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If your style is more princess bride than modernist, check out New York's other major gown-rental shop, Fancy Wedding Center, located near Coney Island (6604 Bay Pkwy., nr. 66th St.; 718-234-3442). Here you can fulfill your fantasies by renting an ornately beaded, full-skirted dress for half the $200 to $700 sticker price.
While the gown-rental trend is just beginning to pick up steam here, the practice is widespread on the West Coast. One of the country's largest bridal rental shops, Alexandria's Formal Gown Rental, headquartered in Sacramento, will soon be offering nationwide service online (alexandriasformal.com). For serious bargain hunters, a mere $150 will buy the "complete wedding rental package," which includes a gown, veil, tiara, shawl, petticoat, shoes, and jewelry.
Gowns aren't the only bridal accoutrements available for rent to thrifty New Yorkers. MyrJan's veils are available off-the-rack, or can be custom-made in a variety of styles and fabrics (tulle or lace) for $60 to $100. For a truly unique look, Jana Starr Antiques, an upscale vintage shop on the Upper East Side (236 E. 80th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-861-8256), rents spectacular one-of-a-kind veils made from nineteenth-century handmade Belgian lace for 30 percent of their retail price ($400 to $2,800, depending on the embroidery and age). One caveat: You have to reserve them close to the day of your wedding - Starr can't guarantee your veil will be in stock if you try to arrange it months in advance.
Ultraposh brides who want luxury at a fair price can also rent high-end wedding jewelry for a fraction of its value. Doyle & Doyle (189 Orchard St., nr. Houston; 212-677-9991), famous for the over-the-top glamour of its estate jewelry, rents necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and brooches for 20 percent of their retail value. Try their gorgeous 2.61-carat-diamond-and-18-karat-gold fringe necklace on for size (retail value $4,325) - a bargain at $866. Or for "something blue," consider renting a glittery 2.36-carat-diamond-and-sapphire Deco-style platinum bracelet (retail $9,500) for $1,900.
Whether you're working within a tight wedding budget or just trying to keep your luxury spending within reason, bridal rentals make perfect sense. Georgia Boni, who rented her wedding gown for $100 from a shop in the Bronx back in 1962 (when the practice was practically unheard of), put the money she saved on a dress toward her honeymoon. "We sailed on the Queen Elizabeth, toured Europe, and spent a year in Israel," she says. Now that's smart spending.