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Wedding rental trend grows

Jennifer Hyman knows that a fashionable wedding can mean financial pains.

Nuptials are the No. 1 occasion that prompt women – both brides and guests – to visit Rent the Runway, the online shop she and business partner Jennifer Fleiss started in 2009 that lets women borrow expensive designer clothing for a more modest price.

Now, they’ve launched a new Weddings Boutique section on the website that helps brides, bridesmaids and guests rent all the garments and accessories needed for a wedding – save for the bridal gown.

“There’s nothing a woman hates more than buying a bridesmaid dress,” Hyman says. “A woman can buy eight or 10 bridesmaids dresses that she may never wear again.”

Instead of asking friends to shell out hundreds of dollars for one-time formalwear, she says, brides-to-be can choose styles for their bridesmaids by designers such as Nina Ricci, Issa and Diane Von Furstenberg for about $75 a dress. They can also search through a variety of curated styles for all the events that lead up to the wedding – showers, photo shoots, bridal luncheons.

Other sites also are trying on the rental model.

While planning her wedding last year, Jaqueline Courtney couldn’t help thinking about her experience as a fashion publicist.

“You have all these A-list celebrities borrowing 90 percent of what they wear on the red carpet,” Courtney says. The thought was the beginning of Nearly Newlywed, an online service launched this month that lets women buy barely worn wedding dresses at a discount and then either sell them back to the company for a guaranteed 30 percent of the purchase price or consign through the website for a potentially higher return.