour pallet, so why not try coordinating your wardrobes and see if you can put together dresses of different styles and colours that would work for your wedding? Alternatively, look second hand, vintage or renting. If you do decide to buy new, ensure the dresses can be worn many more times for lots of different occasions.
Set a dress code for your guests, an idea like: “something old, nothing new, something borrowed, something renewed”. Ensure guests feel as though they don’t need to buy something new and help them think about their sustainability choices for the day.