Renting a Wedding Dress

Amy Finley
Bride looking for wedding dresses

Rather than paying thousands of dollars for a gown you will wear just once, consider renting a wedding dress that you can feel great in while saving money. A rental is a great option for brides who want a stunning dress without the stunning price tag.

Renting a Dress

Brides today have options to rent online or through a local shop. National rental options are more limited; brides should also know that most large bridal shops and chain wedding retailers (such as David's Bridal) do not rent wedding dresses.

Online Dress Rentals

Online wedding dress rentals are possible; though local rental shops are more popular than national stores, there are some available, including:

  • Rent the Runway offers designer wedding dress styles (and they can outfit bridesmaids as well) in sizes 0 to 22. Standard rental periods last for four days, but you can opt for an eight day rental period for an additional charge. They have a wide range of styles, from lace sheaths to flowy boho-inspired dresses with trumpet sleeves. Rental prices vary according to size, date, and designer, but are a fraction of the retail cost of the dresses. Bridal packages with styling services and dress rentals for two events start at $200.
  • Poshare works a little differently in that it connects lenders with potential dress renters. You can choose a rental period from between four and 14 days and choose delivery, courier, or pick up shipping options. Sizes may be available from XXS through 24, though specific sizes will vary depending on what lenders have available. Brides-to-be should be aware that some dresses are only available to buy, but you can filter by rentals only.
  • Lending Luxury has a small selection of wedding dresses available for rent for between five and fifteen days. Dresses include styles by Mori Lee and Terani, with rental fees starting at about $90 and varying by designer and rental period. Shipping and cleaning is included, and you can choose to have it shipped to you on a specified day.

Finding Local Wedding Dress Rentals

Many brides-to-be start their dress rental search in their hometown and surrounding areas. Sometimes local bridal salons offer this service or a store specializing in rentals is available in the area; bridal consignment stores are a good place to check. Costume shops are another place to try for a wedding gown rental. Start your search at one of these rental shops that is nearest to your wedding location, or look for similar shops in your area:

Woman in bridal boutique
  • The Frock Shop in Chicago, Illinois, offers brides a wide selection of gowns through their storage facility, which is currently by appointment only. If you want The Frock Shop to ship a dress to you in one of the 50 states outside the Chicago area, contact them for more details.
  • Fancy Wedding Center Ltd. in Brooklyn, New York, is a great place to find both Mori Lee and Mary's Bridal gowns.
  • Bridal Brilliance Rentals in Salt Lake City, Utah has an inventory of over 600 gowns in a all sizes, including styles by Oleg Cassini, Vera Wang, Stella York, and many more.
  • Amazing Grace Wedding Gowns in Missoula, Montana, offers like-new wedding dresses for a low rental fee of under $200, and the proceeds benefits a charity to help local families.
  • Laine London has a showroom located near Atlanta, Georgia Dresses can be delivered by UPS or courier, and are available to rent for 72 hours. Returns are free, and dry cleaning is included with the rental fee.
  • Modest Gown Rental in Mesa, Arizona, offers a selection of modest wedding gowns available to rent - according to their website's tagline, their rental prices are modest too.
  • Crystal Bridal Boutique is Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award winner and an option for those looking for wedding dress rental in NYC. The Brooklyn-based bridal shop offers luxury gown rentals and will work with brides to find a dress rental that meets their budget and style.

Gown Rental Pros and Cons

Many women are interested in the rental option for their gowns. In addition to buying a wedding dress, most brides have to contend with preserving and storing the wedding dress. With a rented dress, all you have to do is choose the dress, wear it, and return in within the allotted time period. You don't even have to worry about the dry cleaning.

Pros

A rental is a great option if money, maintenance, destination location or space is an issue.

  • Money: With a dress rental, you'll be spending less money. Designer wedding dresses will rent for only a couple of hundred dollars. Some packages may include veil, shoes and jewelry. Use the money saved for other wedding aspects.
  • Maintenance: With a rented dress, cleaning and preserving the dress is the least of your worries. Once you're through with the dress, you can return it. The cleaning is handled by the rental business.
  • Destination weddings: Renting a destination wedding dress will save you from having to lug a heavy suit bag on a plane. Many places famous for destination weddings, such as Las Vegas or Hawaii, have numerous wedding rental shops.
  • Space: If you have limited storage space, a rental helps to eliminate the issue of where to store your wedding dress.

Cons

While renting a dress may sound like a great idea, keep these potential issues in mind:

  • Selection: The selection for a rental dress is often smaller than at typical dress shops, and the available designs may be several seasons or even years old.
  • Size: In many cases you won't be able to make alterations and can only choose a gown in your size. If the dress of your dreams doesn't fit properly, you'll have to find a different one. If the rental location does offer alterations, it's usually a separate charge.
  • Care: While you won't have to pay for dry cleaning, you will have to take special care with the gown. If you cause damage to the dress, you may be expected to pay for the repairs. If the dress is damaged beyond repair, you'll have to purchase it outright.
  • Impersonal: If you go for a wedding dress rental, you lose the ability to be able to save your dress and pass it on to someone special.

Tips for Choosing a Rental Gown

Follow these wedding dress tips for choosing a rental gown:

Get the Right Fit

Woman choosing wedding dress

Try the gown on for fit. If it isn't a perfect fit, find out if minor alterations are available through the rental shop. Most will do small alterations, but do not allow any outside of their store. Some rental places, such as Rent the Runway, offer brides the choice of a back up size in case their chosen size is too small.

Think About Multiple Dress Options

Rental options may be a little more limited than purchasing a dress, so having multiple options in mind rather than having your mind set on one specific style can help you when deciding on the right choice. Think about vintage looks, informal dresses, and different silhouettes and levels of embellishment.

Ask About Rentals at Smaller Bridal Shops

Some bridal stores may be willing to rent wedding dresses, even if they aren't advertising this service. Smaller bridal shops and wedding consignment stores that have individual owners will likely be your best bet. If you are browsing gowns locally, don't be shy about asking whether a retailer offers rentals or would be willing to consider it for the dress you have in mind.

Check the Condition of the Dress

Inspect the dress for any rips, tears or imperfections. While most dresses are cleaned and repaired after weddings, some may still have small stains or tiny tears. Make sure you document these if you choose to rent the gown.

Know the Rental Agreement Details

Read the fine print of the rental contract. Some places will allow you to keep the gown for several days after the wedding, while others require you return the gown within 24 hours. Additionally, others will require a non-refundable deposit, even if you cancel your order.

Consider Your Accessories

Make sure you find out what additional items are included in the rental. A few shops might include a petticoat and veil, while others may charge a small fee for renting these items. Some places, such as Happily Ever Borrowed and Little Things Borrowed, rent veils or complete sets of wedding accessories.

Modern Dress Options for Today's Brides

Choosing wedding dress rental instead of buying a one-time-wear gown is an economical decision that can help a couple trim their wedding budget without trimming their special day. Thanks to options like pre-owned gowns, informal dress choices, and rental options, brides will look stunning the gown of their dreams and keep wedding costs down.

Renting a Wedding Dress