Many brides say yes to buying their wedding dress, but some are choosing to skip the lifetime commitment to a gown they’ll only wear once. After all, bridal clothes can be a major expense, and that money could easily go toward other aspects of your dream wedding — or future married life — instead.
Let’s break down the ins and outs of wedding dress rentals to help you decide if buying or renting a wedding dress is the right move for you:
- Renting a Wedding Dress 101
- Pros and Cons of Renting Your Wedding Dress
- How Does Renting a Wedding Dress Work?
- How Much Does It Cost To Rent a Wedding Dress?
- Wedding Dress Rental Stories From Real Brides
- Where Can I Rent a Wedding Dress?
- Tips for Renting a Wedding Dress
- The Bottom Line on Renting a Wedding Dress
Renting a Wedding Dress 101
According to Brides and The Knot, the average cost of a wedding dress is about $1,600. If you can’t afford that (or you simply don’t feel like forking over so much for one-time formalwear), there’s a cheaper option: renting your wedding dress.
With renting, you’ll pay a fraction of the purchase price and keep the wedding dress for a fixed amount of time before sending it back. This option can drastically reduce the total amount you shell out. In fact, you might be able to choose from designer gowns that would otherwise be too expensive to buy.
Pros and Cons of Renting Your Wedding Dress
Renting a wedding dress can help you save money and make dress shopping a snap. However, before deciding to rent your wedding dress, consider the different benefits and drawbacks of going down this route.
Pro: It’s often much cheaper to rent
Renting may be a great option if you prefer to keep attire costs to a minimum or don’t view your wedding gown as a priority. Renting can also make it possible for you to wear that designer dress you love but can’t afford to buy. For example, wedding dress rental company Wedding Dress For Rent lists gowns that are typically a quarter of the retail price.
Con: Dress rentals don’t offer a completely ‘custom’ experience
You’ll find a wider selection of dresses when you buy your gown. You can also get the dress permanently altered to fit you perfectly and customize other details to your taste, like the color, length, or extra beading. With renting, you’ll be one of many brides in the world to wear that exact style, and you miss out on the experience of tailoring a piece to become yours alone.
Pro: Renting for a one-time event may make sense
To some people, 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. Beyond the sheer cost, you may not want to deal with the logistics of cleaning, preserving, and storing a dress after the wedding is over.
Read More: The Ultimate Wedding Budget Checklist
Con: You can’t keep the dress or pass it down to your children
You may want to hold on to your wedding dress as a keepsake to admire occasionally, wear for a milestone anniversary or to renew your vows, or pass down to a child someday. However, a rental is yours conditionally for only a few days or weeks.
Pro: The wedding dress rental process can be quick
Wedding dress rental companies can save the day when you need a gown ASAP. If your wedding date is approaching and you have minimal time to shop around, place an order, and get fitted for your dream dress, rentals can give you a much faster turnaround time due to the lack of customization.
Con: You usually don’t get to try on the dress ahead of time
If you’re only renting a wedding dress for a few days, you’ll likely get it just before the big day. What if the gown arrives damaged? Or, what if the fit is off? You’ll only have a short time to modify the dress — if the rental company even allows that.
For many brides, the stress of not seeing or trying on the dress until right before the wedding isn’t worth the savings. You can partially alleviate this stress by trying on the dress in person before renting, or paying for an extended rental so that the dress arrives a few weeks before the wedding.
Pro: Renting isn’t limited to the wedding dress
It’s not just brides who can rent their attire. Grooms, members of the wedding party, and guests may also save money and find it convenient to rent. 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 likely be appreciated.
How Does Renting a Wedding Dress Work?
Here’s a rundown on what to expect when you rent a wedding dress, according to information from some well-known wedding dress rental companies and local boutiques.
Wedding dress rental timeline
Many clothing rental companies offer a few options in terms of rental length. For example, you can choose a rental term of four or eight days with Rent the Runway, while Poshare allows you to select from four, seven, or 14 days. This information varies by company, so make sure to check rental periods and return dates wherever you’re shopping.
Wedding dress rental deposit
Many online dress rental companies and local boutiques charge a refundable damage deposit to rent a wedding dress, but some don’t. The size of the deposit depends on the company and the value of the dress, but they typically start from $100 and can go up to $1,000.
Can you alter a rented wedding dress?
This depends on the dress rental company. Some bridal boutiques allow temporary alterations to adjust the size or length of the dress and may include them in the cost of the rental. Overall, though, your ability to alter the dress will be limited compared to when you buy.
How Much Does It Cost To Rent a Wedding Dress?
From our research, a wedding dress rental can cost anywhere from $30 to more than $5,700. The final rental price will depend on the dress, the rental period you choose, and the company. However, renting a dress is almost always cheaper than buying a similar one brand-new.
To compare the differences between buying vs. renting, we sampled the costs of wedding dresses from a few vendors:
Rent the Runway
- Likely white shoulder dress
- Cost to buy: $198
- Cost to rent: $30-$40
- Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini white angelic lace gown
- Cost to buy: $1,200
- Cost to rent: $165-$180
Wedding Dress For Rent
- Jiemo Bridal Sheila dress
- Cost to buy: $747
- Cost to rent: $100-$150
- Pronovias Bridal Charis dress
- Cost to buy: $2,200
- Cost to rent: $555-$925
- Clarisse fine shimmer halter dress
- Cost to buy: $400 (retail)
- Cost to rent: $100-$145
- Robert Rodriguez Black Label Felicity dress
- Cost to buy: $795 (retail)
- Cost to rent: $115-$160
Wedding Dress Rental Stories From Real Brides
Do people actually rent their wedding dresses? These two brides did, and they loved their decision. Here’s why.
Renting a dress for an outdoor wedding
Hiral Gallimore and her husband Terry had two weddings, the first of which was an intimate ceremony by a waterfall in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park in September 2018. For that event, she paid a discounted $80 for Rent the Runway’s bridal package, which allowed her to try on the dress 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,” Gallimore 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 taking place the night before the wedding.
Gallimore loved her dress, has no regrets, and is sold on renting dresses — not only 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.
Renting a dress for a glam wedding
When Julie Otte wed in a “chill glam” ceremony in a Grand Rapids, Michigan, photo studio in 2012, she rented a full-length gold sequin strapless dress from Rent the Runway. Otte paid $89 and says she saved thousands of dollars by not buying a similar dress. Though the dress arrived in two sizes the day before her wedding, she wasn’t worried at all about the tight timing.
“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,” Otte 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, depending on where you live. Below are a few online options.
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway is a great option for brides seeking nontraditional wedding dresses and suits. It offers free dry cleaning and rental periods of four or eight days. The company also provides “wedding concierge” packages and services available via online form.
Note that Rent the Runway has permanently closed its in-person retail stores as of August 2020 due to the pandemic. Instead, the company is focusing on expanding its locations for drop-off boxes, where customers can use self-service kiosks to return their rentals.
Wedding Dress For Rent
Wedding Dress For Rent may be good for brides seeking a traditional or high-end designer wedding dress from international brands. It offers a selection of over 260 wedding dress rentals, ranging from under $50 to over $5,700. (Yes, it costs $5,714 to rent the company’s most expensive gown for three days, and $9,524 if you want it for five!) To gauge how much your dress rental might cost, you’ll usually be charged 25% of the dress’s retail price.
Lending Luxury has a virtual assistant to help you find flattering dresses based on different factors of your choosing. Its wedding dress rentals cost between $50 to $140, though the selection is smaller compared to other companies. To rent from Lending Luxury, choose your delivery date and a rental term of five, 10, or 15 days. The cost of return shipping and dry cleaning is included.
Tips for Renting a Wedding Dress
It might feel extra stressful to rent something as important as your wedding dress online, especially if you haven’t used a clothing rental company before. Here are some tips to help make your experience go smoothly.
1. Pay close attention to the rental duration
Dress rental companies set their own terms, so make sure you’re comfortable with the allotted time window before committing to the rental. You’ll want to leave some wiggle room around your wedding day so you can resolve any problems that may arise with the dress.
2. Check the reviews
Feedback from previous customers can shed light on how the dress might look on you, especially if they provide their own measurements. Rent the Runway is one company that allows users to rate the fit of each clothing item and share their experience and photos.
3. Reach out to the vendor
If you have any concerns or questions about sizing, the terms of the rental, or anything else, get in touch with the lender. Some of them will work with you to make temporary alterations based on your sizing specifications.
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 costs of preserving and storing a dress. The best part? A wedding dress rental allows you to cross dress shopping off your list quickly and enjoy your big day with less stress — while still feeling and looking fabulous.