Dress For Rent

The search for an ecofriendly wedding dress (with a tight budget) was quite an adventure. I considered three options: renting, buying used, or buying a new, ecofriendly dress.


Source

Mr. PN’s brother got married a couple of years ago to a wonderful woman from Brazil. She wore a gorgeous dress that she rented in Brazil for less than $250! Apparently it is quite common for brides in Brazil to rent their dresses.

I know the idea of renting a wedding dress might sound completely crazy, but to me it made perfect sense. I didn’t plan to keep my dress after the wedding (closet space in NYC is too valuable) and I figured I could rent a beautiful dress for much less than it would cost to buy! Men rent tuxes all the time so why can’t I rent my wedding dress? I also figured that living in the largest city in the country I should be able to find plenty of rental options.


Manhattan (Filled with People & Wedding Shops)

Boy was I wrong. A quick search for “wedding gown rental, NYC” turned up a 2005 article from NY Magazine, Something Borrowed. They listed two NYC stores that rent wedding gowns. I tried calling the first store, MyrJan, to schedule an appointment but they never answered the telephone. I decided that I couldn’t rely on a store that couldn’t answer the phone to provide one of the most visible and photographed wedding details.

Side Note: My dress search began last December. I called MyrJan again today and the phone was busy and their website is not working either.

Moving on…

I did schedule an appointment with the second store the article listed, Fancy Wedding Center, near Coney Island in Brooklyn. My FSIL and my bridesmaid accompanied me on the trip. This was the very first place that I went to try on dresses so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The store was tiny and they gave me a book of pictures to look through. I could choose three pictures from the book and try on those dresses (there was nobody else in the store so I have no idea why the appointment was so limited).

I tried on the three dresses but they were a huge disappointment. They were all way too big and the material was scratchy. On top of this the dresses were not a good value for the product (all over $300), did not include alterations and the rental price only covered three days which wouldn’t work for my destination wedding. I left disappointed and discouraged.

Having exhausted the two options in the area I decided that renting my wedding dress was not in my future…

According to the NY Magazine article, Alexandria’s Formal Gown Rental, based in Sacramento, is a great option for renting gowns in Northern California. They have a $249 Bridal Rental Special package that includes: Bridal gown, veil, tiara, shawl/bridal wrap, petticoat,shoes, bridal jewelry and cleaning! In addition to wedding dresses, Alexandria’s Formal Gown Rental also rents dresses for the bridal party and proms.

t_heade01
Alexandria’s Formal Gown Rental

Am I the only one crazy enough to consider renting my white dress?

Next up, “Plan B: Buyiweng a Previously Loved (aka Used) Wedding Dress”

BLOGGER

Mrs. Pinot Noir

Location:
New York/Napa Valley
Wedding Date:
October 2014
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    H, Guest @ 5:34 pm

    Renting is the norm for us koreans. All korean wedding boutique rent and sell as well, but mostly rent here in LA. They rent the petticoat, veil, shoes, and jewelry all together for a packaged deal. I don’t think it’s weird to rent bc you will never wear the dress again nor any of the other things. If you are sentimental and want to treasure all of that, then buying is fo you.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Katherine, Guest @ 5:35 pm

    I love to buy used & vintage & second hand, etc, clothing, but the idea of renting a wedding dress kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies, honestly. I think it might have something to do with how many superstitions are attached to a wedding.

    If if works for you, though, more power to you! It’s definitely a more cost effective & enviromentally effective option to chose :)

  3. Member
    jenniferb 167 posts, Blushing bee @ 5:40 pm

    I thought about renting too, but I had the same luck as you. The only place I found around me had really really outdated (yet not yet retro cool) dresses that were more for costumes than for waering on you weddign day.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    andrea, Guest @ 5:45 pm

    Nope! I considered it, but I too am having a destination wedding and it just wasn’t worth the hassle. I bought my dress on ebay.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Raeann, Guest @ 5:46 pm

    “If there are no options in big ‘ole NYC, there won’t be any for me here in dowdy Sacramento,” I thought.

    Thank you!!! You just made my day.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    pandamonium, Guest @ 5:56 pm

    If you are going to spend $300 on a rented dress, why not just buy an inexpensive one? you can def find a dress under $300, and then it would be yours to keep and sell again when you’re done if you want!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    A, Guest @ 5:57 pm

    A lot of my family has always rented their white dress because it’s one of at least 3 they’ll use–in the Vietnamese tradition, the one that matters most is the red ao dai, and they usually change into the white dress for the receiving line at the reception, then AGAIN into a “cake cutting” dress that they usually party in for the rest of the night. However, I think if it’s your main dress, there are plenty of options when looking for used gowns, and wish I knew about Brides for Breast Cancer events!

  8. Member
    callalillies 107 posts, Blushing bee @ 6:00 pm

    i’m getting my dress custom made and am renting it. there’s a lot of korean places that’ll do that for you. if you find a dress that fits, you can just rent that one. i’m sure there’s some in NYC.

  9. Member
    greentea 765 posts, Busy bee @ 6:03 pm

    before going through the whole dress shopping ordeal, i was set on renting. that was until i found out it was as rough as you described! alexandria’s, if i recall correctly, have the WEIRDEST HOURS, they also never answer the phone. maybe i should have tried harder, at least they are in my town. but like you said, i try to stay away from vendors who are not easy to work with or can be easily contacted!

    perhaps we should open up a dress rental place, since there’s obviously a market out there and the competition is scarce! all we’d have to do is FRIGGING ANSWER THE PHONE and people will choose us over all the others! ;)

  10. Member
    pinotnoir 799 posts, Busy bee @ 6:13 pm

    @pandamonium: I thought I could rent a great/expensive dress for less (instead of buying cheap). Also, this was not only an economic decision but also a green one. I really wanted to “reduce” by using a dress that wasn’t new and would also be used by others… Keep reading to find out about my next adventure, buying used.

    @Miss Green Tea: I would love to go into business with you. I think there is a good market for this!

  11. Member
    espresso 1308 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:14 pm

    HAHA Green Tea- sounds like an easy enough job. I can answer phones :) And seriously- if you add in all of our dresses- we already have merchandise

    Pinot I never thought of renting my dress- but only because I didn’t know it was possible. I love my new dress and am so happy with it- but had I come upon the perfect vintage number- I would have grabbed it in a heartbeat

  12. Member
    frenchbulldog 1088 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:21 pm

    I don’t think you’re crazier either, one of my dearest friends is considering renting a dress from somewhere in LA (Los Angeles, not Louisiana) b/c she is trying to save as much money as possible to buy a house.

  13. Member
    frenchbulldog 1088 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:22 pm

    @Miss Green Tea: Laughing my arse off @ ANSWER THE FRIGGIN PHONE!

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    MissyJenn, Guest @ 6:33 pm

    I think it makes perfect sense to rent. You’re only going to wear it for one day and then what are you going to do with it? Keep it in the closet until your daughter might want to wear it? It’ll probably be out of style by then.

    Similarily (if that’s even a word), I don’t understand the concept of “trashing the dress.” You pay so much for it and then you’re willing to go to a beach and get it dirty??

    I don’t know what I will do when it comes to be my turn. Renting does seem like an option but who’s to say if I change my mind?

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Jenny, Guest @ 7:13 pm

    I would suggest going to an Asian-owned wedding/bridal store in your area. As a lot of ladies mentioned, it is the norm for many Asian cultures to rent bridal gowns.

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Erin, Guest @ 7:18 pm

    I also tried to rent and gave up after having even less luck. I could locate only one rental place in my state, and it is 2 hours away. :(

    I purchased a used gown (salon sample) – I figure reuse is the next best thing to reduce ;)

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    leslieb, Guest @ 8:45 pm

    I bought my dress off Ebay! Call me crazy but I saw what I wanted online and found it on Ebay for half the price. If your wanting to pay $300 on a wedding dress I suggest Ebay all the way!!

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    jtg, Guest @ 8:47 pm

    I’d rent if rental places really existed. I’ve never understood the notion of spending so much money to only stuff a dress in a closet for the rest of your life.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah Tollefson, Guest @ 9:34 pm

    I also picked mine right off the rack for $300! It barely needs any alteration and is gorgeous. I would keep your eyes on the sale rack and you can probably find something that will work for you. Especially if you have a little bit of time until your wedding! I got mine in November and I’m getting married in three weeks! Good luck!

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    Elizabeth England, Guest @ 9:53 pm

    As a Sacramento bride, I was so excited to hear about Alexandria’s…until my appointment. The store was crowded, smelly, and hot. And there was only one other customer in there. The girls working there didn’t know who I was, even though I had an appointment, and all the dresses were very outdated, stained, dirty, etc. I would NOT recommend them. I went to Bridal Etc. in Roseville, where I found a fabulous gown for $400!

  21. Guest Icon Guest
    ebyokuri, Guest @ 11:43 pm

    I’m the MOH in my friends wedding and we went to Alexandrias. We did have a hard time initially getting an appt because we kept callilng and leaving messages for the owner to call us back and she never did. We finally got a hold of her by chance to make an appt.
    When we got there though, we had excellent customer service, but we went during the weekday when it was slow. The bride found one dress that she liked but we didn’t find any appropriate dresses for the bridal girls. They looked horrible. I think the owner has a great idea but she needs to get more modern/current bridal and bridesmaid dresses. I wouldn’t get your hopes too high if you go there. I would suggest calling asian bridal shops in your area. If you do plan to go to Alexandrias, make it a day and call asian bridal shops in Sacramento to see what they have to offer. Good luck! btw, the bride didn’t get her dress from there. she just went and bought one instead.

  22. Guest Icon Guest
    michelle, Guest @ 12:23 am

    I’m an eco wedding planner so I love following your posts and keeping up with all of your adventures. I would recommend buying vintage. Two places I can think of are http://www.poshgirlvintage.com and cherishedbride.com. You can also find some great vintage finds on etsy.com such as,

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13494917

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13464576

    or some etsy sellers use organic materials like, http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=10810537

    if you still want to go the designer route but feel guilty spending money on something that is going to take tons of eenergy to reproduce for something you will wear for less than 24 hours than I would recommend buying used from http://www.oncewed.com or http://www.preownedweddingdresses.com

    good luck and hope this helps! make sure to check out my site! http://www.greenlilyevents.com :)

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    Guilty Secret, Guest @ 2:38 am

    I think it’s a great idea. I intend to sell my dress after our wedding and hope whoever has it next will do the same. You could call this a kind of renting if we each get some of the money we paid back!

    I think it’s sad that so many women keep beautiful dresses in boxes… let go and let someone else enjoy it and stop another one being needlessly produced too!

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Bertie, Guest @ 4:14 am

    Here in Brazil we also have something called First Rent: you have the dress custom made for you, exactly the way you want, and after the wedding you send it back to the place it was made and they rent it to other brides, making the required adjustments for them. The price is ultra-affordable and you get to wear your perfect dress! Also, the price paid by the subsequent brides is quite cheap. I think some very smart+loaded entrepreneur should take this idea and make it happen there! For what I can see, there is demand for it!

    I truly hope you can find your perfect dress, Miss PN! And hope someone starts a profitable business with this rental idea! :-D

  25. Member
    MelissaB 438 posts, Helper bee @ 10:42 am

    Miss Pinot Noir and Miss Green Tea, if you start this business, I’ll totally invest in it! :-) You could purchase lovely new or secondhand gowns and sell or rent them to eco-conscious brides. I think it would make money.

    I was just in England, and it seems that a new trend there is “Oxfam Brides” — women who buy their dresses secondhand from the charity shop Oxfam. What a great idea!! The charity makes money, Bride 1 gets a tax write-off, and Bride 2 gets a great pre-loved dress for a bargain price. It’s similar to Brides Against Breast Cancer, except that there are tons of Oxfam shops all over the UK and you don’t have to wait for the sale to come to your area to take part.

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    Coin, Guest @ 4:13 pm

    I’m from Northern California and I thought renting a wedding dress sounded like a great idea. Not so much in practice, it turns out.
    Alexandria’s was the just about the only place I could find and it was… not good. Their dresses were very cheap looking and they didn’t have very many styles, despite what it says on their website. All the stuff they advertise as renting with the dress was crappy too. Plastic jewelry, plastic tiara, plastic shoes. Seriously, big clear plastic platforms, gah. And they tried to spray me with aerosol glitter and wouldn’t let us take a picture of any of the dresses to compare later at home.
    Sorry about the rant but I went to 4 different places looking for wedding dresses and Alexandria’s was BY FAR the worst.
    I still think renting a dress would be cool if there was a decent place to get it from.

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    L, Guest @ 3:45 pm

    Go to The Bridal Garden in NYC. It’s a not for profit resale bridal boutique benefiting children’s charities. Get your perfect dress, help NYC kids and get a tax write-off :)

    http://www.bridalgarden.org

  28. Member
    pinotnoir 799 posts, Busy bee @ 6:03 pm

    @Coin: I’m so sorry to hear about your experience at Alexandria’s. I’ve only read reviews so it is good to have a real perspective!

    @L: I did go to the Bridal Garden and I will be reviewing it in my next post!

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs B, Guest @ 4:10 pm

    Hey ladies! Having worked YEARS in the retail bridal industry, I can tell you that many, many bridal designers and manufacturers will not allow retailers to rent their gowns to brides. They require their retailers to sign contracts against renting and also many times selling online (so as not to be caught up in the web of internet discounting).

    If I could find a bridal company with great quality that would allow it, I’d start this rental business with a quickness! I guess that’s why most stores who do rent have lower quality gowns. =(

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    Toni L, Guest @ 8:50 am

    @Mrs B:
    Hi- I am planning to open a Rental Bridal Upscale Salon in Fairfield County Connecticut- There are many creative ways to get upscale gowns for a fraction of the price.

    What I found out, the more upscale the clientele, the more they want to save money, especially in this sad state of economic woes–

    The key to this bridal rental is first location, marketing, and most importantly having a talented tailor/seamstress.

    There are a lot of bridal rental places in the South, yet does it make sense to spend so much money on a dress you can only wear once???

    Men don’t think twice about renting tux for HIS special day, so why should women spend thousands for HER day??

  31. Guest Icon Guest
    The Dress Search Concludes » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog, Guest @ 1:15 pm

    [...] I tried to rent my wedding dress, and then I looked for a used wedding dress. I was getting a little discouraged, and I began [...]

  32. Guest Icon Guest
    Luxe for Rent » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog, Guest @ 1:32 pm

    [...] Pinot Noir has posted about the difficulty she experienced finding gowns for rent here in the States. The other day, [...]

  33. Guest Icon Guest
    A Dress Fit for a Pinot » Weddingbee » The Wedding Blog, Guest @ 12:14 pm

    [...] about my dress so I wanted to give you all the details. As you might remember, I really wanted to rent my wedding dress or buy a used dress. I just couldn’t get on board with spending such a crazy amount of money on [...]

  34. Guest Icon Guest
    juliec, Guest @ 6:37 pm

    I wasn’t able to find a dress for rent that I liked so I actually purchased one I loved and fit me perfectly. However, to recoup some of the cost (both in terms of money and “carbon”) I now rent my dress out to others like minded people on RentNotBuy.com

  35. Guest Icon Guest
    Candace, Guest @ 4:58 pm

    These days, in this economy, I would think that there would be wedding dress rental businesses popping up everywhere. After all, if you can rent a christmas tree, why not a wedding gown? So, hey if you are looking to start your own business in NYC, you may want to buy some rental software and go to town!

  36. Guest Icon Guest
    farwa, Guest @ 6:52 pm

    well..i m getting crazy too…i want to rent a dress and people are telling me i cant do that in usa

  37. Guest Icon Guest
    Suzanne, Guest @ 9:36 am

    Please help if you can! I live in New York City. I have a preserved 10 year old Marissa wedding gown size 13 taken in a few times…simply a beautiful gown delicate crystals on the sweetheart top and a bit more on the bottom of the gown…What can I do with this gown I would like to get rid of it and hopefully someone else will dance their feet off like I did in it!! Help!!

  38. Guest Icon Guest
    mel, Guest @ 5:53 am

    hi ladies

    please help

    i am getting married in new york april 2013 and would like to rent a dress, am having no joy with the shops listed above, did you go into business? or know of anywhere that can help me, im getting married in central park :-) mel in engalnd

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