I went to two weddings last month, which naturally left me dreaming about what I want to do for my own (hypothetical) wedding. That includes thinking about how to do everything as ethically as possible. Since I use a certain set of fair trade principles to guide my everyday shopping, I figure it’s even more important to follow them for the biggest, most extravagant party I’ll probably ever throw.
This post is the first in a series about all aspects of a fair trade wedding. We’re starting with arguably the biggest decision every bride has to make: what to wear! Thankfully for the socially-conscious bride-to-be, there are many options for making your wedding dress match your values.
Celia Grace offers wedding dresses that are “hand made by women’s cooperatives, Fair Trade producers, and refugees rebuilding their lives in the United States.” They use natural silk fabrics, mostly hand-woven on traditional looms, and provide safe and fair working conditions to their seamstresses. And they’re a member of the Fair Trade Federation. I kind of want to buy one right now and save it for the future—except I also want to see what new gorgeous designs they come out with in the meantime. Here’s how I would wear their tea length dress:
1: Celia Grace tea length dress
2: Teardrop Pearl Pendant – Ten Thousand Villages
3: Mughal Gems Cuff Bracelet – Ten Thousand Villages
4: Sseko sandals – They’re available in white, but a pop of color would be fun too!
Olivia Luca is a design-your-own custom dress boutique, which you could use for your wedding gown or for bridesmaids dresses. They offer some fair trade or organic fabric options and all dresses are sewn in their design studio in Portland, Ore. They pay living wages and provide a safe, clean work environment.
Conscious Elegance is another option for a custom-made dress. This small sweatshop-free company creates gowns to order using eco-friendly materials.
A used or vintage dress can also be a great solution, giving an old dress a new life. (Plus, that’s your “something old” taken care of!) Tradesy, a large online resale shop, has a wedding section that includes gowns plus accessories and men’s formalwear. Check your local antique mall for wedding dresses, and don’t forget to look close to home—your mom’s or grandmother’s dress might fit perfectly with just a few alterations and updates.
Etsy offers wedding dresses, but search carefully. A lot of the items under “wedding dress” appear to be factory-made imports, so be sure to sift through and find the truly vintage and handmade listings. Alternately, you could have a local seamstress create a handmade dress using sustainable fabric like organic cotton.
Would you consider skipping the traditional wedding dress shop to find an ethical wedding dress? If you’re married, how did you find your dress? Let us know in the comments!