I have been a bridesmaid enough times to know that the traditional bridesmaid dress process is, to put it mildly, totally broken. It’s not the matchy-matchiness that’s so bad. I actually think that part can make things way easier. But something is definitely amiss when the expectation is that it’s totally cool to spend two hundred (and often more) American dollars on an ill-fitting dress, that undoubtedly will need alterations (read: $$$), and that under no circumstances will you ever wear again.
It’s not that there aren’t alternatives. Online dress shopping and rental bridesmaid dresses have been around for ages. But any time I suggest them to my more traditionally minded friends, this is the reaction I get:
And I get it. New things are scary, and no one wants to gamble on an expensive, important event like their wedding. Which is why we’ve partnered up with Union Station, purveyor of gorgeous bridesmaids dresses you can rent starting at just $50, to dispel the common myths about renting bridesmaid dresses. Because if we can make it work for dudes in tuxes, surely we can do better for bridesmaids in dresses.
Myth #1: it won’t look good. Here’s the thing about Union Station. They aren’t here to redefine bridesmaid dresses as we know it. They just want to make the process better. So they started with traditional bridesmaid dresses in mind, and then they set out to create the Holy Grail: a set of designs that would fit lots of different body types, without needing alterations. They used a wide range of fit models (instead of just one), putting every design to the test, and then only picked the absolute best of the best. And y’all, they killed it (I will take this one-shoulder piece for myself, kthanksbye). We’ve actually had the chance to touch and feel Union Station dresses for ourselves (that’s a pic from an APW tutorial above), and they are as good or better than anything I’ve ever bought from a bridal salon.
Myth #2: It won’t fit. Union Station understands that peace of mind is at a premium when it comes to wedding planning. So to start, they’ve created this handy fit guide to help you figure out which style will work best with your body. And to ensure a perfect fit, they’ve outfitted each dress with lots of handy features like flexible waists, tie belts, and (gasp) straps. Plus they even include a backup size with every order, and you have the option to switch with another member of your wedding party if her backup works better. So if you’ve got five bridesmaids, that’s ten dresses to choose from. Still not working out? No problem. If you’re really in a bind, for an extra $25 Union Station will send a whole new dress to you in time for the wedding (not to worry though; that happens about 3 percent of the time).
Myth #3: Renting Online Is too much of a gamble. In theory, buying a dress in store should be more secure. But in practice, my experience has been more like the following: 1. Go into the store, try on a sample dress that kind of fits, give them my measurements to order one in my actual size. 2. Make sure I do this at least three months before the wedding or else I might not get it in time. 3. Receive the dress a few weeks before the wedding. 4. Scramble at the last minute to get it altered. Realize I forgot to research good tailors in my area. Take it to my dry cleaner and hope for the best (or let’s not pretend I haven’t just worn an ill-fitting dress sans alterations because who cares I’m never wearing it again). With Union Station, you still get your dress at least two weeks before the wedding, but they have virtually eliminated the need for alterations (they even offer two different length options). Which means that most of their customers are good to go out of the box. And if you’re one of the 3 percent mentioned above? There’s time to make it work, and they will do everything in their power to ensure it does. Union Station manufactures everything locally, so they have the ability to act quickly and solve your problems ASAP.
Myth #4: It’s easier to buy. The best part of buying dresses online is that it doesn’t matter where you live, or if your wedding party is strewn all over the country. You can register your party, and then Union Station will make sure everyone orders for the right date, gets the right dress, actually places their order (ahem, Maddie). But what Union Station does differently is that they give you the option to rent or buy. Because it’s totally valid to just want to buy a dress and know it’s yours (maybe you actually will wear that cocktail length number again). But it’s also nice to be able to give your besties the option to spend $50 and not buy. Their dresses cost just $50–$75 to rent, and $150–$185 to buy. Which, for the record, is definitely less than I paid for my last bridesmaid dress, before alterations.
One of the most frustrating aspects of planning a wedding is having to buy into antiquated systems just because they’re familiar. Because you know who usually loses out in that process? (Hint: It’s you.) So if you’re looking for an easy alternative to traditional bridesmaid dress shopping, but still want the convenience of letting your wedding party shop in one place or coordinating dresses, then rentals might be just the solution you’re looking for. And if you’re still getting side-eye, then maybe these examples from real Union Station weddings will help sway the naysayers:
Featuring: The Jane Dress in Iris
This post was sponsored by Union Station. Union Station was created to make the bridesmaid dress shopping process less stressful and more affordable. They believe that, above all, your bridesmaid dress should make you feel good: about how you look, about the price you’re paying, and about the process itself. Click here to get three free swatch samples and see their quality for yourself.