Since I recently obtained my certification as a green wedding professional, I thought I would highlight eco-friendly dresses and where to find them. I had the pleasure of speaking with Marcelia Muehlke, owner of Celia-Grace, recently and learned a lot about wedding dresses, eco-friendly fabrics, and how to secure a wedding dress utilizing fair trade practices. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Kimberly: How often do you have new dress designs and accessories?
Marcie: Celia Grace creates a new collection of wedding dresses each year. New designs are based on wedding and fashion trends, new fabrics we have found and can’t wait to share, and that romantic feel we just love.
Kimberly: Can you “update” an older wedding dress?
Marcie: There are some beautiful vintage dresses out there, or maybe you have and love your mother or grandmother’s dress (lucky you!). Unfortunately, many vintage dresses are in very small sizes so they can be a challenge to alter or update since it is much easier to take a dress in rather than let it out.
Kimberly: It seems like a lot of companies are trying to be eco-sensitive. How do you minimize your environmental footprint?
Marcie: While most wedding dresses are made from highly polluting petroleum based polyester, Celia Grace uses natural silk woven on a no-electricity loom. We minimize use of chemicals by coloring fabric with safe, non-toxic dyes when needed. Much of our silk is hand woven, meaning it uses very little water and energy to make. Finally, we do our best to use silk local to where our dresses are produced to minimize shipping.
Kimberly: I understand that Celia-Grace donates water filters, do they go to the families of the seamstresses or other countries/communities?
Marcie: This year all our water filters are being donated in Cambodia. Some will go to the families of our seamstresses or silk makers and some will be given to other local families in need.
Kimberly: For my clients with a smaller budget who would like an eco-friendly dress, do you have less expensive options and/or do you have a yearly sale?
Marcie: We try to offer dresses at a range of prices to make them available to as many brides as possible. Don’t hesitate to call and ask about prices! We also have an annual sample sale which is a great time to get a real bargain on a gorgeous dress.
Kimberly: Is Celia-Grace planning to expand to other areas of the world with similar socio-economic needs and access to different raw materials?
Marcie: Yes! We are very excited to expand to other countries so we can help more women around the world and so we can add to the beautiful silks and laces we use.
Kimberly: How can a bride continue to support Celia-Grace’s entrepreneurial development and clean water efforts past their wedding day?
Marcie: We absolutely LOVE it when brides share pictures with us after their big day! Brides who wear Celia Grace are beautiful inside and out and I can’t get enough of seeing them so happy. Brides can also submit their photos to wedding blogs which is a great way to help get the word out about Celia Grace. In terms of clean water efforts – start at home! – and consider spot-cleaning your dress rather than dry cleaning it (which uses tons of chemicals).
Kimberly: Do you think you’ll ever have a trunk show in Raleigh or Charlotte?
Marcie: I hope so! This spring our dresses visited bridal boutiques in seven cities around the US for trunk shows. We didn’t make it to the Raleigh/Charlotte area but hope to this fall or winter. Know a great shop you’d recommend? Let us know!
Check out Celia-Grace:)
Web URL: http://www.celia-grace.com
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/CeliaGraceWeddingDresses
Pinterest URL: http://www.pinterest.com/celiagracedress
Head shot by Sleaque Images
Photography by Loveridge Photography