Should You Rent or Buy Your Wedding Dress? (The Pros and Cons)

When it comes to planning a wedding, there are few details more important to the bride than finding a beautiful wedding dress for her big day.

But, what if you didn’t actually have to buy your dress? What if you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by renting your dream gown? 

If you do opt to go the rental route, you won’t be alone. The wedding dress rental industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade as brides, for a variety of reasons, forgo the purchase of their bridal dress.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of renting your wedding dress so you can make a solid decision on which route is best for you.

Rent a wedding dress

The Advantages of Renting a Wedding Dress

There may be more advantages to a wedding dress rental than you think. Are you curious about how renting a gown can work for you? Read on to learn all of the reasons you may want to rent a wedding dress. 

It Saves You Money

The average bride spends roughly $1,600 on a wedding dress for her big day. That’s a lot of money to shell out for a dress you’ll only wear for a matter of hours. 

So, unless you’re planning to buy a cheap dress from a budget retailer, renting really is your best way of getting the dress you want without breaking the bank.

A typical Pronovias wedding gown, for instance, costs anywhere from $1,600 to more than $4,300 USD (£1,200 to £3,000), but can be rented for between $350 and $1,000 on average. That’s a significant savings and frees up more funds in your wedding budget for other items.

Photo By Oscar de la Renta

It Makes Designer Dresses Affordable

Let’s face it, designer wedding dresses can be pretty expensive, especially if you want a haute couture gown from designers like Oscar de la Renta or Vera Wang.

So, if you’ve always dreamed of saying “I do” in a designer wedding dress, but your budget simply won’t stretch that far, renting your dream dress may be the answer.

A wedding dress rental can significantly drive down the cost of a dress from a high-end brand. In fact, a designer wedding dress rents for a fraction of its sticker price, allowing you to get the style you want for significantly less.

Gowns from three of the best known and priciest designers — Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera — can often be rented for as low as $1,500. And that’s a bargain when you consider that Vera Wang’s Luxe collection starts at $6,900 and the average Oscar de la Renta gown is at least $10,000.

It Makes Two Dresses Possible

If you want a traditional ball gown for your wedding ceremony but something slimmer and sexier for the reception, that can add up to a substantial bill just for your wedding garb.

So, whether you purchase one and rent one or you decide to rent both, the cost won’t be nearly so prohibitive, allowing you to get your dream dress for your nuptials and a more practical style for dancing at your reception.

It’s Maintenance Free

Brides who opt to purchase a wedding dress then have the headache and expense of dry cleaning, preserving and storing their dress. The cleaning bill alone can cost $200 or more.

With a rental, however, you simply return the dress to the retailer and it will take care of the dry cleaning and any necessary maintenance.

As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about a voluminous dress taking up space in your closet.

It’s Ideal for Destination Weddings

Renting a dress takes a lot of the hassle out of a destination wedding. If there is a wedding salon at your destination that offers rentals, then you won’t need to worry about packing your dress and then dealing with the resulting wrinkles.

If you’re flying, you also won’t have the stress of your wedding dress being lost or damaged during your flight.

The Disadvantages of Renting a Wedding Dress

While dealing with a wedding dress rental firm can be a great way to save money, the process isn’t perfect. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about renting your bridal attire.

You’ll Be Responsible for Damages

While most bridal gown rental companies expect to dry clean the dress to take care of minor stains and soiling, any significant stains or damage will be your responsibility.

If, for instance, someone spills wine on your dress or the hem gets torn while you’re dancing, you will have to fork over for the repairs. You may even end up paying for the dress if there’s significant damage that can’t be fixed.

Selection and Sizing are More Limited

Whether you’re looking for a specific style, designer or both, finding the exact dress you want in your size may be a challenge if not outright impossible. Or, you may find the dress you want but it’s already spoken for on your wedding day. 

Sizing can also be an issue. Unlike traditional bridal retailers, a particular dress probably won’t be available in several sizes and alterations may or may not be permitted.

If you’re ordering online, you also run the risk of receiving a dress that looks good in the pictures but doesn’t suit you once you try it on. While many rental companies do allow you to order dresses to try on before officially renting one, you’ll have to pay for that privilege.

You Won’t Have Your Dress as a Keepsake

If you’re not a sentimental bride or aren’t interested in passing your gown on to your own daughter one day, then you’ll have no problem renting and returning your wedding dress. If, however, you are on the sentimental side, you may have trouble parting with your dream gown.

Renting also means you must forgo the traditional dress shopping outing with your mom, sisters or friends.

Wedding Dress Rentals Made Easy

If you decide to rent your wedding dress, there are a few little tips and tricks to keep in mind to make the renting process as seamless as possible.

Read Reviews

If you take your wedding dress search online, be sure to read customer reviews about the rental company before doing business with them. Once you’ve vetted the rental website, it’s also a good idea to read what previous customers have had to say about the gowns you’re considering.

Know Your Size

If you’re new to wedding dress shopping, be it online or in-store, you may find the sizes quite confusing. If you wear a size 8 in U.S. clothing, for example, you’ll probably be a 10 or a 12 in a bridal gown. If the gown is in European sizing, however, you’d be a size 36.

Knowing your measurements is also helpful if you’re dealing with an online store that offers alterations. Measure your bust, waist and hips as well as dress length, which is known as hollow to hem. To properly gauge hollow to hem, measure from the center of your collarbone down the length of your body — either to the floor or where you want the dress hem to end.

Use Filters

While shopping for a dress is far more relaxing online, it can still be quite a time commitment. To help speed up your search for the perfect gown, always make use of the website’s filters. 

Most rental sites will offer filters to allow you to customize your search based on price, designer and silhouette. Some sites offer even more detailed searches so you can look for a white dress with a particular sleeve type or neckline or made of a particular material like lace or silk.

How Much to Budget for a Dress Rental

Just like purchasing a bridal gown from your local salon, there’s no set price for renting a dress. 

While you can often rent wedding gowns for $100-$600, they can also cost more depending on the dress and the rental company you choose. Gowns by high-end brands will come with a much higher rental price than an off-the-rack dress. Typically, wedding dresses from well-known designers will rent for anywhere between $500 and $2,000. 

If you plan to rent more than your wedding gown, a membership service like Rent the Runway, will allow you to pay a monthly fee for a certain number of styles each month.

Where to Rent a Wedding Dresses

Wedding Dress for Rent 

Wedding dress for rent
Pronovias at Wedding Dress for Rent

With up to 80 percent off of retail price, this online rental company has a wide range of wedding dresses available.

While Wedding Dress for Rent doesn’t have a bricks and mortar store, you can order dresses to try on before your big day. If a dress doesn’t fit or you don’t like the style, you can exchange it for a store credit if the new dress is cheaper or pay the difference if you opt for a more expensive gown. 

When adding a dress to your shopping cart, you fill in the size, how many days you wish to rent and your wedding date. The company also asks brides to e-mail their measurements to their tailor to ensure the dress will fit. The company can adjust one size up or as many as two sizes down to make your dream dress perfect for your special day.

While this website doesn’t offer accessory rentals, you can find bridesmaid dresses and dresses for the mothers of the bride and groom. It can be a good way for your bridal party to save some money.

You will be required to pay a $100-$500 security deposit plus shipping based on where you live, but the company handles dry cleaning and provides each bride with a free return shipping label.


Wedding dress rental
Nina Canacci at Poshare

If you’re looking for a traditional wedding dress, this online shop may not be the best fit for you. If you want a less conventional wedding dress, however, Poshare could be just the website you’ve been looking for.

Brides can search this website for dresses and accessories from a variety of boutiques, designers and wholesalers. The site boasts a mixture of for-purchase items and rentals. While Poshare has a healthy selection of wedding dresses, more than half of them are for purchase only, making it harder to find a style you actually want to rent.

Poshare carries dresses from hundreds of designers such as Vera Wang and Gucci, although they are not always in stock. Wedding dress rentals range from $60-$800 and the cost of shipping typically ranges from $6 to $12. 

While Poshare recommends lenders offer free shipping return labels, you could get stuck paying the return shipping costs. 

Janet Mandell 

Online wedding dress rental
Vera Wang at Janet Mandell

One of the best online rental sites for high-end bridal couture, this site is a must-search for any bride looking to save money on a designer dress.

While the selection isn’t extensive, you can find dress rentals at a reasonable price from the likes of Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrara. When you consider that such designs sell for $8,000 or more, the $1,500 rental fee offers outstanding value.

Accessory rentals are also available, enabling brides to pick out the perfect clutch from high-end brands like Alexander McQueen or Chanel. Jewelry is available from the likes of Givenchy or Saint Laurent while shoes are available from Prada, Jimmy Choo and other high-end brands.

Shipping is free and if you’re not satisfied with the style or fit of the dress you rented, you can contact the service for a refund or an exchange within 24 hours of receiving it.

Rent the Runway

Rent wedding dress
Badgley Mischka at Rent the Runway

This rental company is not the best site for choosing a classic bridal dress but, it may work for you if you want a casual or bohemian look. It’s also great for brides who want to change into a “party dress” for the dancing.

Rent the Runway isn’t a traditional rental retailer. Instead, it offers a customizable monthly membership that can be paused or cancelled at any time. After you’ve chosen the rental plan you want, you can get started on building your first shipment. With more than 700 designers and thousands of styles to choose from, you’re sure to find at least a few white dresses that will work for you. 

There are, however, accessory rentals available specifically for weddings with a variety of jewelry, veils and metallic or white clutches. If you’re looking for non-traditional accessories, the online rental shop also offers a range of scarves, hats and sunglasses as well as masks. 

Once you’ve selected the dresses or accessories you want, you then choose to rent for either four or eight days. If an item doesn’t fit, you can return it to Rent the Runway for a refund within seven days of delivery. You will need to pay a $5.95 restocking fee plus tax, however.

All items arrive dry cleaned and ready to wear in a reusable garment bag. While you must pay a $9.95 shipping fee to receive your items, they can be returned to Rent the Runway for free.

Lending Luxury

Luxury dress rental
Clarisse at Lending Luxury

This online retailer’s focus is on renting high-end dresses for a variety of occasions. So, while the website may not specialize in wedding fashion, it’s still worth checking out. 

Your best bet for finding a dress for your big day is by utilizing the filters. By looking for wedding dresses in ivory and white, you’ll find a nice if not extensive selection of gowns. If you’re a bride who doesn’t want a dress with a full skirt, there are a number of dresses that may appeal to you.

And with the average rental cost coming in at an affordable $100 plus shipping, this is a very economical way to get a high-end dress for a fraction of the retail price. A lot of brides take advantage of the low purchase prices if they really fall in love with the dress.

Lending Luxury also offers fashion fixes for brides in the form of stiletto ankle straps, breast enhancers, bra converters and other essential accessories.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a promotional code on Lending Luxury’s Facebook page for an even bigger cost savings.

Wrap Up

Renting a dress for your nuptials can be an excellent way to keep your budget in line without sacrificing on style. So, if you want to keep costs down and don’t mind forgoing the traditional shopping experience, renting a dress might be the perfect choice.

With our helpful tips in mind, you’ll not only know where to shop online, you’ll have an easier time finding the right style for you.

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