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What It's Really Like to Rent Your Wedding Dress

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Two days ago, after a hectic New York Fashion Week, I decided to take a day off … and get married. Surprise! My Racked co-workers had no idea until the next day, when I returned to work, and I still have a few close friends and family to inform. (If you’re reading this, hi! I’ll call you later.)

Ever since I met my now-husband, Alex, I’ve felt happy and calm about getting married. But planning a big, extravagant wedding with a crowd of guests is my personal nightmare. So my small "surprise" wedding down at City Hall with just my mom and sister was ideal. I got all the oohs and ahhs from friends and coworkers the next day, but none of the stress of choosing centerpieces. There was only one thing I worried I would regret: renting my dress.

Don’t take my desire for a low-key union as a dismissal of the classic, white wedding gown. I love wedding dresses. I’ve watched many a Say Yes to the Dress episode and always tear up when the bride inevitably says yes, and she and her gown live happily ever after.

But, as it turns out, trying to find your dream dress in less than a month is really hard, especially when you’re above a size 12 and not trying to look like the mother of the bride. Plus, one of the big advantages to a small, courthouse wedding is how much money you save, and blowing those savings on a dress felt counterintuitive to a day I knew was about the both of us.

Luckily, I found the perfect dress on Rent the Runway, available and ready to ship just in time for the big day. It was exactly what I was looking for: simple, high-necked, form-fitting, and a perfect length for the Converse I knew I’d inevitably slip into after our vows. I just couldn’t shake the fear that I wouldn’t want to return something I wore on such a life-changing occasion.

When I got down to the city clerk’s office, feeling giggly and excited about our impending "I dos," it made me even giddier to see several brides rocking rentals I had scrolled past during my digital pursuit. Some women had even chosen red, yellow, or black dresses. And they all looked beautiful.

After the ceremony, a long lunch, and an iPhone photo shoot in Central Park, I took off my rental dress and felt incredibly happy with my decision. Despite not being mine to have and to hold, it made me feel beautiful, comfortable, and carefree on a day when that was what mattered most. The next day I zipped the dress back into its garment bag and returned it. I hope the next person to wear it on their special day will feel just as lovely as I did.

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