We are getting close to the end of our Green Wedding Guide, and in case you are just tuning in for the first time right now, we’ve previously covered conflict-free eco-wedding rings, greener wedding locations, more sustainable invitations, gift & registry ideas, and eco wedding gowns. We covered eco bridal gowns already, but we can’t leave the guys out nor the wonderful bridesmaids, so this issue of the Green Wedding Guide explores eco clothing options for men’s and bridal party attire.
Compared to the ladies, men are generally easy to clothe. All they need is a well-fitting suit, snazzy shoes and a sharp tie. Often, men rent their clothes for weddings. Renting suits or tuxes is a highly sustainable option, because they get reused over and over again. So unless the groom already has a great suit, consider renting first. Renting, which is both extremely green and economical, is also a great option for groomsmen.
The second eco-friendliest option is to find a handsome, gently worn pre-owned suit. There are many men’s suits to be found in vintage and consignment shops and remember – slightly larger clothing can be tailored down, but it’s hard to make something smaller larger. Etsy is also not a bad place to find men’s vintage clothing.
Men’s sustainable dress fashion has not moved as quite quickly as women’s fashion has, most likely because men rent their tuxes and suits so frequently these days, but there are still some great options out there:
+ Conscious Clothing has a wonderful and stylish white hemp suit.
+ Nau also has some nice options for a more laid back wedding sans suit.
+ Bagir in the UK makes a line of suits called EcoGIR™ made from 100% recycled Post Consumer PET bottles or organic cotton.
+ Boll Organic is one of the few makers we’ve seen of fine organic cotton men’s dress shirts, and they’re completely affordable.
+ Armani is supposed to have a three-button hemp suit, but you’ll probably have a hard time finding one.
Shopping for bridesmaids dresses is complicated and difficult endeavor and becomes more complicated as the number of bridesmaids increase. Every girl has different tastes, body types and preferences, so it’s incredibly hard to pick ONE dress that everyone can agree on and still fit into your color scheme. And if you also want your bridal party to wear sustainable fabrics, you’ve got yourself a conundrum – J. Crew doesn’t make organic cotton dresses in every color of the rainbow, yet (we hope). Have no fear though, we’ve done our homework and found some options for you.
HAVE BRIDESMAIDS WEAR THEIR OWN DRESSES
The movie 27 Dresses sums up the main problem with bridesmaids dresses – often bridesmaids end up with a tacky dress they’ll never ever wear again. The best thing you can do for your lovely ladies is allow them to wear their own dress, rather than foisting something on them that they wouldn’t have picked out themselves. The second best option is to allow your bridesmaids to pick out their own new dress in a style they prefer. If you are going this route and want your bridesmaids to match, black is the most surefire color (this was what Jill opted for with her bridesmaids). Giving the ladies a color range is also an option. Encourage them to check out second hand and vintage stores as well, they might find a treasure.
IF YOU MUST GET NEW DRESSES – THINK GREEN
If you simply must have perfectly matching bridesmaids, you may want to consider new dresses – in which case consider going DIY. New dresses can be handmade by your local tailor or dressmaker. Use sustainable fabrics, such as hemp, raw silks, or organic cotton, which can be sourced from places like NearSea Naturals, Naturally Modern, or Harmony Art. You can also rent bridesmaid dresses at Alexandria’s Formal Gown Rental. There are also tons of designers on Etsy who would love to make you bridesmaid dresses.
If none of those options appeal to you and you’re looking for a new dress all your ladies can wear, check out the following designers and stores.
+ Allison Parris carries a line of high end eco-couture dresses made from sustainable fabrics.
+ EcoSkin has lots of dresses made from luxury sustainable fabrics, which are also woven, dyed and sewn in the US.
Also, in case you missed it, check out our post on 7 Sustainable Summer Party Dresses that would make perfect bridesmaids dresses.
Like me, Matt didn’t want a new outfit either and opted for a gently used suit from a consignment shop in Salt Lake. We found him a great black suit with this really cool black stitching on the seams. We had it tailored to fit him better, and (swoon!) was he handsome.
Admittedly, finding greener options for men’s shoes, ties and dress shirts was a challenge. We never found any used shoes that fit him or that he liked. Sustainable fabric tie options are limited and especially not in the colors I wanted. Had I thought of it sooner, I would have bought fabric myself and paid someone to make the ties, but alas, there is never enough time, so we had to buy brand new.
Meanwhile our groomsmen ended up either wearing their own black suits or renting a black suit from a tuxedo shop.
I pondered and searched and scoured the internet for bridesmaid dresses that met my criteria: made from sustainable fabrics, less than $100, and a color/style everyone could agree on. It was challenging to say the least. I considered for a time asking everyone to find a vintage dress in any shade of green, which was my unofficial wedding color. But with all my bridesmaids scattered about the country, I felt that forcing my bridesmaids to shop for a vintage green dress with their busy schedules was asking a bit much.
Luckily, I happened upon Econica, an Etsy seller, who had a perfect dress in green, made from bamboo, and was, at the time, less than $100. The dresses were beautiful and incredibly soft and my ladies looked beautiful. Now, I just hope they liked them enough to wear them again!
Since Matt and I were wearing gently-used wedding attire and our bridal party was sustainably-styled, we asked our guests to be environmentally conscious as well. On our wedding website, we asked our guests to consider wearing something already in their closet or from a secondhand store. Since most of our guests had never met before, we figured no should be concerned that someone had seen their outfit before.
At my wedding we tried to keep things real simple and eco-friendly in terms of bridal attire. My husband and his groomsmen all wore suits that they owned, and each donned a green silk tie that my extraordinarily talented dressmaker Nicole handmade for each of them. The ties were made from the same bolt of fabric that the ribbons and my dress were made from – so it was a nice element of matchyness that tied a lot of disparate looks together.
In terms of bridesmaids, I vowed never to be one of those awful bridezillas that insist their bridesmaids spend their own money on godawful lavender taffeta matching gowns that would never be worn again. In fact, I didn’t want my bridesmaids to have to purchase anything, since many of them were already traveling across the country to be in my wedding. So I just asked them to wear their own dresses – so long as those dresses were black. I figure every girl has a black dress. My bridesmaids each looked a little bit different, but I didn’t see anything wrong with that. Who says bridesmaids all have to match each other anyway? They looked happy and comfortable, which is the most important thing in my opinion.