This post is the second in a series about fair trade weddings. Check out the first post about ethical wedding dresses.
The bride’s dress is undoubtedly the sartorial focal point of any wedding, but she’s not the only gal who gets gussied up for the big day. Bridesmaids often have specific dresses, jewelry and even shoes, presenting a host of options for ethical outfitting. And don’t forget that members of the wedding party are traditionally given gifts as well. Let’s explore some ways to incorporate fair trade values into bridesmaids’ gear.
The most ethical option for bridesmaids’ dresses is to have the ladies wear something they already own. The benefits are multiple: there’s no stress of finding a style that looks good on everyone, it eliminates one of the major expenses of being a bridesmaid, and it’s reusing and recycling at its most basic! Take a look inside each maid’s closet and see if they have dresses that coordinate with each other. Thankfully the trend nowadays leans much more toward an eclectic ensemble than identical taffeta uniforms—take advantage by having bridesmaids wear sundresses with varying floral patterns, or even different colors altogether.
If the maids’ existing dresses aren’t an option, Mata Traders has a lot of fun styles that would work well for bridesmaids. People Tree’s dresses are both wedding-appropriate and cutely trendy. (They have their fall dresses out now, but visit their sale section for summer wedding inspiration.) And if more traditional matching dresses are your thing, try Olivia Luca for custom dresses made out of fair trade fabric.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re having bridesmaids purchase new dresses is re-wear potential. Are your friends going to have occasion to wear a shiny, floor-length gown again? If not, try to choose a style that will have a longer, more useful life. A wedding doesn’t have to be a warrant for disposable fashion—any of the styles shown above would work just as well for attending a wedding as a guest or sipping cocktails at a fundraiser.
For shoes, the first choice again should be shoes the ladies already own. If new shoes are a necessity, go American-made with Oka B. or American Apparel, or benefit women in Uganda with Sseko sandals.
A traditional gift for bridesmaids is jewelry for them to wear during the ceremony. This is one way to bring some cohesion to the group if each woman is wearing a unique dress, or you can personalize the gift to the style of each individual bridesmaid. There are tons of sources for beautiful fair trade jewelry. Here are items from some of my favorite shops that would work well for bridesmaids:
What do you think about non-matching bridesmaids? Have you ever gotten stuck with a bridesmaid’s dress you’ll never wear again? Share in the comments!