Carrie Symonds and the wedding dress rental boom


AAccording to the age-old rhyme “something old, something new”, it is normal for brides to wear “something borrowed” on their wedding day. A gem, maybe. The veil, maybe … or even a pouch. But until recently, that probably wouldn’t be the dress. Although usually only worn once, the wedding dress is often the most expensive aspect of the day, requires the most effort to choose, and is generally tailored to the bride’s measurements.

But in recent years, as concerns about the sustainability of fashion abound, many environmentally conscious brides are opting for a whole new way of thinking. Introducing Bridal Clothing Rental, an alternative that gives people the option of wearing designer items on their wedding day for a fraction of the price. The only problem is that you have to return it afterwards. This is a trend that has been steadily increasing in recent years as the rental fashion continues to take hold – the global online clothing rental market is expected to grow by $ 990million (£ 698million). ) over the next four years.

The financial benefits are obvious when you consider that the average bride spends £ 1,321 on her wedding dress, according to the wedding planning website, Hitched. Renting can save brides hundreds of dollars, giving them the option to spend more of their budget elsewhere, such as on food or venue.

As for environmentalism, that’s a no-brainer when you consider that UK adults only wear 44% of the clothes they own, while around 350,000 tonnes of clothes are landfilled in the UK each year. United. Meanwhile, studies have shown that rental fashion can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of your clothing, with the most significant benefits being achieved with formal clothing (like wedding attire), which is worn less frequently than clothing. casual items.

The latest bride to tap into the growing bridal clothing rental market is the Prime Minister’s wife. On Saturday, May 29, Carrie Symonds married Boris Johnson at Westminster Cathedral in a secretly planned ceremony with just 30 guests in attendance under Covid restrictions. The bride wore an ivory tulle and silk gown by Greek designer Christos Costarellos. The dress sells for £ 2,870; but Mrs Symonds hired it for just £ 45.

Today there are countless fashion rental websites and they are increasingly sought after by brides-to-be. Take Hurr Collective, the rental site that recently partnered with Selfridges to allow buyers to try out potential items before renting them. The website’s bridal edition includes dresses from high-end brands like The Vampire’s Wife and Mother of Pearl, as well as accessories, shoes and handbags. The articles in this pick have grown in popularity among users over the past year, with CEO Victoria Prew saying The independent that the site has seen a 268% increase in bridal rentals in the 48 hours since Symonds married our only Prime Minister.

“Demand is at an all time high right now,” said Prew, noting how the pandemic has strained brides-to-be more than ever. “The idea of ​​paying just £ 150 to wear a dress worth £ 2,000 is still appealing, but especially now. And buyers are proud to do it, too. Very few people are going to wear their wedding dress more than once, so renting one makes perfect sense. ”

Demand has been equally high at By Rotation, a peer-to-peer fashion rental app that has reported an 850% increase in searches for bridal and bridal wear since March 2020. Its selection of bridal wear includes pieces from Stella McCartney and Jacquemus.

Elise Santagelino, 32, married in the second lockdown last year after her planned marriage in Italy was canceled due to the pandemic. She rented a Cecilie Bahnsen dress from By Rotation for her 30-guest micro-wedding.

“I came across this dress just three weeks before the wedding day,” says Santagelino. “It’s such a great idea to be able to rent something so special that can be worn multiple times beyond a single day.”

There are also benefits to being the person who rents their own wedding dress from others, which allows you to get back some of the money you spent to purchase the garment. “My wedding dress is right at the bottom of my wardrobe,” says Hanna Dilley, 38, who wore a £ 4,000 Jenny Packham gown for her wedding in 2015. “I kept the dress and I have thought I’d love to do it again – wear it for a special occasion but nothing came out. Seeing all the hype around Carrie Symonds’ dress made me want to rent mine. I wish I could give to others the opportunity to wear the dress of their dreams.

Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow in “The One With All The Wedding Dresses”

(Netflix / Friends)

“Over the past two years we have seen a sustained interest in wedding dress rentals among our brides, with more and more wedding dress rental services across the UK offering brides a range beautiful, high-end designer dresses for their big day, ”says Sarah Allard, editor-in-chief of wedding planning website, Hitched. “Financial and environmental benefits aside, it’s also a much faster way to find a wedding dress, with many options available within weeks or even the same day.”

It makes sense that the rental of bridal clothing has been an upward trend during the pandemic. Non-essential stores have been closed for most of the past year, depriving brides of a key real-life experience when it comes to preparing for their big days. “It’s part of the joy of buying a wedding dress,” says Robin Weil, founder and CEO of “The pandemic has taken some of the excitement of buying a wedding dress away as there have been restrictions on trying on in front of friends and family alongside a glass of champagne.” So renting a dress online suddenly became a similar experience to buying one.

There are, of course, some who will maintain a certain skepticism when it comes to renting a wedding dress. One concern is that some dresses aren’t sturdy enough to be loaned between brides – maybe the hems will get scuffed or the threads could come loose. This is why rental sites tend to be very selective about the items they promote to brides. Hurr, for example, does not include pieces of white satin or white silk in its bridal editions, or maxi dresses. “Renting bridal clothing has to be strategic,” says Prew. “There are certain materials and styles that are best praised, but not all wedding dresses will last over and over again. We therefore only offer durable and well-made parts.

Then there is the emotional element to consider; if your wedding dress doesn’t belong to you, can it still have sentimental value? Prew explains that modern brides haven’t lost sight of their feelings when it comes to their weddings, it’s just that there might be other things that have become more meaningful to them outside of their marriage. outfit. “People just question traditions and change the way they spend their money,” she explains. “Brides will always want to invest in a number of sentimental items for their wedding, but instead of their dress, it could be a piece of jewelry or a pair of Manolo Blahnik sandals.”

No matter how you choose to spend your money, there is no doubt that rental wedding dresses are on the rise, and if trend predictions turn out to be right, they could soon become the norm rather than the norm. ‘exception. “While brides all have their own reasons to rent their wedding dress, I think it’s a trend we’ll see continue to develop among brides of all ages,” Allard said. “Rental wedding dresses are ideal for any savvy bride who spends smart, always looks classy, ​​and stays hassle-free without compromising on quality or design. Most wedding dress rental companies cover the same sizes as a regular boutique, so there will be something for everyone. “

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