When purse strings are tight, dress rentals offer some relief

BEIRUT: Weddings are often singled out as the most important occasion in a person’s life, but the financial planning to pull it off can be daunting. Purchasing a wedding dress can take up a hefty chunk of a couple’s budget, but a rising trend of renting a gown promises to take away some of the pressure.

Zeina Chehab, the owner of the boutique Anna Perenna, says there’s been a marked increase in wedding rentals over the past few years.

“There are a lot of women who prefer to rent, because of the price perhaps, because the bride doesn’t have to pay as much [compared to purchasing the dress],” Chehab said. “Dress prices here are a bit higher, than in Europe, for example.”

“It’s better for the bride, because after the wedding day she brings it back, and we wash it, and once the dress is rented once, the price drops,” she says.

Most brides-to-be at Anna Perenna prefer to be the first to rent a particular dress, however. Prices can range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the gown. Renting a new haute couture gown, for instance, can surpass $5,000. Renting a dress already worn once can start from $800, Chehab says.

That’s only a fraction of the cost to purchase a made-to-order gown by one of Lebanon’s designer dressmakers, who charge an average of $10,000-$15,000.

“Sometimes the bride wants to be the first to rent the gown, but there are also brides who want to save money and don’t mind if they are renting it the second, third, or even fourth time,” she says.

“But it depends on the dress and it depends on the bride.”

Apart from the cost of the dress, there are other hidden costs that many brides don’t consider when purchasing a gown, including cleaning and alteration fees. Rentals usually include cleaning services, some alterations and accessories.

And then there’s the issue of what to do with a purchased dress once the special day is over. Many women store their dress in the closet, where it remains for years – maybe forever. Renting does away with that hassle.

Brides looking to rent a dress can have it for five days at Anna Perenna if the wedding is in Lebanon. But Chehab says she is lenient if the wedding is abroad, sometimes lending it for a two-week period.

But there are downsides to renting; major alterations are often out of the question and any damage to the dress might cost the bride.

Some women, however, still prefer to buy a dress to keep as a memento of their special day. Others say it’s cheaper to buy and sell online after the honeymoon is over.





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