Many brides say “yes” to buying a bridal gown, but some are skipping the lifetime commitment to a dress they’ll wear once. Let’s break down the ins and outs of wedding dress rentals to help you decide if renting a wedding dress is the right move for you.
Pros and Cons of Renting Your Wedding Dress
Renting a wedding dress could save you money and make dress shopping a snap. Of course, there are factors to consider before you make a decision about whether to rent your wedding dress.
Pro: It’s often cheaper to rent
Renting may be a great option if you prefer to keep attire costs to a minimum or simply don’t view the dress as a top priority. It also can allow you to wear that designer dream dress you love but can’t afford to buy.
Con: Dress rental doesn’t offer a completely “custom” experience
When buying your gown, there is a wider range of selection. You also get it permanently altered to fit you perfectly. You can often order a dress in another color, length, or with extra beading, fully customized to your taste. While you aren’t the only bride in the world to wear that exact style, it can be special to have a custom-fitted piece that’s yours alone.
Pro: Renting a wear-it-once item may make sense
You may think it just doesn’t seem right to shell out a lot of money for an item of clothing that’s going to get worn once, no matter how special the occasion. And you may not want to have to deal with the logistics of getting a wedding dress cleaned, preserved, and stored.
Con: You can’t keep it or pass the dress down to your children
You may want to keep your wedding dress as a keepsake to admire, dance around the kitchen in, wear for a milestone anniversary, or preserve to pass down to a child someday. A rental is yours for only a few days or weeks.
Pro: The wedding dress rental process can be relatively quick
Dress rental saves the day if you need a dress quickly. If the wedding date is approaching and you have minimal time left to shop for, order, and get your dream dress fitted before the big day, rentals have a much faster turnaround time.
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Con: You don’t get to try it on until just before the wedding
If you’re only renting a dress for a few days, you’ll likely get it just before the big day. What if it arrives damaged? Or the fabric is not what you expected? The fit is off? You’ll only have a short time to modify the dress (if your rental company allows that) or make a change. For many brides, the stress of not seeing or trying the dress on until right before is not worth the savings. You can partially alleviate this stress by renting in person and trying the dress on in advance, or paying for an extended rental so the dress arrives a few weeks before the wedding.
Pro: Renting extends beyond the dress
It’s not just brides who rent. Grooms, attendants, parents, and wedding guests also may find renting formal attire to be a convenient move that saves money. No matter how convinced you are that your bridesmaids will definitely want to wear their dresses again, giving them the choice to rent or buy will be appreciated.
How Does Renting a Wedding Dress Work?
Are you considering renting a wedding dress? Here’s a rundown on what to expect, according to information we sampled from some well-known online wedding dress rental companies and local boutiques.
Wedding dress rental timeline
Many wedding dress rental companies offer a choice of rental time ranging from a few days to a few weeks. Some offer open-ended return dates.
Wedding dress rental deposit
You may have to pay a refundable deposit to rent a wedding dress. Many online dress rental companies and local boutiques charge a security deposit, but some don’t. Deposits typically range from $100 to $500.
Can you alter a rented wedding dress?
This depends on the rental company. Some bridal boutiques include alterations in the cost of dress rental, and some dress rental companies allow “temporary” stitching that can be let out later to adjust the size or length. Overall, though, your alteration options are limited compared to buying.
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How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Wedding Dress?
A wedding dress rental typically costs from $50 to $500, but you can pay less or much more. The price depends on the dress, the rental time period you choose, and the wedding dress rental company. However, renting a dress is almost always cheaper than buying a similar one brand new.
Renting online can help bring the cost down even more. We sampled a few wedding dresses from Rent the Runway to compare costs:
- A Likely brand white shoulder dress: $198 new | $30 to rent
- A form-fitting Badgley Mischka gown: $660 new | $99 to rent
- A Philosophy di Lorenzo Sarafini lace gown: $1,200 new | $180 to rent
Renting Wedding Dress Stories from Real Brides
Do people really rent their wedding dresses? Yes, they do! These two brides did and loved their decision.
Renting a dress for an outdoor wedding
Bride Hiral Gallimore and her husband Terry were having two weddings, the first an intimate ceremony by a waterfall in Shenandoah National Park in September 2018 and the second in December in India.
For the first event, she paid $80 for Rent the Runway’s bridal package (with a discount), which allowed her to try the dress on months in advance. She chose a knee-length white designer dress with a looped cowl neck and bell sleeves. “It was very form fitting and structured,” she says. “The sleeves were everything. They were amazing.”
She decided to rent her dress because she wanted to look “bridal” at the small ceremony without spending a fortune. She also wanted different outfits and accessories for the bridal shower, rehearsal lunch, and party the night before the wedding. Renting everything allowed her to look great in all the event photos without all the effort or expense.
This bride loved her dress, has no regrets and is sold on renting dresses, not just as a bride but also as an attendant or wedding guest. She loves the idea of saving money and not having to store and move formal dresses.
“I’m in a wedding in October, and I’m pushing the bride to let us rent our dresses,” she says.
Renting a dress for a glam wedding
When she wed in a “chill glam” ceremony in a photo studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2012, Julie Otte rented a full-length gold sequin strapless dress from Rent the Runway. She paid $89 and says she saved thousands of dollars over buying a similar dress. While the tight timing would make some brides anxious, to say the least, she wasn’t at all worried about having the dress arrive in two sizes the day before her wedding.
“It fit like a dream, it wore like pajamas (well strapless pajamas — ahem) and I got to wear a glittery gold dress to marry the love of my life,” she says. “The best part: The next day I literally shoved it into a return mailer, dropped it at my local post office, and went on my honeymoon. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Where Can I Rent a Wedding Dress?
You can rent a wedding dress online or at a local bridal shop. Here are a few options:
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway is a top option for renting a wedding dress online. Rent the Runway offers free two-day shipping in both directions, free dry cleaning, and multiple options that allow you to choose how long you keep the dress. They’re great for brides seeking non-traditional wedding dresses and suits. They also offer a wedding concierge package that starts at $200 for the bride. It includes a concierge to help with your dresses and accessories for two events. You can select your delivery date and whether you want to rent for three or five days.
Wedding Dress for Rent
Wedding Dress for Rent is an online bridal dress rental company that offers a selection of over 200 designer wedding dresses for rent ranging from less than $50 to over $5,000. (Yes, $5,000 to rent a dress for three days, and $9,500 if you want it for five!) This company may be a good option if you’re looking for a traditional or very high-end designer wedding dress. They charge a security deposit of between $100 and $500, depending on the rental price.
Lending Luxury offers wedding dresses for rent from $65 to $140, though they have a smaller selection than some other rental companies. You can choose your delivery date and rent for five, 10, or 15 days. The cost of return shipping and dry cleaning are included in the rental price for all three companies.
The Bottom Line on Renting a Wedding Dress
Renting a dress isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great way to save money, get a dress quickly, and skip the cost of preserving and storing a dress in the future.
The best part? Wedding dress rental allows you to cross dress shopping off your list quickly and helps you enjoy your big day with less stress while still feeling and looking fabulous.