• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry

organic gown preservation?

Q. I want to keep my gown as an heirloom, but I am worried about traditional gown preservation practices. Is there a more environmentally friendly option?

A. Traditional dry cleaning uses chemicals (including known carcinogens and ground water contaminants) to preserve garments. However, more and more dry cleaners are turning to environmentally friendly practices. Some have begun utilizing liquid carbon dioxide, which is nontoxic, odor-free, and does not create any harmful emissions. Others, notably the GreenEarth Cleaners chain, use nonhazardous liquid silicone to clean and preserve garments (to find one near you, visit GreenEarthCleaning.com). Independent organic dry cleaners are also becoming more and more common -- go online or check your Yellow Pages to try to find one near you.

gown, dress, recycle, eco-friendly, green

Green Weddings: Should You Donate Your Gown?

Photo: Caroline Frost Photography

Get a Not-so-new Gown

Purchase your gown secondhand -- reducing fuels used in creating a new gown and lessening demand for overseas labor. One option is the Brides Against Breast Cancer campaign, run by MakingMemories.org, which hosts trunk shows across the country featuring donated gowns as well as new gowns and samples from designers and bridal salons. Proceeds fulfill wishes for terminal breast cancer patients.

Donate it to Charity

If you aren't planning on saving your dress as an heirloom, donate it to charity after the wedding. You can either give your gown to an organization like Making Memories, or sell it (be it through a consignment shop or online) and give the profits to the charity of your choice.

Consider Couture

There's also the option of having your gown custom made with natural fabric (most likely silk or a silk blend) that you've purchased yourself. If you don't have a seamstress near you (or the cash to afford a gown that's completely custom), Conscious Clothing, based in Santa Fe, NM, creates wedding gowns that range from traditional to trendy, and feature all-natural fabrics (visit GetConscious.com).

Don't Forget the Maids

Ask them to donate their dresses to charities such as The Glass Slipper Project (GlassSlipperProject.org) or the Fairy Godmothers Inc. organization (FairyGodmothersInc.com), both of which work to put dresses in the hands of underprivileged teens who can't afford a prom dress. It's a much better fate for the dresses than sitting in the back of closets -- trust us.

-- The Knot

See More: Green Weddings