Ethical wedding gowns

If Mother Earth will be the guest of honor at your wedding, you’ve probably already got a dog-eared copy of Green Weddings That Don’t Cost the Earth or Organic Weddings on your nightstand. You’ve arranged to serve a vegan, locally-grown feast at your reception, and you’ve decided on elephant dung paper and soy ink for your invitations.

But do you have your gown? You may want to think about avoiding one or more of the following things: sweatshop labor, boiled silkworms, synthetic fabrics, or waste. Don’t assume that you have to walk down the aisle in a shapeless recycled hemp sack to stay true to your values — there are plenty of fabulous cruelty-free and eco-friendly choices out there for those who want them!


Using environmentally friendly, SBP (sustainable/biodegradable product) hemp fabrics, Conscious Clothing creates fantastic gowns. This dress has princess seams in the front and back, with a little bit of riffle under the front hem and three dramatic ruffles cascading in the back.


Julia Smith’s full-length panel dress (which goes by the name of Claire) is made to order with ethically sourced bamboo and silk or hemp and silk.


This gown falls into the cruelty-free catagory. Gaiahouse uses pure, organically grown, vegetarian organic silks known as “Peace silks” because the silk worm is not killed during the production process.


Mentioned here before, Chris Kole of The Cotton Bride creates dresses from all natural, beautiful cottons and linens.

Another option open to green-minded brides is the second hand dress option — wearing a gown that has already been worn once or more has much less of an environmental impact than having something new made. If you’re superstitious, however, the next best thing is to have a dress created for you using recycled fabric. Making a new gown from the fabric of an heirloom gown is a great way to pay homage to your loved ones without having to adopt their style.

Now we want to know: How important has ‘being green’ been to you when choosing clothing, edibles, and stuff for your wedding?

10 Responses to “Ethical wedding gowns”

  1. De says:

    Oh MY. The Cotton Bride dresses are so gorgeous! :O

    Alas, I don’t think I will ever be able to justify much less afford a gown that STARTS at $1800. Boo.

  2. You’re not alone by any means, De. One low-end Cotton Bride gown costs as much as both of my and The Beard’s wedding bands…and we wear those every day!

  3. La BellaDonna says:

    I’m mixed about the fate of Bombyx Mori, meeting an end in a pot of boiling water to provide reeled silk. HOWEVER … the adult form of Bombyx Mori has no mouth! It can’t eat in its adult form, nor fly – it only breeds, and then dies. However, it eats like a crazed thing in its larval form, and it’s generally hand-fed by humans, at that – protected from loud noises and unpleasant odors (perspiration, fish, meat, etc.), and it has been this way for millennia. I reckon that, in the end, Bombyx Mori is paying the check for its dinner. It’s as domesticated a creature as one can get. If you’re not above dealing with other domesticated creatures, then domestic silk shouldn’t be a problem, either, as it is a renewable resource.

  4. Fascinating stuff, La BellaDonna — I just relayed that to The Beard who said, “Now I don’t feel so bad about silk.” We’re weenie ethical vegetarians (going so far as to trap spiders and such, so our usual dealings with domestic creatures usually involve carefully sources eggs and milk) but I certainly don’t begrudge anyone else their silks, and I won’t say no to vintage second-hand silk!

    But now that I know that Bombyx Mori is set to croak anyway, my silk aversion is wavering…

  5. La BellaDonna says:

    NtB, while you are pondering and wavering, I can recommend to you spun silk, as opposed to reeled silk. Reeled silk comes off those boiled/steamed/moth-intact cocoons, in those long long long long lengths, but spun silk is spun like any other fiber – it’s short lengths that have been put together in the same way that short bits of cotton, short bits of wool, short bits of linen are put together to make a yarn that can be woven or knitted. Spun silk is made up of waste bits of fiber, but also from the broken threads that result when the moth hatches and escapes (and mates. and dies). There are other silk moths that do just that, regularly, including certain wild silks. Silk noil, which is often called “raw silk” (but really isn’t), is a spun silk. It’s not flat and shiny, it’s rather nubbly, but it offers a lot of the comfort of reeled silks – holds color beautifully, takes dyes superbly, washes easily, is great to sleep in or lounge around in, and is great to pack or travel in. It’s comfy in the summer and insulates in the winter. You might pick up a few yards at to sew with – it’s available in ivory and black, and the most expensive version is the black/cut yard, at $5.25 a yard, 45 inches wide – cheaper than denim! Just preshrink it, press it, and make it up in drawstring trousers, blouses, nighties, maternity outfits, and you’ll have safe silk to ponder in!

    My own personal feeling is that everything pays a price for living; I try to make sure it’s a fair price, in my dealings. Regarding domestic animals – yes, they work for us, and some of them end up on the table, but it’s part of the domestic contract – they get food and shelter and other care that they need during their lifetimes, and this is their payment for that care. I don’t consider it unfair, or wasteful; everything dies, including us – and then we can feed the worms, the grass, and the flowers ourselves. My concern is that these creatures with whom we have the domestic contract be treated properly while they are alive, with wholesome food and decent treatment.

  6. La BellaDonna: Oh boy, new fabrics to research…and sheepishly admit later to buying on the sly. I’m surprised at how inexpensive it is — the prices I’ve found so far are less expensive than most of the cottons I buy! I’ve honestly never even considered using any kind of silk in my own sewing because I just assumed it would have to be very expensive, no matter what sort it was. Silly me!

  7. La BellaDonna says:

    Another thing to ponder, NtB, is using ethical cotton. Cotton is one of the most damaging-to-soil crops that can be grown, partly due to the way it sucks the nutrients out of the soil, but a great deal more having to do with the amount of pesticide that’s needed to keep it weevil-free. The runoff goes into the local water, and it’s bad for animals, people, and the land. And once the cotton goes to be processed and bleached, there’s another whole layer of chemicals which are called into play … and wind up in the water. And if the cotton grows up to be blue-jean-denim fabric, as the vast majority of it does – more chemicals, with the dye runoff going, once again, into the water. There are ethical and organic cottons out there – some of the cottons grow in colours – and I believe Kathleen Fasanella at mentions some of the sources. In many ways, silk may be a more ethical choice than cotton – even at the cost of Bombyx Mori in a pot.

  8. It’s never simple, is it, La BellaDonna? But I do try to learn a bit every day. I’m fascinated by the thought of cotton growing in colors! I found a very interesting article about the history of colored cotton here:

  9. Ninjarina says:

    I’d like to add onto what La BellaDonna has said about ethical cotton. In Uzbekistan, cotton-picking is done exclusively by women and children. It may be in part due to idealised Soviet visions of happy rural proletariats toiling in the fields but even after the collapse of the USSR, this sort of backbreaking chore remains reserved solely to women and children.

    The compound ethical dilemma comes from the fact that cotton is being promoted in places like Afghanistan as an alternative crop to the more lucrative heroin poppy. I don’t know if the harvesting of cotton is gendered as it is in Uzbekistan but if it is, it’s very much being stuck between a rock and a hard place.