The average American wedding costs nearly $34,000 – and that’s before you embark on the honeymoon! If you’d rather enjoy your wedding day for less than the cost of a new car, there are plenty of cost-cutting techniques you can use. From choosing a discounted off-season venue to styling your own hair, you can easily enter married life without the burden of wedding debt.
One strategy in particular can help you save thousands deals with the wedding dress. Instead of acquiring a $3,000 dress that will hang in your closet for the rest of your life, you can pay just a few hundred, and still look stunning on the day that matters most.
How Does Renting a Wedding Dress Cut Costs?
Just like you wouldn’t buy a new car for a day trip to the beach, you don’t need to buy a brand new wedding dress for one (albeit big) occasion. Gentlemen have been renting formal wear for generations and pocketing the difference—so why shouldn’t you?
Besides, the rental-dress biz is booming, with more options than ever before. Some wedding-dress rental companies even offer packages with a veil, shoes, and accessories so that you can save big from head to toe.
Renting a garment also keeps your money in your pocket in subtle yet important ways. First, you don’t need to pay $200 or more to dry clean the dress; you just wear it and send it back. Second, you don’t have to worry about the often-costly wedding dress preservation process. Most brides only think of dress expenses like alterations, but delicate fabric isn’t cheap to preserve after your wedding is over. Renting eliminates those costs entirely.
How Do I Rent a Wedding Dress?
Wedding dress rental is easiest online. Rent the Runway, for example, is a one-stop shop for brides craving a broad and upscale inventory. Shop for your perfect dress at least three to six months before your big day and expect to pay anywhere between $40 and $800—for garments that would fetch four figures off the rack.
Most sites use a process similar to Rent the Runway’s. You select two sizes of the same dress and can either try them at home or travel to a retail store for a fitting. As your wedding day approaches, UPS delivers your dress for a rental period of four to eight days, depending on your preference. Dry cleaning is handled by the rental company after you return your dress in a pre-labeled package.
Many rental sites even offer 20% off your first order, increasing your savings even further.
Is There a Cheaper Way to Buy?
Okay, you want to own the dress—as an heirloom, to alter later, or maybe to pass on to the next generation. If you’re looking for a money-saving alternative to renting your dress, consider buying a pre-owned wedding gown. Shop online or browse your local consignment shops and vintage clothing stores for a great deal. Some bridal shops even offer pre-owned sections as well.
Just like certified pre-owned cars, these dresses are in excellent condition and can be purchased at a fraction of the cost. There are many perks that persuade brides to buy pre-owned:
- Large selection of gowns
- No alternation restrictions
- No potential damage fees if dress is stained or ripped
- Ability to resell dress for up to 50% of purchase price
Whichever way you go, there’s no doubt that renting a wedding dress or purchasing a pre-owned dress will save you hundreds (or thousands) during your already expensive wedding season. Imagine what you could do with that extra money instead. Spend more on the cake? Take a longer honeymoon? Begin saving for a down payment on a new home? The options are endless.
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