Websites have been popping up lately that provide bridesmaids with what seems like a quick and easy solution to their wedding day woes. These sites offer bridesmaid dress rentals. Not unlike how grooms rent tuxes, the logic behind it is that cash-strapped bridesmaids can save money by borrowing their dress and sending it back after the "I Do."
While it sounds like a great idea, we know a lot about bridesmaids dresses. After some simple investigating, there are definitely risks that these websites are trying to downplay. Read below to find out the very real risks you take by renting a bridesmaids dress instead of buying.
1. Sparse Inventory
When you choose to rent a bridesmaid dress, know that you are going to get slim pickings in regards to colors and styles. While these websites do have styles from popular brands, they don't have as many styles as a store. The reason is simple - it takes a lot of space to store even just one of every size, color, and style dress.
Even if you find a dress you are loving online, you are getting limited color options. A Watters bridesmaids dress we found on a rental website was available in 6 colors. You can order the same dress at Miss Ruby Boutique in 31 colors.
2. Zero Plus Size Options
This was perhaps the most surprising thing we found on bridesmaid rental websites. Most bridesmaids designers offer sizes that range from 0 - 26, including the designers that these websites carry. The Watters dress we found is available for order at Miss Ruby up to a size 24.
The rental? An 18 was the largest size offered, making this process challenging and unfair for curvier bridesmaids.
3. No Alterations Allowed
Alterations are typically necessary when it comes to bridesmaids dresses. Most of the time, dresses need to be altered for a perfect fit. Very few girls get away without any alterations, and even girls measuring exactly into a certain size still may need the straps taken up or a few tweaks for a perfect fit.
Absolutely no alterations are allowed on rental dresses. The rental sites say that 90% of customers have a "perfect fit." Even when sized accurately by professionals, 90% of bridesmaids need some alterations to fit perfect in their dress.
4. Tall Bridesmaids Only
The biggest concern is undoubtedly the length. These websites claim that their "regular length" is perfect for someone 5'1" - 5'5". The regular length dresses are actually made to fit girls up to 5'8" in height so they typically are too long on people who aren't 5'7" or above.
A hem is the most common bridesmaid alteration. Think about it - if a girl who is 5'5" orders the same dress as a girl 5"1", its going to be at least 4" long on the shorter girl. Unless you want your bridesmaids tripping all over themselves down the aisle, purchasing is a better bet than renting.
5. Additional Costs Everywhere
Bridesmaids will come in to our store with a long list of styles they are liking online, only to try them on and hate how they look in real life. These websites offer a "try on" option so that you can test styles out before committing to rent them. However this service costs up to $20 per dress!
From a purely economical standpoint, if you try on 5 styles, decide on one, and then pay the rental fee, you're not saving any money by renting. Plus, what if you don't like any of the styles you try on?
6. Walking on Eggshells at the Wedding
Weddings are the time when the bride, groom, and all their friends can let loose and enjoy the dance floor and (hopefully open) bar. Sure, the rental websites state that normal wear is expected. But because your dress will need to be returned, it will be your job the whole night to keep your dress pristine.
Bridesmaids that buy can have a "who cares?" attitude after pictures are taken. Girls who rent don't have that luxury - They'll be the ones sitting on the sidelines so that they don't tear the hem on the dance floor.
Buying Vs. Renting
Buying a gown from a boutique is an experience best shared with friends. While online shopping is great for Saturday nights on the couch, we think weddings are more special. Buying a dress ensures that you will be the most presentable and most fun version of yourself at your friend's wedding.
Want a bridesmaids dress for a bargain? Visit check out our National Bridal Sale Day Facebook Group for a look at our bridesmaids dresses that are now only $20!
Don't worry, we won't make you pay to try them on!