Photo: Courtesy of Minna
Whatever size the wedding — large or small — brides are feeling fortunate and want to give back. What better way than with that chunk of change you're going to drop on your wedding dress? "Happily, brides don't have to compromise on style or quality to wear a wedding gown that gives back," says Marcie Muehlke, founder of Celia Grace, just one of the many designers and organizations with charitable causes at their heart.
"Just imagine how much more special, exquisite, and joyful that wedding day would be if the bride's wedding dress not only looked stunning but also helped other women around the world," Muehlke says. Yes, the Celia Grace gowns are gorgeous — they are made using vintage-inspired lace and hand woven silks from India and Cambodia, but Muehlke points out, "It is how our dresses are made that makes such a big impact." Every material is born in Fair Trade conditions — meaning (among other things) no child labor and safe and equal pay for men and women. Last year, the company donated water filters to local Cambodian families. "Instead of just looking beautiful, a bride can be part of something beautiful on this most meaningful day," adds Muehlke.
"Why not have your dream gown custom made for the same budget and help someone else at the same time?" asks Designer Natalie Daemi. That's the idea behind her namesake bridal collection: Gorgeous bespoke gowns that donate ten percent of the profit to Restore NYC. The organization rescues and houses victims of human trafficking. So not only is Daemi making a bride's dress dreams come true, she's also making a donation on the couple's behalf. Daemi adds, "I think it's a beautiful way to start a marriage..."
In a sun-drenched loft packed with designers like Marchesa and Oscar de la Renta lives both luxury bridal boutique and not-for-profit organization, The Bridal Garden. The two entities co-exist successfully thanks to the designers, stores and brides who donate their gowns. Did we mention dresses are discounted up to 75 percent off?
President Geraldine Brower's goal was to help brides find the perfect gown and to help educate underprivileged children. Today, The Bridal Garden donates all of the proceeds to the Brooklyn Charter School, according to Brower, who is also the founder. "The brides I've worked with want to give back because it's a really positive time in their lives and they want to share that joy with others," says Brower.
A timeless, elegant gown that becomes a family heirloom is the dream for many brides and Founder Minna Hepburn understands that. She was concerned about the wastefulness of fast fashion, so she created Minna. Each dress is manufactured in London using a zero waste policy and materials like organic cotton and local lace, Hepburn says. "We want the buying process to be very easy and without complicated fittings as we sell online around the world," adds Hepburn. Hepburn is also launching a new line this August, Indiebride, which will focus on the gap in the market for bridal dresses you can wear again. The entire line will retail under $1,000 and have only a four-week delivery time.