Variety of wedding dresses on a rack
Courtesy: Adobe Stock via Kaspars Grinvalds

Renting a Wedding Dress vs Buying Pre-Owned

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your big day is choosing your wedding gown, and it could cost a lot of money. Brides often spend around $1,600 on their wedding dresses—so to save money, some are opting for a rental or a pre-owned dress instead. What bride doesn’t want to save money on her dream wedding dress?

With ongoing inflation and supply chain issues, the cost of wedding dresses are rising, so saving money is key in today’s economy. That’s why choosing to rent or buy pre-owned is a no-brainer. Both options can save you money on your dream wedding dress without having to compromise on quality or fit. However, there are benefits (and downsides) to both, so the best thing to do is to compare the two choices.

How Do Wedding Dress Rentals Work?

Before we compare renting a dress to buying one pre-owned, we wanted to break down how a wedding dress rental works. If you do decide to rent a gown, you have a variety of websites to choose from, including:

  • My Wardrobe HQ
  • Rent The Runway
  • Nuuly
  • Rent My Dress
  • Lending Luxury
  • Wedding Dress For Rent

Most of the time, you can choose between a monthly membership fee or a one-time fee to rent the gown—some sites also require a security deposit up front. Then you’ll have a small window of time to have the gown shipped to you so you can decide if it’s the right fit.

If you’ve rented early enough, you may be able to exchange your item for another size before your wedding day, so we recommend choosing a longer return window or ordering two sizes to be safe. Some rental sites send two sizes at once with no extra cost to you.

When the wedding is done, simply pack the dress up and ship it back before the specified return date. However, some websites do require you to steam and clean the dress before returning, so make sure to read the fine print.

Pros & Cons of Buying vs. Renting a Wedding Dress

We did some research and looked into the pros and cons of renting a wedding dress or buying a pre-owned one. This page was last updated in April of 2022.

  Rental Pre-Owned
Cost $200–$2,000 $50–$2,500
Duration Up to 2 weeks Endless, can be sold or kept for future generations
Returns Sometimes, there may be
flexibility to change your
rental if it doesn’t fit or
work outOnce you finalize
your rental, it may be a
tight turn-around to return
(typically 1-2 days)
Varies
Resale No Yes
Alterations Not allowed Yes, any alterations can be made, allowing you to get a perfect fit
Cleaning No need to clean/preserve it Can clean & preserve it
Benefits Great option for destination
weddings (no need to try & pack it or have it wrinkled or potentially lost)
The previous bride typically fixes any flaws or imperfections/cleans the gown before selling

You may receive additions or accessories (bustle, veil, etc.)

Downsides Limited selection compared to buying new or pre-owned

Typically delivers 1-5 days before the big day (so choose your timing wisely)

May have visible wear & tear

Fit will likely not be ideal due to multiple wears and no alterations

May have to pay a damage deposit/fee

No sentimental value & can’t be passed down to family members

Less sentimental value knowing another bride wore it first

The good news is that this decision is totally up to you! Choose whatever you’re comfortable with and what your budget and timeline allow. If you’re still unsure which direction to go, check out these gowns and see how they compare between a rental and pre-owned.

Galina Signature “SWG784” Dress

Galina Sheer Beaded Bodice Organza A-Line Wedding Dress
Via Rent My Dress
  • Retail: $1,099
  • Rent: $299 (4 days) on Rent My Dress
  • Buy: $950 on PreOwned
  • Re-sell: $700 on PreOwned

Oleg Cassini “CWG731” Dress

Oleg Cassini organza dress
Via Poshare

 

Berta “14-20” Dress

Berta "14-20" dress
Via Rent My Dress

No matter what you choose, you’re sure to find something that will make you feel beautiful on your wedding day. If you do decide on a pre-owned wedding dress, be sure to check out our wide selection of more than 18,000 bridal gowns.