October 20, 2021
3.1. Rita colson
3.3. Indiebride London
3.4. Gemma Leakey
3.5. Ivy and Gold Bridal
3.6. Rolling in Roses
3.7. Mother Of Pearl
3.8. Mia Sylvia
3.9. Sabina Motasem
3.10. Miller White
With the constant rise of awareness about environmental issues and of brides-to-be wishing to make a more socially conscious and sustainable choice for their wedding, trying to plan an eco-friendly, sustainable day has been getting more and more of a (very positive!) trend over the last year. There has also been an ever growing rise of wedding suppliers becoming more aware of their own way of working in a rather wasteful industry, who have been putting in place greener and more sustainable practices to run their businesses.
We ourselves have been trying to help the industry take a more eco-friendly direction by launching an eco-network of wedding suppliers. We have created a place where couples can easily browse through sustainable businesses, where they will find all the help they need to take greener choices and use planning resources without spending ages online trying to gather all the information themselves. To know all about it, check out Benni Carol’s Eco-Wedding Network.
Before we dig into today’s main topic, let’s just quickly have a look at a more general question: What is a sustainable wedding?
As in most things, there is a lot of misconception around the idea of planning a wedding in a more conscious way. People often associate the terms “eco-friendly” and “ethical” either with “cheap” - as in “it will look sloppy and not as good” - or quite the opposite with “expensive” - as in “since everything is handmade, organic and locally sourced, it will cost me a fortune!”. Well, guess what? A sustainable wedding doesn’t have to be either of those things, it can look amazingly gorgeous and at the same time it doesn't have to cost you a fortune.
There are so many factors that make a wedding ethical and green.
To have a deeper insight on the topic, you can browse through our 13 Tips To Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding and you can watch two interviews we had on the topic with the eco-friendly wedding planner Catherine at All Things Considered:
For the sake of today’s article, we will list below 3 effective, easy and totally free things you should try to focus on if planning a socially conscious day is one of your wishes:
→ Focus on Experiences and Meaning rather than Stuff
→ Focus on Quality rather than Quantity
→ Be mindful and ask your suppliers as many questions as possible (eg. do they have sustainable measures in place? Where do they source their goods? Are they local?..)
Nowadays choosing a more mindful way of living our life is really becoming a critical choice to make. Remember, as we always like to remind ourselves, you don’t have to do it perfectly (in fact, we are far from doing it perfectly!). And this is absolutely true when it comes to weddings too! Starting a new path with a more conscious approach will make a huge difference already, over time you will become more knowledgeable, you will know where to find the right resources and you will have made that switch in your mind that will guide you towards a greener direction!
And now, let’s jump into our main topic: sustainable wedding dresses. What is an ethical wedding dress and where can you find it?
Let’s say that the idea of taking a greener path is intriguing you and you start wondering which options you might have when it comes to your look. Wonderful, so you want to start browsing for ethical wedding dresses options.. But, do you even know what to look for? What makes a wedding dress sustainable and which features should you be focusing on if you wish to go for one?
The first thing you should know straight away is that an eco-friendly and ethical dress is so many different things. If you are starting to question yourself on what makes a wedding dress a “low impact” dress, consider that there are many factors you should keep in mind. For example, a vintage, second hand dress could be a sustainable option, as well as renting your dress or purchasing it from a supplier that has sustainable measures in place. A gown made from recycled materials, organic and fair-trade certified fabrics, vegan fabrics or locally sourced fabrics, could be a sustainable option too!
As in most things, navigating through new waters is not always easy and this is when we try to offer our help!
Let’s see how..
If you are new to our blog, you probably won’t know that we have a golden rule: Borrow it, Make it, Hire it. We try to apply this rule to most aspects of our everyday life and we are trying to suggest ways to generally apply this rule to different aspects of a wedding too.
Let’s see together how we could apply our golden rule to your wedding dress research.
There are different designers around the UK who offer the possibility to take a pre-loved dress and give it a new fresh life! One of our amazing eco-network suppliers, for example, offers exactly this service (amongst so many other incredible services). She offers the possibility to rework on vintage and pre-loved dresses, give them a contemporary new design, but at the same time keep the unique story connected to that very dress. Find out more about Madeline at The Sustainable Bride.
Here are just a couple of options of wedding dress designers in the UK that will make your dress from scratch and have sustainable and ethical measures in place:
One of our real brides wearing a re-worked, pre-loved dress. The dress belonged to her mother.
Another very valuable and low impact option is definitely to buy a second hand dress. Now, when you think “second hand”, don’t think cheap or used or again sloppy and not exciting at all!
The market has evolved so much with an ever growing awareness, that now second hand options are nothing less than “first hand” ones! In fact, we dare say, they are even more! If you choose to go for a pre-loved or vintage dress not only will you save your wallet, but of course needless to say, the planet too!
And always remember, a series of designers now offer the possibility to work and revamp used bridal wear!
So, where can you find second hand and sample wedding dresses in the UK?
Fun Fact: Carol found her wedding dress in Portobello Road Market, in Notting Hill in London, with Benni while casually walking past the little window of a local shop! The little boutique shop had ONE wedding dress and it was a sample of a Jenny Peckham gown, Carol’s exact size. Wondering how much it was? £150!!
It was of course a no-brainer, it got purchased straight away, altered (for £70) by a local London tailor and pulled off a few months later!!
Here's Carol's second hand dress!
Now that you have a clearer idea of what to look for when you start researching for ethical and eco-friendly wedding dresses, let’s see a few designers and boutiques in the UK where you can shop for some really gorgeous pieces.
Here’s our TOP 10 list:
We proudly feature Rita Colson as one of Benni Carol’s Eco-Network suppliers. Based in West London and inspired by her love for dance, music and art, Rita uses elegant vintage pieces and silk to create unique ethical dresses. She offers two main services: a Couture Service and a Bespoke Service.
Couture Service: you can choose one dress from Rita's collection and add your personal taste and touch by personalising it with the features you like most. If you are interested in this service, you should try to book a consultation 4-8 months from the wedding day.
Bespoke Service: this is the service you would choose if you wanted to create a dress from scratch. Do you have a dream dress in mind and are you looking for a designer that can make it for you? Then this is the service you should be looking at. To make a unique piece from scratch with Rita Colson it usually takes 6 to 12 months.
Rita Colson’s website: www.ritacolson.com
Another dear supplier that we proudly feature in our network, The Sustainable Bride is a wedding dress designer based in North London.
Her approach to wedding dress designing focuses on three main aspects: Bespoke. Reworked. Found. We recently had a lovely interview with Madeline, the face behind the business. To know all about her exceptional approach and work, you can re-watch the interview at this link: A chat with Madeline at The Sustainable Bride
Spoiler alert! In the interview we talk about a fully vegan (yes, vegan!!) dress Madeline is designing for a bride getting married in Southern Italy!
The Sustainable Bride Website: www.thesustainablebride.co.uk
If you are looking for a bohemian and vintage style dress, then Indiebride London could really be the place you should look at. Everything at Indiebride London is handmade and designed in an ethical and conscious way in London. They do not hold any dresses in stock, which means that every single dress they make will be so personal and unique.
To know all about Indiebride London’s beautiful bohemian ethical dresses, check out their website!
Indiebride London Website: www.indiebridelondon.co.uk
Based in Tewkesbury, Worcestershire, Gemma Leakey creates made to order wedding dresses that she designs in her studio. To make her beautiful gowns, Gemma only uses sustainable fabrics that she sources locally. She offers both the possibility to order unique and made to order dresses, as well as collections.
Gemma Leaky Website: www.gemmaleakey.com
A Benni Carol’s Eco-Network supplier, Ivy & Gold Bridal offers a collection of stunning sample dresses that Pippa (the face behind the business) gathers exclusively from sustainable British designers. She has a large collection of unique and modern pieces, with a price range that goes from £50 to £900. She stocks dresses in 8-14 size.
Ivy & Gold Bridal Website: www.ivyandgoldbridal.co.uk
Rolling In Roses is a wonderful indie label based in York. At Rolling In Roses they pride themselves to offer a very inclusive service, where anyone will feel comfortable and beautiful when wearing their unique pieces.
All the dresses are made to order and each one of them is 100% handmade by an artisan who puts a huge amount of care, passion and experience in each piece they work on.
Fun Fact: 'Rolling In Roses' is the title of a poem by Patty Smith, an artist we ADORE that has inspired most of our early photography work when we were both living in London!
The spirit of this 360 degree artist reflects Rolling In Roses’ ethos: creating ethical gowns for brides who pride themselves to be independent women, sophisticated and yet offbeat!
Prices start at £1100
Rolling In Roses Website: www.rollinginroses.co.uk
Mother Of Pearl is a womenswear brand that conveys a feel of luxury and authenticity, whose central focus is sustainability. They stock a fully handmade bridal collection called Pearly Whites.
Mother of Pearl Website: www.motherofpearl.co.uk
Mia Sylvia is a stunning designer that creates unique dresses revamping and working on vintage pieces. She offers a wonderful and unique collection of sustainable wedding dresses that she makes by styling and naturally dyeing the gowns. Have a look at her work, it is simply STUNNING.
Mya Silvia Website: www.miasylvia.co.uk
As a multi-award winning label, Sabina Motasem offers a sustainable bridal collection, the Green Collection. It is made in London, using natural, plant-based fabrics. They offer a very vast variety of luxe and modern dresses for elegant and chic brides.
Prices start at £950.
Sabina Motasem Website: www.motasem.co.uk
Last but absolutely not least, Miller White, a gorgeous bridal wear that was created in 2019 by the team of Emma Beaumont. At Miller White they create environmentally conscious dresses, with an elegant and contemporary touch. All of their dresses have been described as fun and easy-to-wear.
The dresses are handmade in the company’s atelier in Cheshire and designed by Emma. The cotton used to create these unique pieces is produced in a small village in India. It then gets transported to the UK, in a Welsh mill. The cloth used to make Miller White’s gowns comes from this cotton, which is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards.
If you shop at Miller White, not only are you investing in practices that keep the air clean and the soil rich, but you are also supporting ChildHope, a charity that ensures children have the safe and happy childhood they all deserve. £10 of every dress sale will support this cause.
Prices start at £850.
Miller White Website - www.millerwhite.co.uk
So here’s the end of the little journey we took into the wonderful world of sustainable wedding dresses. If you are starting to get excited about the idea of planning a more mindful day, feel free to use all the resources we have gathered here below!
Green Wedding Blog: Green Union
Planning Resources & Network of Sustainable Wedding Suppliers: Benni Carol’s Eco-Network
Sustainable Planning Tips and Inspiration: The Eco Weddings Collective
Collective of Ethical Make-up Artist: The Ethical Bride Co.
Wedding Supplier Directory: The Sustainable Wedding Movement
Extra Wedding Resources: The Sustainable Wedding Alliance
We can’t wait to hear from you,
Benni & Carol xx
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