Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? That best friend ish can get crazy expensive. As the average cost of weddings rise, brides are not only looking for ways to cut down their own costs, also realizing the financial toll their wedding often takes on the wedding party — and renting bridesmaid dresses probably the easiest way to make things a bit cheaper for everyone. The average bridesmaid spends about $1,500 - $1,800 per wedding. That's like, two months rent. For someone else's party. From the bachelorette rager in Vegas, to the hometown bridal shower, to the countless brunches, wine nights, and minor mental breakdowns, bridesmaids are shelling out a pretty penny to stand at the altar next to their best friend on her big day.
Though the memories last forever, one thing that doesn’t is the bridesmaids’ dress. Let’s be real, “you can shorten it and wear it again” is one of the biggest wedding lies ever told, second only to “if it rains on your wedding, it’s good luck!” Not only can the dress be expensive, but it is also difficult (maybe impossible) for brides to find one that each one of their ‘maids legitimately likes wearing.
That’s where rentable bridesmaid dresses come in, allowing you to look great on the big day without the hassle of paying full price for a dress you probably won’t wear again and don’t have room for in your closet in the first place.
In the end, it’s the bride’s decision. So I spoke to Union Station and Vow to be Chic, two innovative startups offering affordable rental dress options, who offered up some tips on how you can convince your bride to rent.
1. They Cost Less
The average rental price for a bridesmaid dress is anywhere between $75 and $120, a significant discount from the average $300 spent on a bridesmaid dress after alterations.
“Money is often a major point of dissension amongst wedding parties,” says Ashley Ludgood from Vow to be Chic. “To keep the peace, showing your bridal party that you care about their budget and needs can lower tension. Also, brides often want their bridal party wearing gorgeous (read: expensive) dresses, which we make possible even if all of her bridesmaids can’t afford or don’t want to purchase the dress.”
2. They Fit Better
“We talked to hundreds of brides and bridesmaids when drafting our original business plan and the number one thing we consistently heard was ‘I've never needed to alter a dress in my life, EXCEPT for every single bridesmaid dress I've ever bought,’” says Corie Hardee from Union Station. “It seemed almost like a conspiracy to us — why do bridesmaid dresses never fit?”
Since rental dresses cannot be altered, both Union Station and Vow to be Chic allow bridesmaids to choose multiple sizes to be delivered. That way, should they be unsure of their measurements or should a dress run a little small or large, the bridesmaids are guaranteed a great fit.
This also works in the bride and bridesmaid’s favor since finding and ordering a dress often occurs months and months before the actual wedding and sometimes the size you wanted isn’t the size you need. You weight will naturally fluctuate during that time span, so having options is definitely key, rather than stressing out about more alterations last minute.
3. They’re Flexible
Though most bridesmaid dresses are never worn again, Union Station and Vow to be Chic offer options for the few exceptions to the rule, with dresses available for purchase or rent.
“It’s great because we can easily help a bridal party with differing needs,” explains Ludgood. “If some of your bridesmaids want to rent, but one bridesmaid needs special alterations or sizing, we can help everyone.”
4. They’ve Always Got Your Back
“After four years of outfitting bridesmaids we have seen it all. Bridesmaids ordering the wrong dress, the neighbor's dog chewing the box after UPS delivers it. Literally everything,” says Hardee. “If something comes up, we can react fast and get you another dress. We know that brides put a tremendous amount of trust in us and that the value of these dresses aren’t just the price paid. These dresses are one piece of an event they've spent a tremendous amount of time and money planning. We take that trust very seriously.”
Not only do they deal with dress crises, but they also help with managing the bridal party, making sure everyone orders what they need to when they need to.
“Renting online option can ultimately reduce the stress for the bride,” says Ludgood. “When a bride tries to monitor [the bridesmaid dress] process on her own, you can’t imaging the unbelievable hassle she experiences while chasing around her bridesmaids to confirm that they’ve ordered their dresses.”
5. Guys Can Rent Too
Union Station also offers ties and bowties in the same exact colors as the bridesmaid dresses, eliminating yet another thing the bride needs to worry about.
“The most frequent request we received from brides was for ties and bowties in the same colors as our dresses. We've realized literally hundreds of emails from brides saying that it was very difficult to find ties to match,” says Hardee. “Even if you just consider navy — if you buy five different navy items from five different stores every shade will be different. Our mission is to make the entire process easier and we realized we were only solving half the problem — groomsmen were the other half.”
6. And There's Something For The Bride
Vow to be Chic also rents Little White Dresses, perfect for anyone who doesn't want to wear their full-on wedding gown all day and night.
“We have plenty of brides who just come to order a Little White Dress, even ordering multiple for all of their wedding related events. In fact, many brides who have smaller weddings, casual weddings, courthouse weddings, or elopements opt for one of our Little White Dresses as their wedding dress.”
7. They Give Mix-And-Match A New Meaning
“Many brides want to provide their bridesmaids some room to select a dress that fits and suits their personality,” says Ludgood. “However, the bride still wants a gorgeous, cohesive day. We make it easy for the bride and bridal party to have the best of both worlds.”
Not only can bridesmaids find the perfect dress for them, but the bride can also ensure that each color is exactly the same from dress to dress, eliminating any worry that one girl’s version of off-white will clash with another’s.
“This is also our favorite trend as it lets each bridesmaid pick the silhouette that will work best,” explains Hardee. “We've designed [different dresses] to fit different shapes, but women often know which cut they'll like best. It is a great option to make sure everyone is happy in their dress.”
8. It Just Makes Everything Easier
“Many of our brides are millennials, and they are incredibly busy,” explains Ludgood. “They don’t have a ton of time to spend on the bridesmaid dress selection process either. There are so many other pieces to planning a wedding. They want the process to be simple and the dresses to be beautiful.”
“We take this one very difficult task off [a bride’s] plate so they don't have to worry about it,” say Hardee. “Brides can select a dress from us and then make everyone happy by giving her bridesmaids the option to rent or buy. Then once she registers her wedding party, we handle all the logistics to ensure that her bridesmaids have a dress that they feel confident in walking down the aisle.”
So, maybe the next time you get that cute letter in the mail, asking you in all its instagramable-glory to be a bridesmaid, you and your bride will have one less thing to worry about.