Starting a wedding dress hire service

Hi, I am considering opening a bridal wear hire shop in my local area.  I hope to hire out popular designer gowns at around a third of the retail price.  I would like to know how many of you would consider hiring their wedding dress? I would also offer accessories such as tiaras and veils in with the hire charge.  There is little competition in this area. I have only found one other company online who does this.  Look forward to hearing your thoughts. 


  • GinAndBlingGinAndBling Posts: 1,311 New bride
    I think the difficulty you will have is alterations. Most (if not all) dresses will need some sort of alterations. 

    Accessories however I would love. It would’ve been great to hire a belt etc. 
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  • KittyFiennesKittyFiennes Posts: 975 New bride
    I thought about hiring a dress.  My venue (in Vegas) offers dress hire for £300-400.  I opted to buy instead, because for that can! Between Etsy, sample sales, FB marketplace, charity shops, and off-the-peg retailers like David's Bridal and Wed2B, you can get a new or nearly new designer gown or look-alike designer gown for the same price as renting. And like @GinAndBling noted, if the dress is yours, you can get the alterations you need for it to fit perfectly. As it turns out, the place that was going to rent me my dress had few to no dresses even in my size.  I would have been walking around in a dress hanging off of my body like a bin liner.

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,942 New bride
    I think renting used to be bigger, but with the advent of budget wedding dress shops such as Wed2B and David's Bridal, and so many high street shops selling bridal, you can now buy dresses so cheaply that renting out dresses isn't really viable as a business.
    I imagine ladies wanting high end designer dresses also want the boutique experience that goes with that price point, and you are never going to get a high end fit if you can't have alterations or if a dress has been altered many times. How would it work with length, most dresses are made for 6ft women originally, but I'm 5ft 2 - if you let me chop the bottom off you can now only rent it to short arses! Renting worked originally because people weren't as bothered about fit and lots of people borrowed and shared dresses - modern brides are a bit fussier IMO.
  • dianactozerdianactozer Posts: 3 New bride
    Well there is a hire company in London who are very successful in this sector.  Also, I am a seamstress and know how to do alterations and I plan to stock dresses in a variety of sizes and lengths. 
  • CoffeeDogAddictCoffeeDogAddict Posts: 1,275 New bride
    ok but as the others have said, once you have done alterations you're limited to what you can do with it next. Also, it means they cant personalise it at all. The amount of brides i see who pick a dress and then add sleeves, take them off, add beading, whatever they want, well you couldn't really do that for them all. 

    you'd also need contingency plans for if a dress gets damaged but its due to be hired out a few days later. Its such an emotive item, its not like someone hiring a mirror table plan that then gets broken, if you try and tell someone the dress they have picked is no longer available because someone spilt red wine all down it and ripped the train in a car door, a large part of their day is now ruined and they're back to square one, potentially costing them MUCH more to find replacement short notice. 

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,942 New bride
    The other problem is so many people buy their dresses as samples now. I paid £500 for a sample Maggie Sottero dress that would have been £2000 with the added extras I have, then the alterations are about £200, so total I have paid roughly a third of the cost of the dress's RRP. But I can potentially sell it on, or keep it for sentimental reasons if I want to - why would I pay the same amount to get less in return? Both my best friends bought samples too.
    I've also never seen a wedding dress whose hem and train weren't wrecked after one use.

    I'm not trying to pee on your bonfire, but renting out wedding dresses used to be big business and now it isn't - there must be reasons for that. Also, 1 rental shop working as a financially viable business in London, population > 8 million, doesn't necessarily translate to it working elsewhere unless you are also in a very big city with a large population. 
  • Sci-Fi NerdSci-Fi Nerd Posts: 56 New bride
    I would actually say that in London there's massive competition. I went to 3 Wed2Be's all in one afternoon and bought a cracking dress for literally pennies. Also the fear would be that I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself during the day as I'd be too stressed about 'ruining' the dress. Why bother with renting when you put that altogether? 
  • Okay. Thanks for the feedback and I will take it into consideration as I proceed with setting up my own business. 
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