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Low-waste weddings and formal events: Start with what you'll wear

Weddings and formal events are a lot of fun, but they inevitably generate a good amount of waste. One waste you should consider when planning or attending these types of events is the waste resulting from what you wear. Textiles—clothing, accessories, drapes and bedding—are the fastest growing waste stream in the US, accounting for about 16.2 million tons of the waste generated per year. Textile waste has grown 71% in 15 years, and most of it is trashed. Consumers are buying more clothing and getting rid of it quicker due to low prices and rapidly changing fashion. While wedding attire and formalwear are purchased less frequently than other clothing items due to their cost, they are typically only worn once, expending resources and generating waste for one-time use. Buying used or renting are great ways to reduce your impact when choosing a wedding attire or formalwear.

Buying used

There are a lot of options for buying used wedding dresses and formalwear. If you have the time, love the thrill of the hunt and are looking for a bargain, start as early as possible and check the local thrift and consignment clothing stores. You’ll find lots of options in the Choose to Reuse directory under the ‘clothing’ category. Or, if you prefer to only make one stop to find what you need, there are several local used, vintage and consignment stores that specialize in wedding gowns and formal wear. These can be found in the Choose to Reuse directory under the ‘formalwear, gowns and wedding’ category. There are also lots of online marketplaces that specialize in used and vintage wedding attire and formalwear, such as Once Wed, Still White, and Etsy.


Renting your wedding attire or formalwear has a lot of benefits – you don’t need to clean or care for it afterwards, it doesn’t require storage space and it’s usually much more affordable than buying new. Check the Choose to Reuse directory for local options under the ‘rent’ and ‘formalwear, gowns and wedding’ category. Many online rental options exist as well, providing the luxury of renting an item from the comfort of home. Online rental sites include Borrowing Magnolia, Vow to be Chic, and Rent the Runway.


Finally, don’t forget about the accessories – shoes, jewelry, veils and more can all be found used or rented as well at many of the places referenced above.