The Second-Hand Wedding Dress, and Other Eco-Friendly Wedding Choices

Want to have a meaningful wedding that doesn’t cater to the multi-billion-dollar wedding industry? Want to have a personalized wedding that celebrates your love as well as the ethical standards that guide your life? Want to wear and decorate with and eat and share only things you love, and that love the Earth?

I think you should!

An eco-friendly wedding is worth the effort that it takes to dodge all of the fast fashions and wasted resources that it’s so easy to settle for when planning such an important–and stressful!–event. Utilizing fast fashion and wasting resources are deceptively easy, and planning a wedding is so deceptively hard that you might find yourself getting sucked into making anti-environmental choices just as a default, or because you’re diverting so much mental energy into so many outlets.

And that’s okay! You’re not the one responsible for an industry that preys on stress and emotions to increase its profit margin. You alone can’t close the loop in the production of wedding-related goods. It is NOT on you to plan the perfect wedding, most magical day of your life, super fun guest experience, ultimate zero waste event, and every single other thing that appears on the wish list of you and everyone else you know.

Buuuut… Every eco-friendly wedding choice that you make is a great step towards sustainability. It’s a good choice for YOU because it flows with how you want to live. It’s a good choice for your guests because it illustrates to them how environmental sustainability can work. And it’s always a good choice to show the wedding industry that their most toxic consumerist propaganda isn’t a selling point.

Start small, if you’d like, or go big, if that’s what you’re into. But first, check out some of Crafting a Green World’s favorite ways to upcycle, refashion, DIY, thrift, and otherwise make eco-friendly wedding choices.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Fashions

wedding

What better display of community and celebration of love is there than the giving and sharing of one’s beloved wedding dress? Shared Dream Dresses is a Facebook group that connects people wishing to pass along their used wedding dresses to those looking for their own dream dresses. When you’ve worn that beautiful secondhand dream dress, pass it on again!

If you’d rather your wedding dress be something new, then consider that yes, you can DIY your wedding dress! And if you follow any of these free wedding dress patterns and tutorials, you can even save your budget to splash out in another area.

And don’t forget heirloom, vintage, consignment, or rental dresses as a way to go zero-waste.

Wedding rings and wedding bands are another place where a sustainable choice can also mean a more personal, meaningful choice. Aaaaand they’re often more affordable, too!

Accessories can be a lot easier and more accessible to DIY, especially if you use natural materials. Go green with flower crowns and corsages for your wedding party!

Decorations

wedding welcome sign

Signage is super important, but so ephemeral! Instead of plastic-coated single-use signage, consider these DIY versions that use sustainable resources and can often be repurposed afterwards.

When in doubt, use a chalkboard!

Upcycling your wedding decor is a net good, because not only do you get the decor you need, but you also divert formerly unwanted products from the waste stream.

Choosing flowers can be a surprisingly fraught experience–local or imported? Organic or sprayed? In-season or exotic? Sub out at least some of that fretting with one of these eco-friendly flower options.

If you’re having a fall wedding, skip the flowers altogether. Pinecones are nature’s favorite craft supply!

Gifts and Favors

DIY Wedding Ideas

In my opinion, the best party favors are the ones that guests can completely use up, like these seed bombs.

DIY favors of all kinds can be really special–especially if you have a crew of DIY helpers!

If you don’t have the time or inclination to DIY a billion little party favors, turn to someone who does. Support a maker on Etsy or a local indie crafter.. and pass on their business info to your guests, too!

What to do for the final toss if you’re not going to do rice or confetti? Try one of these ideas, instead.

Or just make your confetti biodegradable!

Post-Wedding Upcycling

Vintage Wedding Dress Pendant from Little Red Window
DIY Vintage Wedding Dress Pendant from Little Red Window

Even if you buy new, and even if your purchase wasn’t the most eco-friendly, you can always make a choice more sustainable via reusing, repurposing, or upcycling.

Don’t want to pass your wedding dress on to another wearer? Keep it close, keep it special, and keep it in circulation with one or more of these wedding dress crafts.

Here are some sweet ways to upcycle those thoughtful, beautiful wedding cards you received.

And okay, one more way to upcycle wedding cards, because this one is my favorite!

Do you have a tip for making more eco-friendly wedding choices, or a way that you made your own wedding more sustainable? Tell us about it in the Comments!

Avatar photo

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

2-Liter Plastic Bottle Hanging Planters

Leaning into the Discomfort, Part Three: 20 Ways to Upcycle 2-Liter Plastic Bottles

Fast Fashion kill das klima via Stefan Muller CC2.0

Why Shein Sucks, and What You Should Wear Instead