Marc Bates


April 13, 2021

Photo of Tara in her 2nd hand vintage wedding dress by Caroline Castigliano

How to make a statement with the most important part of your wedding day.


By Marc Bates


Photo of Tara in her 2nd hand vintage wedding dress by Caroline Castigliano

In 2017 I photographed the waste -free wedding of Tara Button,

Tara is a published author and founder of Buy me once. The company’s purpose is to inspire and encourage consumers to buy longer lasting products.

The wedding which was held at Brocket Hall was designed to be as sustainable as possible.

From the dress to the centre pieces, so much of the day was designed with sustainability in mind. The wedding was featured in the Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine. It was the first time that I saw just how environmentally friendly a wedding could be. There are so many ways to make your wedding sustainable and for inspiration, you should definitely read the article.

I wanted to talk about just one of those ways in this blog and help you choose an eco-friendly wedding dress.

There are so many options and things to consider if you want to say YES to an eco-friendly wedding dress!
I thought we could have a look at some of these today.

Upcycling & Recycled

Upcycling and recycling have always been around in one form or another and there has been an increase in people looking at this as the best option.
Elle magazine wrote about this in 2020. Their research showed that 48% of people were open to wearing a pre-loved (second hand) wedding dress.

The global fashion platform Lyst has also reported on this.  They have seen searches for “vintage” or “second hand” wedding dresses are up 38% year on year.

Most recently HRH Princess Beatrice was married in 2020 and chose to upcycle a dress worn by the Queen.


I found that there are so many options available with charity shops. St Barnabas House wedding boutique in Worthing as well as Oxfam who have a huge range of second-hand dresses on-line and at 12 store locations.

Established wedding dress retailer Rock the Frock opened their RTF Pre-Loved store in 2020. Bridal Reloved which is the world’s only chain of pre-owned wedding dress boutiques, has 17 locations throughout the UK.

We haven’t even got to the online options yet with Still White being the UK’s largest online retailer. They have over 51,000 dresses for sale!

I also discovered that Rock My Wedding has now launched RECYCLE MY WEDDING which has a section for wedding dresses.

And if after all that you just like the idea of renting your wedding dress for the day, my google searches revealed there are plenty of options for that too.



Brand new and bespoke

While doing research for this piece, this was the part that excited me the most. I think because it gave me the most “WOW” moments and I constantly caught myself saying “well I never knew that” out loud.


What I found is that there are multiple ways in which designers are making their dresses more and more eco-friendly, just as consumers purchase based on what factors are most important to them.

I found that several designers created made to measure dresses to avoid wastage, but Mother of Pearl goes further in their efforts. By using organic silk, they ensure the silkworm is not harmed in the process. The dresses are made to order in their studio which is solar powered!

London based brand Indiebride makes all their dresses to order which means low wastage. Any leftover fabric or cut offs are used in the making of accessories, veils and head pieces. Anything not used is donated to students or organisations for use in their own projects.

Pronovias have launched their #wedoeco range and ensure every element of the dress is sustainable. Fabrics are eco-certified; beads and zips are made recycled materials and packaging is recyclable. They are also holding their suppliers accountable by asking them to abide by a code of conduct which protects employee’s wellbeing and rights.

What can I do with my dress when the wedding is over?


A brilliant question and it’s really up to you, but there are a few options. Of course, you can keep it. You may even get to give it to someone in your family which starts the whole cycle off again.

If you want to start the process sooner here is what I found.

You can sell it online or in store and some of the people I have already mentioned will help you with that. Still White or Recycle my wedding for example.

Another way to go is to simply donate to a charitable organisation so that they may resell it.

You can also get in touch with Gift of a wedding who will donate wedding services and items to people who have terminal or life shortening illnesses and want to get married.

This is just one of the charities I am registered with to provide my services free of charge.


The other option is to donate it for another purpose entirely. Tara chose to donate her wedding dress, which was already second hand, to a charity that uses the material to create angel gowns. These are used for the funerals of infants lost through miscarriage, still birth or neonatal death.
I couldn’t think of a more worthwhile cause.


My conclusion

Whatever environmental issues are close to your heart you will definitely find a supplier who can help you.

Having spent the weekend researching this blog, I know from experience how easy it is to find an eco -friendly alternative and make your wedding is as sustainable as possible.
We can all do our part and as a luxury wedding photographer, that includes me. I decided a while ago that I would no longer offer leather covers for my photo albums.  Even though I am a small part of the industry I am always making sure I am a conscientious consumer.

I also announced last year that I would be working in collaboration with the National forest.  For every new wedding client that chooses me as their wedding photographer, I will be planting a tree and dedicate it to them.

Best wedding photographer  
UK wedding awards 2018

Best Wedding Photographer 
The British Wedding Awards 2020

as published in

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