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Bridesmaids on a budget

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Getty Images

Being a bridesmaid is a huge honor. After all, it puts you in the inner circle with the star of the show. With the title comes responsibility - helping plan showers and bachelorette parties, of course - and it also can come with a big price tag: The average bridesmaid will spend more than $1,300 per wedding, according to a study done by the website Weddington Way.

Thankfully, today the cost of purchasing a dress you probably will never wear again doesn’t have to eat into your bridesmaid budget. With the help of some clever companies, in fact, you don’t even need to purchase a dress.

One of those companies, Santa Monica, California-based Vow to Be Chic, became a reality after its founder had a bridesmaid-inspired business idea. Kelsey Doorey was like many typical twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, who reach that age when so many friends are getting married that it seems as though there’s a wedding every other weekend. She was asked to be a bridesmaid eight times - purchasing eight different dresses she would never wear again - before she began to think there had to be a better way to dress the bridal party.

In 2015, Doorey’s idea got off the ground and Vow to Be Chic (www.vowtobechic.com), a website offering bridesmaid dress rentals, was launched. Within the company’s first 24 hours, while it was still in its beta-testing phase, it received 25,000 sign-ups, clearly a sign that millennials were craving this type of service.

The idea is simple: Brides and bridesmaids log on before the wedding (at least five to six months, the company recommends) and select dresses for the big day. Vow to Be Chic offers complimentary consultations with bridal stylists who will work with the bride to recommend styles, gather measurements, answer any questions and communicate with the bridal party. Dresses are sent out two weeks before the big event for a flat fee that includes shipping both ways and dry cleaning (before and after the wedding), and each bridesmaid gets two sizes so she can be sure to get the right fit.

Doorey says the company has saved bridesmaids more than $4 million since they launched, while offering bridal parties the opportunity to wear designer dresses from such designers as Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Yoo and Amsale for under $100.

“What I most love about my job is getting to improve the way women feel about bridesmaid dresses” says Doorey.

Vow to Be Chic isn’t the only bridal dress rental service available. Rent the Runway (www. renttherunway.com) features a “Wedding Shop” on their site that offers designer dress rentals for bridesmaids. Once you sign up with a bridal concierge, you’ll get a customizable bridal packages including personal styling and at-home fittings, among other perks for the bridal party.

Sarah Bogan, 23, of Fort Worth, is in the planning stage of her September nuptials to fiance Zach Youngs. She says she is trying to be cognizant of the high cost of bridesmaid dresses for her bridesmaids. Would a service like Vow to Be Chic or Rent the Runway be of interest to her? “Absolutely,” says Bogan, who said she will consider rental dresses as an option. “We’re all young and I understand that money can be an issue.” Plus, she notes, guys have been renting tuxes for ages. “It’s about time girls realize it’s okay to rent stuff too.”

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