A few weeks back, the awesome, talented, and inspirational, Marcie, co-founder of Celia Grace (America’s first ethical, giveback, Fair Trade wedding dress collection) stopped by to share her easy ideas for a giveback wedding (if you haven't read her post, you've simply got to check it out now!)

And today she has returned, to share her insightful guide to ethical wedding dresses.

So many brands are creating chic, elegant, beautiful gowns that are made locally, cruelty free, Fair Trade, or sustainably sourced, but it can be hard to know your upcycled heirloom from your peace silk.

So to help you navigate the waters of what ‘ethical' really means, take it away Marcie…

Ethical Wedding Dress | Celia Grace | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Celia Grace, Photo by Dear Stacey

Buying a wedding dress is a big investment – in terms of time, emotion, and money. Couples in the US spend about $4 billion a year on wedding dresses and 98% of our clothing is made overseas.

Imagine the good we could do if just a fraction of those dollars were spent on ethical wedding gowns rather than conventional ones.

But wait – what is an “ethical” wedding dress? For better or for worse, there is no one answer to that question.

Here are a few ways to think about it so you can decide for yourself:

An ethical wedding dress can mean an eco friendly frock

Ethical Wedding Dresses | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress from Daughters of Simone Vintage Collection.

Did you know that clothing production is the second most polluting industry in the world?

Given this fact, one way to define an ethical wedding dress is as eco friendly. Most wedding dresses are made with petroleum-based polyester fabric. Don't be fooled by words like chiffon or satin, they can be silk or polyester!

If you want to go green with your wedding dress you can re-use a dress (an heirloom, vintage, used, rental, or re-made gown) or find a new one made with eco fabrics (recycled, up-cycled, organic, vintage, or natural fabrics that don't require toxic chemicals or dyes).

There are even some traditionally-made hand woven silks that are made the same way they've been made for centuries – these fabrics preserve a traditional art form and minimize environmental impact.

An ethical wedding dress can mean a locally-made dress

Locally Sourced Wedding Dress | Belle & Bunty | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Belle & Bunty (Made in London)

Recent garment factory tragedies remind us of just how bad work conditions can be for people making clothing in developing countries.

While 98% of our clothing is made overseas, there is probably a dressmaker living right around the corner from you. Ask around for a recommendation and you might even be able to design your dress with a local seamstress.

Or look for a wedding dress brand that is made in North America or Europe where there are strong health, safety, and pay regulations for workers.

An ethical wedding dress can mean a Fair Trade or “giveback” gown

Ethical Wedding Dress | Celia Grace | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Celia Grace, Photo by Matoli Keely Photography via Style Me Pretty

One way to respond to poor work conditions overseas is to try to bring those jobs back home and buy locally-made goods.

Unfortunately, not everyone can or will do this so we can also help improve work conditions – and lives – in poor countries by choosing a wedding dress that is Fair Trade or ethically-made overseas.

Look for brands that share the stories of their dressmakers and have third-party recognition for their Fair Trade practices. You have probably heard of Fair Trade coffee or chocolate but there are all sorts of Fair Trade products available now from gold to garments to grains.

An ethical wedding dress can mean a vegan or cruelty-free dress

Cruelty-Free Wedding Dress | Bridal Musings WEdding Blog

Dress by Tammam (Cruelty-Free)

Although most dresses are by default vegan and cruelty-free, don't forget that furs, feathers, pearls, wool, and silk are all animal products.

“Peace Silk” is made from silk threads harvested after the silk worm has left its cocoon, unharmed.

Now you decide.

Celia Grace | Ethical Wedding Dress | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Celia GracePhoto by Andrea Hanks Photography

“Ethical” means different things to different people in the realm of wedding dresses and beyond.

I hope this quick intro to the different ways you can think about it is helpful – so you can decide what ethical means to you.

There are so many great ethical wedding dress options out there – exquisite dresses will make you feel as beautiful as you look – inside and out.

Celia Grace | Ethical Wedding Dress | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Celia GracePhoto by Andrea Hanks Photography

Lots to think about, right? I guess it's about deciding which aspects are important to you, and finding a wedding dress collection that aligns with your own ideas.

The good news is, choosing an ethical wedding dress no longer means sacrificing on the aesthetics!

Thanks once again to Marcie for sharing her wisdom with us. Visit the Celia Grace website to take a closer look at their beautiful Fair Trade wedding dress collection.

Get more ideas for your own Ethical Wedding