The best wedding dress rentals: How to hire your outfit for the big day

Why not make your ‘something borrowed’ your frock? We’ve found the perfect places to shop

Rosie Conroy
Monday 03 May 2021 06:00
<p>Renting instead of buying a wedding dress means you can have a designer gown at a snip of the price</p>

Renting instead of buying a wedding dress means you can have a designer gown at a snip of the price

With the average cost of getting married setting couples back nearly £32k according to the wedding website Hitched, wedding dress hire could be one way to help keep costs down. While there’s an undeniable romanticism associated with finding “the one” (the dress, that is) there’s also nothing that warms the heart quite so much as having cash in the bank. Plus, if you’re not the sentimental type it’s the ideal service to ensure you avoid sacrificing space in your wardrobe for something you’ll never wear again. 

We’re going to go out on a limb and say if you’re the indecisive type, wedding dress hire is actually the best option for you. With generally fewer choices things are really narrowed down on most wedding dress rental sites, and the curated collections of designer gowns mean you won’t spend days on end at different shops weighing up the pros and cons of endless dresses.

There really are options for everyone when it comes to wedding dress rentals too, with some places offering online services only, and others providing an in-person experience at boutiques across the country. The latter means you still get that fun, fairytale moment of trying on different options and saying ‘yes to the dress’ without having to dig too deep. Some in-person boutiques also offer fitting services, which means your dress will be tailored to your frame for a perfect silhouette.

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Wedding dress rentals aren’t just ideal for the main event either, you could plump for occasions around your big day. For instance, if you’re having a pre-party the day before you might want a lower-key option but still fancy a luxury label, or maybe you want something to change into once the main events of the day are over.

Whatever the reason you’re looking for a wedding dress rental, we’ve gathered together the best nine brands that we trust to treat you right.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

My Wardrobe HQ

Having seen a 600 per cent growth in bridal rentals since last year, it’s safe to say that My Wardrobe HQ’s upscaling of its wedding gowns section hit at the perfect time. Sadie Mantovani, creative director of the brand, attributes the success to the shifting attitudes of people during the pandemic, as well as it acting as a practical lifeline for lots of brides facing rearranging their day around the dreaded “p” word. “With many weddings being postponed or cancelled, we offer brides an easy option which allows for last-minute changes,” she says. Aside from this many consumers are also pleased with lowering their environmental impact, with the service thought to extend the life of each garment by up to fifteen times. For an item that is traditionally worn once, that makes all the difference.

Stocking top designers like Savannah Miller and Charlie Brear, hiring a dress from My Wardrobe HQ starts from under £10, and it stocks a range of sizes. It also offers bridesmaid and flower girl dresses as well as accessories, so can sort you out from top to toe.

By Rotation

While you might have heard of – or even used – popular designer rental site By Rotation, did you know that it also does wedding dress hire? The team has seen the number of brides renting its dresses grow by six times throughout lockdown, and with £10,000 wedding dresses hiring from £1000 a day, it’s easy to see why that might be the case. Dream dress at 10 per cent of the cost? Seems like a no brainer.

Listed designers include Jenny Packham and Cecilie Bahnsen and even founder Eshita’s own wedding gown is up for grabs. Plans are in the pipeline to have a studio where customers can organise fittings to see dresses in real life before they commit to hiring one. There is also a range of accessories on the app to complete your outfit with. You’ll have to download the app and create an account (which is free) before you peruse, but if after that you get lost down the rabbit hole for hours and end up with four wedding looks, don’t blame us.

Hurr

With more than 200 bridal styles to choose from, high fashion dress rental site Hurr has an inclusive policy when it comes to dressing for your big day. Anyone can sign up to the app to either rent their own dress or hire from someone else, and Hurr stocks sizes from a size 6 through to a size 24. Customers can rent items for either four, eight, 10 or 20 days, which gives you the flexibility to have your chosen dress for a few days before and a few days after your wedding, ensuring you’re not rushing around with admin when you should be soaking up that just-married feeling.

With a pop up in Selfridges, you can also browse some of Hurr’s items in real life if you’d prefer. While lots of the outfits are rented by customers, there are also dresses listed by designers themselves too – so the collection is split between peer-to-peer and managed items.

W Wedding

W Wedding is one of the very few dedicated London bridal boutiques that offer a rental option, and with that you get a few plus points that apps can’t compete with. The service is appointment based in north London, and that means you still get that fun experience of trying on lots of dresses and taking some friends or family along for the fun. Included in the price you’ll also be able to have the dress tailored to fit you, which means everything will be picture perfect while you’ll still be saving some pennies. Prices for hire dresses range from £260 – £450, and W Wedding also gives a 10 per cent discount to NHS staff, something it is – quite rightly – very proud of.

Dresses here aren’t by big names, but are instead made on a bespoke basis for the boutique by the boutique’s team in Taiwan. Not only does this mean you get a unique wedding dress rental, but it also means costs can be kept down.

The Bridal Gallery

When the owner of The Bridal Gallery, Agata Kowalczyk, first brought her business model of wedding dress rentals to the UK 16 years ago there was nothing like it on the market here. Already a popular option in countries like Japan and Agata’s native Poland, she wanted to be able to give brides their dream dress without them having to worry about the big price tag that is usually associated with said dream. With an average gown costing between £300-£500 to hire, this is a significantly cheaper option to owning your dress, yet hiring a gown from The Bridal Gallery comes with a similar process. You’re able to visit the boutique to try on a range of dresses then, if you find the one, the team will alter it to fit you perfectly. Typically dresses are collected (or couriered to you) two days before your wedding and delivered back to the shop two days afterwards, with special arrangements possible for longer rentals if needed. With a huge range of styles and sizes, the team here is passionate about finding you your dream dress. There are package options too, should you wish to hire a wedding dress along with shoes, a veil and jewellery for instance.

Our Moire

Our Moire manages to combine the ease of in-app shopping with the special feeling you get from finding your wedding dress in a boutique. Using the website you can select the dress or dresses you’d like to try, and then the team at Our Moire will have them delivered to bridal alterations company Bride & Alter in London. You’re able to book an appointment – taking your bridal party along – to make sure you love the dress (or pick your favourite one) and then the team will alter it to fit your frame.

While some of Our Moire’s dresses are offered by brides personally, lots of its gowns come directly from designers. That means that perhaps the dress was worn for a photo shoot or runway show and is now being hired out for a snip of the price it would cost to buy it. Sizes run through from a 6 to 16 and start from £8 per day to hire. The range of dresses covers everything from low key bridalwear to high-end designer dresses, with the retail value of items being anything from £150 – £12,000.

Girl Meets Dress

Browse, order, party, return – that’s the Girl Meets Dress process in a nutshell. The website is simple to navigate and there’s a dedicated wedding dress section (as well as bridesmaid, wedding guest and even honeymoon edits). Sizes currently stocked run from a size 6 through to a size 16 and some dresses are offered in multiple sizes.

You can choose whether you’d like to hire dresses for between two and seven nights, and if you need a hand deciding on your outfit for the big day you can speak to the dedicated Girl Meets Dress stylists who are on hand to advise on everything from design to fit. We also like that Girl Meets Dress offers a try-on service where, for £30, you can have a selection of dresses sent to you to try on before you decide on your final choice.

Etsy

Okay, hiring a wedding dress from Etsy isn’t exactly conventional, but if you’re reading this article in the first place we’re willing to bet a thing or two on you not being worried about conforming. Just because something isn’t traditional doesn’t mean it’s any less special, and we love the idea of supporting small businesses which typically list on Etsy.

Etsy has a small range of wedding dress rental listings, which are mostly shipped from the US. The process to hire is similar to any Etsy purchase, where you simply browse the items, decide on your favourite options and order it in your size. Usually, returns are on you to organise, so that’s just something to factor in if you’re planning on jetting off straight after your wedding.

Something Borrowed Bridal

Owner Alyson dreamed up Something Borrowed Bridal after realising that she wanted to help other people feel how she felt in her dream dress. With her wedding gown tucked up in a box, only to be remembered through photographs, she spotted a gap in the market to give dresses a whole new lease of life through rentals. Based in Essex, this small studio gives you a really personal touch.

There’s a large range of designer dresses available to hire so that you can feel like a princess without splashing (too much of) the cash. As well as giving you a more affordable option for a wedding dress, hiring your gown also means you don’t need such a long lead time. Traditionally you’d purchase your dress way ahead of time to be able to have it made and fitted in time for your day, but Something Borrowed Bridal’s service allows you to walk away with your dress after a first appointment if you need to. Now that’s service.

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For the latest discounts on occasion-wear and other women’s clothing offers, try the links below:

We’ve also found the best high street wedding dress brands to shop for the big day

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