Recycled, reused, and 2-in-1 wedding dresses

David's BridalAs many a bride-to-be has said before me, I never thought I’d be the kind of girl who gets obsessed over wedding dresses. But yet, already, I Can’t. Stop. Looking.

I look online; I look in magazines; I look at friends-of-friends’ weddings on Facebook to see what they’re wearing. I’ve even started watching “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons — a show I’d seen exactly five minutes of before I got engaged.

I’m also very aware, however, of how much my dream dress could cost — and that it’s not so green to buy something new, wear it once, and  put it in a closet for my kids to maybe wear one day. (Or, more realistically, for my kids to politely decline when they see how different wedding dress styles were back in my day. Sorry, Mom!) So, I’m weighing a few other options.

Buying used
Before I hit the bridal boutiques and resign to shelling out much of my budget on a brand-new gown, I’m hoping to find one secondhand. I’ve started checking three websites —,, and — almost daily. These sites connect brides selling dresses (and almost everything else wedding related) to potential buyers; the seller decides on shipping arrangements and return policy.

I’ve already had one heartbreak: an absolutely gorgeous dress, my size and price range, sold before I had a chance to contact the seller. But I’ve got time on my side, with more than a year until my wedding, so hopefully another one will come along, and I’ll just happen to be browsing online at the right time (i.e. all of the time).

Buying reusable
In terms of new dresses, though — because Mom insists we’ve got to do the whole dress shopping thing at least once — something I really love is the idea of a 2-in-1 convertible dress. David’s Bridal has two new ones out, pictured above, and they’re both pretty cute!

I haven’t seen these dresses in person and don’t even know what they’re made of, but simply the idea of 2-in-1 is greener than what some women are doing now — buying one dress for the ceremony and another “party dress” for the reception. With these you can just unzip and you’ve got a shorter, sexier dress in which you can dance the night away. Perhaps you could even wear it again as a cocktail dress!

And speaking of dresses, did anyone catch Livia Firth’s dress at the Oscars? Colin’s wife looked absolutely stunning in a gorgeous gown that was made from several vintage thrift-shop finds and documented on Vogue’s Green Style Blog. Not a wedding dress exactly, and certainly not within my budget, but brilliant inspiration, nonetheless!

[Photo: David’s Bridal]

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About Amanda MacMillan

Amanda MacMillan is a health and environmental writer whose work has appeared in Prevention, Health, Whole Living, and National Geographic's The Green Guide. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently chronicling the process of planning her wedding while making sustainable, healthy, and budget-friendly choices on her blog, Lean Green Bride.

  • Betsy (Eco-novice)

    I applaud your efforts to have a green wedding. Not a time when most people are worrying about the environment. My friend made my dress, so I guess at least the labor was local. I do wish I’d had her make something that could be, at least in part, repurposed into something wearable more often. I also had my friend make my bridesmaids’ dresses, and I let them pick the design (length of skirt, A-line/pencil, cap sleeve/ sleeveless, and so on) in the hopes that they would be able to use it again.

    What about renting? Isn’t that an option?

  • amanda macmillan

    Thanks Betsy! I’ve been keeping my eye out for rentable wedding dresses as well, and haven’t found much, at least in terms of traditional wedding gowns — maybe because they typically need to be altered and tailored, and then you will likely get them dirty on the day of? But I’m still looking!

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