Wedding Dress Rental: The Real Costs (and Savings)
It is well-known that wedding dresses are expensive. For many brides who want to have the quintessential white dress, it is likely the most expensive dress they’ll ever buy. However, there is now another option — renting.
Currently, the average UK bride will spend around £1,300 on her wedding dress. This is pretty steep for a dress most brides only wear once in their life. Repurposing a beautiful, white gown for another occasion is not always that easy.
However, renting is rising in popularity as a middle-ground between spending on a designer gown and opting for something cheaper. A study by BusinessWaste.co.uk reveals 4 out of 10 brides-to-be would hire a wedding dress for their big day. Those interviewed in the survey said they would instead use the money to fund their future.
Many bridal sites, both online and in-person, are slowly adding rental options to their line-up. This wider variety of rental options also means a more extensive selection of styles, colours, and sizes of dresses. It is also where most brides will have the best luck finding true vintage wedding pieces that are prohibitively expensive to buy and hard to replicate with modern dress-making techniques.
Unfortunately, much like with most things, it has already become apparent that there are both positive and negative effects of renting a wedding dress. We’ve outlined some of the ways you’ll save when renting and also the cost of taking this route for your big day.
What You’re Saving
The first thing you’re saving is money. While buying a designer dress might never have been an option before, renting makes some of the most lavish dresses more accessible. Dresses that can go for thousands can be found for half or even well under half the price.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie Symonds made a splash this year when she rented her Costarello’s gown for only £45 a day. The dress would typically cost £2,870 if purchased new. Even if you’re not interested in snagging a high-end dress, renting a cheaper dress (think around £17!) brings the overall wedding budget down significantly.
The next thing you’re saving is space. If you buy your wedding dress, you’ll have to store it for the rest of your life. Keeping a wedding dress is not always as simple as packing it away next to your jackets. The delicate fabric, size of many skirts and preserving the dress can be a hassle for your wallet and your cupboard.
This is particularly great if you’re wanting a beautiful princess-style ball gown, which requires underskirts galore or an item with a significant train. Renting these styles of dresses means you are not left with a dress you’ll really never wear again, taking up almost all your cupboard or storage space.
Finally, you could help the environment. While these are still only estimates, second-hand or rented wedding dresses save on the environmental impact of making a brand new dress. Wedding dresses are particularly burdensome on the environment because of the detail usually involved in making them. From tiny beadwork to single-use patterns, wedding dresses by their unique nature means there isn’t a lot of room for genuinely sustainable production practices.
Second-hand wedding dress website Still White says they have resold over 20,000 dresses – saving over 200,000 kg of carbon emissions and 180 million litres of water being used in producing new garments.
What Are The Costs
Although the selection is growing, pre-loved and rented means un-customised. As a result, you are limited to the styles, shapes and sizes on offer.
There is a loss of sentimentality that comes with a dress that isn’t entirely your “own”. This is especially true if you are someone who thought they would like to pass on their dress as an heirloom. However, a lack of an individual design or family heirloom are both smaller considerations. The biggest cost is often still an environmental one.
While a pre-loved dress saves on the environmental costs of making a brand new dress, they don’t completely fix this problem.
Having a dress shipped to you contributes significantly to carbon emissions. This is especially true if you’re ordering a dress from overseas. The price of flying over the dress, driving it to your location and packaging it all adds up.
The packaging itself is also a minefield when it comes to waste. Due to their delicate nature, wedding dresses need extra packaging to protect them in transit. As such, there is a significant amount of recyclable paper and plastic that contributes to rubbish dumps globally.
What This Means For You
Renting a second-hand dress is still the more sustainable and affordable option for your big day.
While it may be impossible to avoid all negative environmental impacts, it is possible to minimise them. When considering a pre-loved dress, try to pick a local company to reduce the carbon footprint caused by shipping. Also, speak to the company you’re renting from about their packaging. Many companies are already moving to recyclable packaging and alternatives that allow you to avoid plastics altogether. If you are a true environmentalist, it is also advisable to ask the company what they do with dresses that are no longer able to be rented out. This will help you understand if the company you are supporting completely reflects your values.
Overall, the benefits of renting a dress and the variety of locations from which to find incredible designs mean it is something a bride should consider seriously and thoughtfully. Check out some of our favourite bridal gown rental services: HURR, My Wardrobe HQ, By Rotation, Rent the Runway, The Volte, All the Dresses.