As the wedding industry continues to grow, more and more couples are seeking sustainable alternatives to the stereotypical wedding day excess. In fact, research from The Knot shows that 70% of couples wish to incorporate sustainable or eco-friendly options into their wedding day. 

Shopping secondhand is a key element in planning a sustainable wedding. From boutique wedding consignment stores to everyday thrift shops, you can find gently used items at a low price to help you save money and lower your environmental impact. Keep reading for our top ten items to thrift for a sustainable wedding day. 

Wedding Decor

Magazines and movies always depict weddings with all matching everything — but your wedding doesn’t have to fit the cookie cutter mold! Head to local thrift stores to find unique decorations for your ceremony and reception. 

Flower Vases

Thrift stores are a gold mine for glassware. You can find flower vases of all shapes and sizes to repurpose as centerpieces, candy jars, you name it!

Candle Holders 

Similarly, thrifted candle holders and votives are easy to spot. Don’t worry about finding a matching set; mix and match with different heights and finishes for an elegant but tasteful look. 

For even more sustainability, search the shelves for gently used candles or purchase beeswax, soy-based, or coconut wax candles.

Picture Frames

Engagement photos and family pictures add a sentimental touch to every wedding day. Instead of spending $6-$15 on each individual picture frame, purchase your frames at the thrift shop for $1-$2 each. 

Look for different shapes, colors, and dimensions to add some variety to your tablescape. If you want the frames to match, you can easily paint them to fit your wedding day aesthetic. 


Sometimes you can even find dedicated wedding signs at the thrift store. Look in the holiday, art, or book section to see if they have any decorative signs for your tables, chairs, or venue.

Event Rentals

According to The Knot, event rentals account for 6% of your wedding budget (close to $2,000 based on the average cost of a wedding these days). This includes everything from dishware to tables, chairs, and linens. You can often find these items at the thrift store for much less. 

Linens and Tablecloths

Many thrift stores have a dedicated section for sheets, blankets, and throws. Search the racks for neutral linens that can serve as tablecloths, chair covers, or even your aisle runner. 


Chairs are an important and often overlooked part of your ceremony and reception. While it might seem like a given, not every event rental includes chairs. Look for a larger thrift store or one that specifically sells furniture, like a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, to find chairs. They don’t all have to be the same — a hodgepodge of chairs can add a bohemian element to your event. 


Similarly, not all event rentals include dishware like plates, glasses, and silverware. Thrifted dinner plates and place settings can be a fun, cost-effective addition to your reception. 

Some thrift stores carry sets of matching plates (usually in quantities of six to eight plates). You could collect different sets for each table at your reception, or mix it up and give each person their own unique plate. 

Wedding table greenery
Photo by Jordan Arnold

Bridal Clothing and Accessories

Last but not least, consider thrifting your wedding attire. Thrift stores are filled to the brim with clothing of all styles, sizes, and colors to fit every aesthetic and occasion. 

Wedding Dress

More and more brides are choosing to purchase a secondhand wedding dress — both for financial and environmental reasons. Thrift stores typically have a varied collection of formal dresses to choose from, including vintage wedding dresses and newer styles. A thrifted dress might not be “on trend” for the season, but it’ll be unique! 

If you go to a bridal consignment shop, they’ll likely have dressing rooms for you to use. A neighborhood thrift shop, however, might not. Know your measurements and bring a fabric tape measurer just in case. This will help you size up the dress in-store and avoid purchasing a dress you might not be able to return. 

Rehearsal Dinner Outfit

Beyond the wedding dress, you can thrift white outfits for every moment of your bridal era. Find a sundress for your bridal shower, a romper for your bachelorette party, and a cocktail dress for your reception dinner. 

Flower Girl Baskets

Give your flower girls something to hold onto with wicker flower girl baskets. Search for baskets of similar shapes and sizes, but don’t worry about finding identical baskets. You can add some ribbons, fabric, or spray paint to customize them for your ceremony.

Thrifting Tips

  • Make a detailed “thrift wish list” to keep track of everything you’re looking for, including how many items you need of each. This will help you go into each store with a game plan and not roam the aisles listlessly. 
  • Some cities have bridal-specific consignment shops or thrift stores. This can be a good place to start your search, especially for items like a wedding dress, decorative signs, or linens. 
  • Before buying anything, make sure it’s easy to clean. Stay away from things like throw pillows or cushions that may be harboring dirt or bugs. 
  • Thrifting can be hit or miss. Don’t discount one store just because you struck out on the first go. Thrift stores rotate their inventory often, so check back the following week.

Planning a Sustainable Wedding Day

While shopping secondhand is a great way to make your wedding day more sustainable, it’s still important to be mindful of your purchases. The most sustainable item is the one you already own. Keep this in mind as you plan your wedding day purchases and try to avoid any impulse buys in the process. 

Rachel Kauffman is a Detroit-based content writer, bookworm, and cat mom to two feisty felines.