Weddings seem to bet getting more and more expensive. Couples have a hard time finding ways to save money on the big event. Wedding dress rental is something that may make sense. Before you stop reading, please hear me out on this.
When it comes to planning and paying for a wedding, couples should spend according to their priorities. The easiest way to identify how to budget for a wedding is to discuss what is most important to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Some commonly named top priorities among engaged couples – photography, venue, and the guest list. That makes a ton of sense because where you celebrate and who you celebrate with are two things that impact how you feel on your wedding day. And, of course, photography is the tangible reminder of all the fantastic memories you'll share on that special day.
One thing that doesn't always rank as highly among the list of priorities is the wedding day attire. Anyone who's ever seen an episode of Say Yes to the dress can attest to the fact that wedding dresses can be quite expensive. While there are several affordable wedding dress retailers to shop these days, you sometimes get what you pay for in terms of craftsmanship and quality.
While some brides-to-be have been dreaming of their wedding dress for decades, others couldn't care less about donning a designer-labeled gown. Even if your dream dress is at the top of your list of wedding wants, you can still attain the look for less with some savvy bridal hacks. While buying a used wedding dress is increasing in popularity thanks to a combo of cost-savings and being eco-friendly, there's another way to score your dream dress for less– and that's renting a wedding dress.
Why Renting Your Wedding Dress is the Way to Go
There are tons of perks to enjoy if you choose to rent a wedding dress rather than buy new ones. Let us count the ways! Check out some of the top benefits of renting your wedding dress below.
Score a savvy price on the designer dress of your dreams
If you're looking to reduce the cost of your wedding attire while also scoring a designer dress, renting may be the best option for you. Renting is a great way to don a designer gown without the hefty price tag. Often times, you can rent a dress for a fraction of the original retail price to purchase new. Brides to be can now enjoy the rental wedding attire cost savings that grooms have been afforded for decades– yay for equality!
No Need to Dry Clean or Preserve
If you pay a handsome sum for the designer wedding dress of your dreams, chances are you're going to need to have it professionally cleaned and preserved to ensure its beauty. Wedding gowns are delicate– you shouldn't just shove it in the back of your closet to collect dust for decades. You should aim to have your wedding dress professionally dry-cleaned and preserved for safekeeping to make sure it maintains its original state for eternity.
You won't have to store it, either.
One post-wedding challenge brides often grapple with is where and how to store their wedding gown after the big day. If you're short on storage space (NYC-sized closet, anyone?), then you may not want to sacrifice the room for an oversized item you're likely never going to wear again. Skip the hassle of reselling or storing your wedding dress by opting to rent instead.
Wedding dresses have a terrible cost-per-wear factor.
When considering purchasing an item of clothing, calculating the Cost-Per-Wear is an excellent rule of thumb to decide whether or not an item is a good investment. Paying a pretty penny for an item you'll only wear once doesn't really make practical sense unless it's something you plan to resell after your single-use. Opting for a wedding dress rental is a much savvier and sustainable choice.
Renting is more sustainable than buying new.
Renting your wedding dress is a fantastic eco-friendly wedding idea! The keys to being sustainable are to recycle, reduce, and reuse. Wearing a designer dress from a wedding dress rental company allows you to reuse an item that's been worn before and will be worn again. It also assists you in reducing the amount of wedding waste you produce since you're not making a single-use purchase. You can take it a step further by seeking out a rental company that is committed to sustainable practices and recycles dresses that are no longer suitable for rental due to damage or wear.
The downsides of renting a wedding dress
Of course, renting is not the perfect solution for every bride. There are some drawbacks to renting a gown that should be considered, such as added fees like shipping costs or security deposits. Check out the other cons below:
You can't make alterations
Unfortunately, you won't be able to make alterations or modifications to your dress if you rent it. That means it may not fit you as flawlessly as a dress that you could have custom-tailored to your body. Whether this is truly an issue or not depends on many different factors and personal preferences. If you find you're typically an in-between-sizes kind of gal and often have to have your clothing adjusted, you may not want to rent a designer wedding dress.
You won't be able to pass it down.
Are you someone who has always dreamed of being able to hand down your wedding dress to your future daughter? Of course, you won't be able to do that if you rent it. If you don't buy the gown, you don't get to keep it. If you're the overly sentimental type, renting may not be the best choice.
Sizes + options may be limited.
From what we've seen from the options we've found, you may have trouble finding a specific dress you want in a full range of sizes. Because of the single-item nature of many of the rental sites we found, you'll likely have a tough go of finding your dream dress in your specific size. If you're lucky enough to hit the jackpot, you will reap the reward of significant savings. If you're concerned about having a perfect fit, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
You won't get the “bridal experience.”
Unless you first find and try on your dress in a traditional salon, you likely won't get the same wedding dress shopping experience that you've pictured. Not to mention, your timeline for receiving, wearing, and returning the dress will be quite slim.
Should you rent your wedding dress?
The answer is, it depends. If you are considering opting for a rental over purchasing new, you should ask yourself the following questions to help you decide.
Questions to ask yourself when considering renting a wedding gown:
- What will you do with your wedding dress after your big day?
- Is your dream wedding dress costly?
- Can you find a dress you like available for rent?
- Is it worth it to you to buy a designer gown you will only wear once?
- What is the biggest factor in making this decision for me? Is it the cost, or is it wearing my dream dress?
- Are there other items on my wedding wishlist that rank higher than a pricey gown?
- Do you typically fall in-between sizes? Will the inability to alter your dress be a factor?
If you ask yourself these questions and find yourself leaning towards renting over buying, then check out the resources below to find a source to rent from.
Where to Rent a Wedding Dress
If you've decided that the rental process is right for you, you'll probably be wondering where you can find wedding dresses for rent. What are the best places to rent a wedding dress? If you're looking for local options for leasing a wedding gown, try doing a Google search for
“wedding dress rental business near me” and see what you come up with. However, choosing an online rental business will likely give you potential options to consider. We did a bit of Google research and came up with the following online options to consider– check them out below!
Rent the Runway
RTR is widely known as a reputable company to rent and return designer clothing, but did you know they have a whole section of wedding-worthy frocks you can choose from as well? While you're at it, check out their selection of rental accessories to finish your wedding day look! Rent the Runway even offers a Wedding Concierge service to help you pick your perfect styles. They make things super easy by including a pre-addressed return shipping label, so all you have to do is drop your package in the mail to return your dress.
Another option for renting a bridal dress is RentMyDress.com — their website allows you to search and filter by many different points to peruse their selection. We spotted dresses as low as $150 for a rental there, although it seems they are listing single dresses in a specific size. You'll likely also have to pay a refundable security deposit as well as shipping costs, so the total rental price may not actually be as savvy as it seems.
Yet another rental option is the P2P rental site StyleLend. Users can upload items from their own closet to rent out to others to earn money for their clothing or accessories. While this may work for a cute dress for a bachelorette party or bridal shower, renting an item like a wedding dress may be worth going with a more professional source. If you're looking for an LWD for an intimate elopement or micro wedding that isn't overly fancy, this could be a good option.
Is renting a wedding dress right for you?
Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of renting a wedding gown before making your final decision. If you don't want to pay a hefty price for a huge white dress that will take up precious space in your closet for years to come, you may be better off renting!
From a purely practical perspective, renting is an excellent option if you're concerned with cost savings, want to avoid the aftercare like dry cleaning and storage, and if you aren't overly sentimental or picky. If you're going to have a traditional bridal shopping experience, you may want to choose the more familiar path to buying your wedding dress. That being said, there are plenty of other ways to save money on your wedding, so feel free to check out our wedding budget tips for more money-saving ideas!
Jessica Bishop is the founder of The Budget Savvy Bride, an extensive online resource to help couples plan a beautiful wedding they’re proud of on a budget they can actually afford. Jessica has shared her money-saving tips and planning advice with outlets such as GMA, BRIDES, Refinery 29, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and more.