Green wedding attire

Lucky you! There are plenty of options for finding earth friendly attire for your wedding day.

There are two basic approaches to choosing wedding apparel in harmony with the earth. One is to select new garments made of eco-friendly fabrics, home-sewn or constructed in sweatshop-free factories. The other is to choose beautifully unique items that have been previously worn.

For new wedding garments think natural fibers! Silk, hemp, linen, organic cotton, and wool - in their natural colors, tinted with nontoxic dyes, or lightened without chlorine - are all good choices. Avoid petroleum-based synthetics such as polyester.

What do you do if you find a great gown in an earth-friendly fabric, but you can't be sure about the working conditions where it was made? Online resources such as Sweatshop Watch and the Responsible Shopper can help you pinpoint companies with questionable employment practices. Or sew it yourself or hire someone in your area to create the gown of your dreams.

You may also choose wedding garments that have already been lovingly worn. This approach uses products that were previously manufactured, so new resources are not exploited. The most nostalgic means of reuse is the handing down of a wedding gown from a previous generation. To wear your mother's or grandmother's wedding dress is the ultimate in family tradition - if it works out. If the size is right and the style is acceptable, it's a meaningful affirmation of the strength of family ties. You might also consider borrowing wedding attire from other family members and friends.

There are lots of other sources for high quality previously worn bridal wear. Many of them are shops operated by charity organizations, so you can be sure that your purchases are going further to benefit worthy causes. Second hand and thrift stores are a great resource for gently worn formal wear, and searching can be a tremendous adventure. If you have the time to hunt them down, one-of-a-kind treasures abound at remarkably low prices. If you don't have a lot of time to look around, check out antique and vintage shops in your area that carry clothing and accessories. These may be a bit pricier, but they may also offer some exceptional items that you will not find anywhere else. If you're short on funds and need some help yourself, many communities have programs that loan out formal wear for special occasions.

For men's formal wear, reuse is very common through the practice of tuxedo rentals. Be sure to ask about the rental company's dry cleaning practices. Many have onsite facilities, but smaller companies may send garments out for cleaning. If your rental firm can't confirm that they use nontoxic, environmentally friendly cleaning solvents, ask for a discount if you have garments cleaned at an eco-friendly establishment before returning.