Can you still have a 21st century wedding with single use items, like the dress? How do you plan a sustainable wedding?

Weddings tend to be expensive events. There is an expectation that it is the biggest day of your life and this somehow requires spending more money on one day than you would spend at any other time. Does it change the outcome?

The wedding dress explosion didn’t really begin until after World War 2. Before that the bride tended to wear her ‘best’ dress. After the war, bridal magazines and boutiques emerged and the wedding industry, including the one time wear white dress, arrived.

Like any marketing plan, it became the ‘must have’, then became engrained into society as the new normal. The wedding dress was here to stay. 

Weddings may have been business transactions, family unions or political alliances in the past, but we have moved on from that.

They are still seen as the ultimate symbol of commitment, love and also how our relationships are viewed by the outside world.

The Future of Weddings

So, how to plan a sustainable wedding and move into the 21st century?

Reduce Plastic

We are being encouraged to recycle more as we move towards the circular economy model. Recycling is our future. Reduce your carbon footprint. 

There are already bio-degradable confetti products that have no plastic. This is a great start, with no real impact on the day itself. Next would be to consider the decor. Is it reusable, or is it one time use and throwaway? What about wedding presents? Is there unnecessary plastic packaging? You may only send one gift, but the bride and groom receive them all! 

Wedding Location

One for the bride and groom to consider is the wedding location. Chances are, the couple at least stay in the same location and most likely live together already. Family and friends may not live nearby. Can transportation be shared, to minimise individual car use?

Reducing the carbon footprint is the mantra these days but it isn’t particularly romantic and can be a logistical nightmare. Net zero is not sexy!

The biggest single use item is still the bride and bridesmaid’s dresses. Can recycling or upcycling find its way into the wedding day?

Second Hand Wedding Dress

Bridesmaid’s should be straightforward. Provide a colour palette choice and let them choose their own dress. This is more likely to be reused and not just live in the depths of a wardrobe as a memory to that pink blancmange day. If it is possible to avoid bridezilla moments, then it can be a win-win, without the bridesmaid accepting her fate through gritted teeth.


But what about the bride? We start with white, or maybe ivory, but does it have to be a new dress for a one time use? 

A better option would be a vintage wedding dress. This at least removes the need for new source material and some are extremely poor choices, in terms of eco credentials.

Everything is still made to measure for the bride and you won’t see a loose fitting dress. Could wedding dresses fall under the rental market, like the groom’s attire? Not made to fit, but made to nearly fit? High street ‘nearly fit’ clothes are acceptable on every other day of our lives, why not the wedding day?

Upcycled Wedding Dress 

What about an upcycled wedding dress by taking existing material and forming a new garment? This opens up the possibilities regarding material choice and style. If you think longer term use, you may not be thinking silk, chiffon, organza, decorative jewels and embroidery. These are not practical materials for everyday use, nor regular washing.

Upcycling the wedding dress would provide a unique platform to redesign what was and to create something very different. Using existing fabric would help reduce the environmental impact of water usage and pollution and also reduce the cost!

With everything connected to a wedding being so expensive, why not look to creative ways to save your money. Taking the wedding dress into the sustainable argument will require a huge shift in mindset but it could be the future of the wedding industry.

It is a great time to get on board and be a fashion trailblazer! How to plan a sustainable wedding may be the next wedding industry job!


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