Meet the brides who, like Carrie Johnson, rented their wedding gowns
To have and to hire: Is it a sensible way to save or a bargain too far? Meet the brides who, like Carrie Johnson, rented their wedding gowns… for as little as £11 a day
At the centre of all pre-wedding stress is invariably the dress — vastly expensive and usually impossible to wear again.
Which means that, all around the country, overpriced meringues hang in the back of wardrobes, gathering dust, moths and guilty thoughts as we try not to think of how much they cost us, per hour, on the day.
But not at 10 Downing Street. Because Carrie Symonds, aka the third Mrs Boris Johnson, pioneered a new thrifty, eco-conscious but also extremely stylish approach, by hiring her dress for just £45 from MyWardrobeHQ.
Had she bought the ivory tulle gown by Christos Costarellos, it would have set her back £2,870.
What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t we all think of that?
Actually, it turns out many of us already have.
Here, JANE FRYER and SAMANTHA BRICK meet the brides who took their ‘something borrowed’ to a whole new level by renting their designer wedding gowns for as little as £11 a day…
Carrie Symonds, aka the third Mrs Boris Johnson, pioneered a new thrifty, eco-conscious but also extremely stylish approach, by hiring her dress (pictured) for just £45 from MyWardrobeHQ
Our future’s my priority, not a dress I’d wear once
Project manager Sabrina Pyneeandy, 30, married James Welby, 29, an underwriter, in December at St Paul’s Church in their home town of Chigwell, Essex. Sabrina wore a Maggie Sottero dress worth £1,600, available to hire for £325 from Something Borrowed Bridal (somethingborrowedbridal.co.uk). Sabrina says:
Project manager Sabrina Pyneeandy, 30, married James Welby, 29, an underwriter, in December at St Paul’s Church in their home town of Chigwell, Essex. Sabrina wore a Maggie Sottero dress worth £1,600, available to hire for £325 from Something Borrowed Bridal
Thanks to the pandemic we moved our wedding five times last year before finally walking down the aisle in December. But the one constant was that I always knew I was going to hire my dress.
When we started planning our big day in 2019, I spoke to countless brides about what they had done with their wedding dress afterwards. Every single one said it had gone into a box, where it had gathered dust, never to be worn again.
I hated the idea of spending so much money on a dress that I’d wear for only one day. So I did my research, and that’s when I discovered bridal hire companies.
I was drawn to the sustainability factor in our fast-fashion-obsessed world. Plus, I was charmed by the prospect that the dress would be hired and worn by another happy bride after me.
Some of my friends were surprised by my decision. They warned me that if I didn’t keep the dress then I wouldn’t have that special something to remember the day by.
Another assumption was that it meant I wasn’t emotionally attached to the wedding. Not true! I just didn’t want the inconvenience and stress of having to care for the dress afterwards. My priority was the person I was marrying and creating a happy future for us afterwards — not forking out thousands on a dress I’d wear only once.
Before the November lockdown, I went into the Something Borrowed showroom to try on some dresses. I was a bit cynical about the notion that I’d feel teary when I found ‘the one’. But after trying at least ten on, I slipped into an ivory strapless lace dress from Maggie Sottero and it fitted like a glove.
Looking at my reflection and seeing how the dress complimented my figure was a magical moment for me — I fell in love with it on the spot.
It turned out the boutique owner had worn the same dress on her own wedding day, which actually made it feel more special.
At around £325 for a week’s hire, including the cost of dry cleaning, I’d made a huge saving, as it would have cost me around £1,600 to buy new.
I didn’t have a veil, but I did splurge on a pair of £170 Vera Wang bridal shoes, justifying the cost because I knew I’d wear them again.
Now another bride can enjoy my lucky number 13
Recruitment consultant Gemma Farmer, 39, from Aberdeen, married Vince Mars, 38, an offshore worker, on April 30. Gemma wore a handmade Pronovias dress worth £600 new, available for hire for just £11 a day through MyWardrobeHQ (mywardrobehq.com). She says:
I’ve been a bridesmaid seven times and every time the most fun bit was going dress shopping with the bride. You drink champagne, have a laugh . . . But sadly none of that happened for my wedding.
I’d budgeted at least £1,000 for the dress but, thanks to Covid, the bridal shops couldn’t let you come in; they wouldn’t even send them either. I was so upset. I tried ASOS and a few High Street shops, but it was all such a hassle and nothing looked good. Then I found MyWardrobeHQ and when they said they could send me as many designer dresses to try on as I wanted for £20, I couldn’t believe it.
Recruitment consultant Gemma Farmer, 39, from Aberdeen, married Vince Mars, 38, an offshore worker, on April 30. Gemma wore a handmade Pronovias dress worth £600 new, available for hire for just £11 a day through MyWardrobeHQ
I’d never have thought of hiring a dress, but I’m not really one for hanging on to things for the sake of it. So I ordered a selection — including an amazing backless dress by Amanda Wakeley and a flamenco-inspired gown by Vicky M. Berrocal — poured myself a glass of bubbly, with my friends on FaceTime, and started trying them on.
Nothing was quite right. But when I put on this Pronovias gown — the 13th I tried — I just knew. It was perfect: the sort of dress I’d always dreamt of.
I was so excited I ran downstairs and showed my fiancé (I know, you’re not supposed to, but nothing was normal!) who loved it.
It felt amazing. Even better, it cost just £11 a day — £77 for the whole week or, if I wanted, I could even buy it for £160.
Which, in the end, I did. I was so nervous about damaging it that I didn’t want to risk it.
But I saved so much money by not buying it new that we could afford to spend more on things for the wedding.
I had the perfect dress and I felt amazing in it, but I’ll never want to wear it again. So I think I’ll put it back on MyWardrobeHQ, and someone else can enjoy it!
Carrie’s a modern woman like me
Medical professional Yarbe Belisario, 29, married Paddy Kinnaird 40, who works in finance, in November 2019 at Chelsea Old Town Hall. Yarbeli wore a dress worth £310, hired for £59 for two days from Girl Meets Dress
Medical professional Yarbe Belisario, 29, married Paddy Kinnaird 40, who works in finance, in November 2019 at Chelsea Old Town Hall. Yarbeli wore a dress worth £310, hired for £59 for two days from Girl Meets Dress (girlmeetsdress.com). She says:
I arrived in London just a few months before my wedding and there just wasn’t time to research and build a relationship with the designer who would make my dress. So a friend who works in fashion came up with the perfect fuss-free solution — hiring.
I’ve never been a bridezilla and neither Padraigh nor I was keen on a big ghastly white dress, but I still wanted something fabulous.
My sister-in-law came with me to the atelier where the rental outfits were stored, and I tried on five before I came across the full-length lacy pink dress from the brand Keepsake, worth £310 new. When I saw it, I knew it was the one. When Paddy saw me the morning of our wedding he was bowled over by it.
It’s great Carrie chose to hire her dress — although I’m chuffed that I got there first!
Only four guests saw me in borrowed frock
Full-time mother Elisha Pigram, 29, married Scott, 42, an IT manager, at Southend Register Office in September.
Full-time mother Elisha Pigram, 29, married Scott, 42, an IT manager, at Southend Register Office in September. Elisha wore a £1,200 Pronovias dress available to hire for £275 for a week from Something Borrowed Bridal
They live in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, with their two children Amelia, six, and Harrison, two.
Elisha wore a £1,200 Pronovias dress available to hire for £275 for a week from Something Borrowed Bridal (somethingborrowed bridal.co.uk). She says:
What bride isn’t seduced by the idea of having a day out shopping for a wedding dress? But with shops closed due to the pandemic, I had to start looking online.
The longer I spent searching, the more I began to feel nervous about the prospect of buying something off the peg and over the internet to boot.
That’s when I started to think about the practicalities of owning such a huge, expensive dress. How on earth would I store all those metres of delicate white satin before the wedding, never mind afterwards, in our two-bedroom flat?
Knowing my worries, it was my mum who suggested I consider hiring. When I went to the company’s storage facility, I was pleasantly surprised at how well organised it was. I’m a size 16 and there were plenty of options for me to consider.
I’d gone in sure I would end up choosing a fishtail gown or a froufrou princess style. But the dress I went for — the first one I tried — could never be described as over the top, but was really elegant.
And Scott agreed with me that it seemed daft to spend thousands on fancy clothes for a wedding with only four guests.
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