So it's wedding season and you're beginning to feel like that girl in the picture that circulated around social media last winter when every bride-to-be mistook the holidays for some made up thing called "Engagement Season."
Look. I hear you. Even as a wedding photographer who really, truly loves a good wedding, I sympathize. Weddings are expensive! But you're also super chic and wouldn't dare wear the same dress twice to the million weddings you're about to attend this summer. I get that, too. I, too, have a million girlfriends who are getting married on what seems like the same weekend in June, and while I am over the moon happy for them, I'm also wondering how the heck I'm going to be able to afford buying a new dress for each.
Which is why I decided to try renting a dress from Rent The Runway for one of my best gal's nuptials in Mystic Connecticut last month. Here's how it works:
Rent the Runway offers two different options when it comes to renting from their inventory.
Unlimited // (For the gal in the red vest.)
Rent the Runway offers an unlimited option that allows you to pay a monthly fee of $139.00 (you can cancel at any time) for three different pieces every month and you can even control how long you keep the piece, whether it's a weekend or 6 months. This option comes with free shipping, the clothes are insured, and when you're ready, you can exchange 1, 2 or 3 of the items for something new. This option is best for the wedding guest that has a couple of weddings to attend each month. And remember, you can cancel at any time so as soon as wedding season has slowed down, you don't have to keep the subscription.
One Time Renter // (For everyone else.)
If you haven't taken a picture like the girl in the red vest, than this option is probably best for you, and this is the option that I chose.
I spent a solid hour scrolling through the different dresses and using the "My Hearts" feature to favorite the dresses I liked. The dresses are separated into categories, and while I'd say the wedding I attended wasn't technically "black-tie," I've always preferred a longer dress so I chose to peruse the "Gowns."
This Badgley Mischka neutral stripe gown immediately caught my eye. It's not something I would normally choose (I'm usually an all-black kind of gal) but that's the best part about RTR! You can rent something more unique because you won't have to worry about the dress sitting in the back of your closet with that sweater your mom bought you for Christmas three years ago with the blue sparkles on it. (Er. Sorry, mom.)
So let's talk about sizing, which, in my opinion, is essential to being able to feel comfortable enough to rent a dress. Most of the dresses come in regular, petite, and long. Since I'm only 5'1' (my grandma has officially shrunk to 4'8' at 80 years old. I'm screwed.) I looked for dresses that came in a petite, but of course, the one I wanted only came in regular or long. I was a bit apprehensive to pull the trigger at first but the GREAT thing about RTR is that they'll send you an additional size for free AND they have a section for EACH dress that shares images and reviews from customers that have rented the dress in the past. Most of the time, the girls share their size and their opinions on whether or not the dress is "true to size." This feature allowed me to feel way more comfortable about renting the dress.
What also made me feel more comfortable about renting the dress was that I got to try it on. RTR has a few physical locations and I happen to live down the street from the Georgetown store (which they conveniently share with Birchbox) in Washington DC. (They also have a bunch in New York, one in Chicago, and another in Vegas.) You can book a 45 minute appointment and meet with a stylist for a fee, or you can just walk in. I chose to walk in and lucked out that the dress I wanted was in the store. Not all of the dresses and sizes they have online (they have thousands) were in the store, but I was able to try it on to get a better idea of the fit. They also have heels for you to try on to get a better idea of the actual length.
I ended up going with the Badgly Mischka, and even though it was a bit more than what I wanted to spend, I was so excited that, for once, I had chosen to wear something other than ALL black. And not all of the dresses are as expensive as that one- there were plenty of cocktail dresses in the $60-100 range that I would have been just as pleased with. (But sometimes a girl's gotta splurge.)
I rented the dress for 4 days although there is also an 8 day rental if you need it a bit longer (think destination weddings.) The wedding was on a Saturday so I chose to have the dresses (remember, they give you two sizes for the price of one!) shipped on Thursday since it was an out-of-town wedding. Both came right on time and in mint condition. The 2R was very tight (I'm usually a 4 but was worried about the length) and the 4R fit JUST right. And when I say JUST right, I mean that I stayed away from drinks that might make me bloat the day of the wedding. It never ended up being a problem and I danced (and drank wine) the night away. I also got a TON of compliments. Like, more compliments than I had ever received on anything I've ever worn- even one of the waitresses at the venue gave me the nod. I really felt beautiful, and to me, that was most important!
Sending the dresses back was a breeze! The box comes with a large bag that is pre-stamped and ready to be dropped off at a UPS store or drop-box location on your return date. I received an e-mail as soon as RTR got my package a day or so later, and overall, I felt really great about my experience. I will definitely be renting from them again!
Does your date need a suit? Check out my post and style guide for The Black Tux!