Rent The Runway: Wedding Dresses

If men can rent wedding tuxes, we sure as hell can rent wedding dresses.

Giles Pegasus Gown ($498)

Whatever you choose to wear on your wedding day, it will be something you’ll want to hold onto, treasure, pass on to your (possibly imaginary) future daughter.

Record scratch.

Right. Or not. Sure, yes, maybe you can afford/lucked into an heirloom-quality gown. Maybe you’re an emotional person and are going to hang on to that sundress you wore till the day you die. But maybe… you’re just not. Known otherwise as: If men can rent wedding tuxes, why can’t women rent wedding dresses? Or, more precisely, why can’t women rent designer wedding dresses made of SPARKLES?

One of the most charming characteristics of my wedding dress is that it was made out of this fake David’s Bridal taffeta that feels oddly like windpant material. I love it because it speaks to how old we were when we got married (hint: young and broke). But also? That dress has spent almost five years balled up in a David’s Bridal garment bag, unwashed and uncared for. Sure, it’s my wedding dress, but I’m never going to have that movie moment when my daughter takes it out of the closet and marvels at how beautiful and timeless it is. I’m fine with that. (She can have the pleather jacket I bought at Wet Seal to wear over my wedding dress, and which is now hung with care in my closet.) If I had it to do all over again with the same budget? I’d go for broke and rent the fanciest, most expensive designer dress I could find, and take some glamorous ass pictures. I mean, the wedding industry is foisting the princess narrative on us at every turn, so why not just cave and go Cinderella? Glittery and golden, till the stroke of midnight.

For those of you brave enough to go the glass slipper route, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite dresses from Rent The Runway (mostly, because we don’t know of any other awesome rental companies, but tell us if you do). All of them are under $500, and none of them, not one, feels like windpants.

It’s worth noting that Rent The Runway does come with its own challenges. You should have a good idea of your size, and give yourself enough time with your rental to account for fit issues or shipping delays. Also, their plus size selection right now is not awesome (well, save for the sparkly dresses, which are fabulous), but most of their best sellers are available up to a size 16. (And, if you’re going RTR, why not really go for broke and spring for the $20,000 MSRP gown and not the $500 one? Because, LOGIC.)

White & Ivory 1. Purity Gown from Plein Sud ($175) 2. Cold As Ice Gown from Halston Heritage ($110) 3. Snow Mountain Maxi from Yumi Kim ($100) 4. White Out Dress from Mark & James by Badgley Mischka ($100)

Not White 1. Briza Feather Gown from Juan Carlos Obando ($298) 2. Web of Beauty Gown from Bibhu Mohapatra ($400) 3. Jeweled Halo Gown from Badgley Mischka ($125) 4. Florence Gown from Reem Acra ($400)

Sparkly 1. Rolling in the Glitz Gown from Badgley Mischka ($160) 2. Metallic Drizzle Gown from Erin by Erin Fetherston ($115) 3. Award Winner Gown from Badgley Mischka ($150) 4. Silver Sequin Shine Gown from David Meister ($100) 5. Sound the Alarm Gown from Badgley Mischka ($135)

This roundup is not sponsored (we wish), We just aren’t aware of any other fancy gown rental companies besides rtr (and the wedding dress rental stores are…not great). If you have more options for websites or shops that rent wedding dresses or weddingy evening gowns, please leave them in the comments! 

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  • Laura C

    I love this concept and I love so many of the dresses listed here. I bought my dress (60% off, thankyouverymuch), and sometime later I noticed that it’s on Rent the Runway and in the reviews, several women mention having rented it for their own weddings. Which I thought was super cool at the time and now I’m seeing how many great options there are on there.

    • Crayfish Kate

      That dress is gorgeous! Makes me want to have a wedding! :-D

      • Laura C

        When it arrived in the mail, my fiance, who had responded to previous dresses with “I just want you to be happy,” said “considering how much it’s on sale, even if you don’t wear it to the wedding, I’m getting it for you. You should have this.” Which…crazy, because it was still not exactly cheap, but I was like “guess that’s a vote to have it at the wedding.” But I do hope to get some wear out of it afterward, too.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Nummer five (from the sparkly set!) is so hot. I’ve seen it (or it’s near-twin) ALL OVER pinterest on other brides and maids and it looks SO COOL.

  • Amy

    Ohhhhh, that floaty pink number from Reem Acra. I would marry that dress.

    • Laura C

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure the color would wash me the hell out, but it is sooo pretty to look at.

      • Amy

        I didn’t even think about how the color would look on me! Giving it more thought, yeah, I wouldn’t be able to wear it, but I’d totally snuggle with it.

        • Erin Rafferty

          I don’t know, I just looked at (all) the reviews on the dress, and it looks absolutely gorgeous on all the girls, even the pale ones. So ethereal and pretty!!!

    • Amy

      They also make a bridal version of that dress which I tried on when I got married about 5 years ago, it was absolutely gorgeous on, and very soft actually.

  • Fiona

    Why didn’t this become a trend a long time ago??? This is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a LONG time. I totally get the desire to dress up in a ridiculously expensive designer gown for your wedding and never quite got the “I must save my wedding dress because my hypothetical daughter will wear it” mentality.

    Why not save a beautiful veil or piece of jewelry, or something else timeless and get a dress for WAYYY out of your budget for cheap? Count me in!

    • KC

      The hypothetical daughter who may not be anywhere near the same size as you and who will almost certainly be in a different clothing-trend cycle and who might have totally different taste and no matching fabrics will be available by then and…

      Yeah. I think it’s awesome and fun when it happens (the mother-daughter dress, or when the heirloom wedding dress can be refabbed into a new dress, although that carries its own potential issues), but the odds are not in favor. (veils and jewelry: recycled through generations for over a hundred years, though!)

      • I wore my mom’s wedding dress . . . to my high school graduation. I was touched that she offered it, and that it fit with some minor alterations. I enjoyed wearing it when I was 18, but we have very different tastes, and I don’t think I would have felt like myself if I’d worn it for our actual wedding.

        • KC

          That’s really cool that you got to wear it for your graduation!

          It does totally happen for some people for their weddings, too, and that’s great! Just… probably a 1 in 10,000 (or lower?) chance of all the pass-the-dress-along variables working out (having a daughter; daughter getting married; dress not getting damaged/destroyed/lost before that; fit/alterations/location working out; tastes and whatnot being similar enough to make it feasible; etc.), so it seems like something to maybe not *plan* around, if other factors make other options more preferable. :-)

      • Vic Horsham

        Absolutely! My mum’s first wedding to my bio dad was in the late 70s, and she was quite a fashionable lady at the time. We are not talking about a dress that says “timeless”, here! Her second wedding to my soul dad she wore a detachable ivory skirt with a GORGEOUS burgundy and gold emboidered corset and, truly, I would be tempted by the corset with a different skirt. But while I have the same approximate body shape as her, the proportions are all different and I’m also several sizes larger, so that’s never going to happen!

    • Kate V

      Its interesting! I wonder if anyone has any experience with RTR? Has the sizing worked out?

  • JustJen

    I had no idea RTR now carries plus sizes! This is excellent news.

    • Christina McPants

      I was about to leave an angry comment about how RTR doesn’t go above a size 12, but LOOK HOW THE TIME HAVE CHANGED AND I AM SUPER GLAD. Well, my wallet isn’t. But still.

  • Jessica

    omg I just realized you can rent veils and jewelry on RTR! You can rent something like this crazy $945 necklace for $95!?! Done deal.

    • Jessica
      • Amy

        I am a HUGE fan of renting baubles from RTR. I rented a gown for a fancy-dress Oscar party that I hostessed, and I got more compliments on my earrings and bracelet than I did on anything else that night. So when it was time for my sister’s prom — bam! Scored her some pretty jewels of her own for an evening.

        And I adore the colors in that necklace!

      • Annie

        This is SO GENIUS. I am doing this. Check check and check.

    • Winny the Elephant

      Now that is a good idea. I love the beautiful head pieces at BHLDN but there’s no way in hell I’m spend $500 on a comb.

    • Linds

      Just a note, though: I was thinking of renting my jewelry on RTR and I read over their rental agreement and got a customer service rep to confirm. Their insurance only covers minor tears, stairs, slight damage.

      If something happens (i.e. the package is delivered and stolen off your front porch, someone breaks into your hotel room the night of the rehearsal dinner and steals your jewelry, fire, natural disaster, etc.) you’re liable for 200% of the retail price. So that $95 jewelry just became close to $2,000! I’m going to have a chat with my insurance agent because just the possibility of having to shell out that much money makes me nervous.

      • Kay Lee

        200% of the retail price?! That’s insane! I can see having to pay 100%…I don’t like it, but I can see it. But 200%? They’re actively making a profit off of your misfortune. Not cool, company. Not cool.

  • BreckW

    I was also just reading on the RTR website that you can book an appointment at one of their showrooms in NYC to try on dresses in person before you order–pretty cool, especially if you (or someone else *cough* Mom *cough*) is looking for a more traditional dress search.

    ETA: They also have a showroom in VEGAS where you can rent a dress and leave with it RIGHT THEN AND THERE. Sounds like a recipe for the most awesome elopement ever.

    • Alison O

      Ooooh thanks, I was wondering because I have a feeling the dresses that are most appealing to me might actually not look the best on my shape. So it would be good to kill those dreams pre- forking over the (not MSRP, but still big) bucks.

    • Jess

      protip (cause I just did this for my wedding): they don’t have all dresses in all sizes. they have maybe 2, in approx a size 4 and 8ish. as a 6 foot tall lady who wears at 10/12, it was still kinda a crap shoot when i actually rented. BUT it was still super valuable.

      I wore this to get married at city hall right before xmas. loved it. :)

  • emilyg25

    Oh man, I wanted to do this so bad, but I’m petite, so I didn’t think it’d work. :(

  • ItsyBit

    Please someone wear this one! Retail: $2450. Rental: $80 for 4 days, $208 for 8 days.

  • NYC<3

    RTR occasionally has sample sales in NYC where they unload some of their rented dresses. I found my wedding gown for $50 at their sample sale last October (might have been November). It was a long Grecian-style Badgley Mischka dress that I couldn’t even buy at full price becuase it was no longer being produced and was not available in my size. I definitely lucked out because the quality of the dresses are not the same, even for dresses of the same make. For those with patience and a good eye, I highly recommend giving the sample sales a shot – you never know what you’ll find and you may get some dresses for your engagement shots, reception, etc. anyway.

    • Laura C

      Agreed — I haven’t done it but have some friends who have gotten just stunning dresses from the sample sale. And in very good shape, even beaded/relatively delicate dresses.

  • Jess
    • Meg Keene


    • Stephanie Olvey

      Hey! I’m working on a wedding dress rental startup and would love to chat about what it was like to rent your wedding dress! My email is stephanie (at) fortique (dot) com.

  • Annie

    As a short girl, how does renting a long dress from RTR work? I’m assuming you can’t hem so… no gowns for me? :(

    • Jess

      i think you can ask them for fashion tape? which might work for something opaque but not chiffony?

    • Ali

      I’m 5’4″ so not super short, but I did have some trouble with long dresses that I rented as a wedding guest. I had to wear VERY high heels for it to work. They have some dresses in a petite fit, but I wouldn’t count on that.

  • ART

    it’s the Rent-a-Swag of evening gowns…awesome!

    • Winny the Elephant

      some where Tom Haverford is filing a lawsuit!

  • Winny the Elephant

    I could never rent a dress. I eat like a three year old. It would end badly

    • Kay Lee

      This. I would be worried the whole day that something might happen to the dress, and I would be stuck with an unexpected 20k bill. Is there insurance or something on these things?

  • Caitlin_DD

    Ironically, I’m actually hoping to wear my mom’s wedding dress, but if not…!

  • Caroline

    I now want all the occasions to rent a fancy dress.

  • Erin with the dinosaur hat

    Haha, I *also* have a bridal pleather jacket! Mine was part of my Sandra D afterparty getup.

  • ready_set_go

    I really wanted to do this… but (in addition to not having a great plus-size selection), this is pretty much a non-starter if you are 5′ tall and want a long dress. Also they didn’t have much poof, which I totally have a weakness for. But if it is the right fit for some people, I am fully supportive (and also really jealous)!

  • Penny has some great options for Australian ladies.

  • Karen

    Um, you can buy a totally fine wedding gown for less than that and then donate it. I’m all about David’s Bridal. Also, when did APW start ENDORSING the PRINCESS NARRATIVE?!?!

    • Erin Rafferty

      I don’t really think this is an endorsement of the princess narrative… Yeah, she mentions dressing like a full-on Cinderella, but really? The princess narrative is designed to make you spend craploads of money on something that would otherwise only cost a quarter-crapload because you feel like you should because it’s the specialest day EVAR and you’ll never get to feel special again because after you’re married you’re DONE. This is SO outside of the WIC, I love it. You don’t have to blow all your money on a designer dress that will likely rot in your closet, but if you still wish you could go that route, here’s a totally sane and awesome option! You won’t keep it, your daughter won’t wear it, but you’ll look slammin’ in a high-quality, otherwise unattainable dress, and isn’t that what a princess would ACTUALLY want?

      • klic

        “isn’t that what a princess would ACTUALLY want?” = supporting the princess narrative

        • Erin Rafferty

          Or rhetorical use of the offending phrase in a positive/somewhat facetious context…

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  • Stephanie Olvey

    Who else has rented a wedding dress? Has anyone rented a high-end gown?

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