Would You Buy a Wedding Dress at a Web Sample Sale?


Brides have long accepted that getting married entails buying a very expensive dress (and shoes) that they’ll only wear once. All that is about to change this month, with the launch of two new sites devoted to the bridal market.

Within the next few weeks, Rent the Runway plans to unveil Rent the Runway Weddings–a site dedicated to bridal dress rentals. And yesterday saw the debut of The Aisle New York, a flash sale site offering wedding dresses, veils, jewelry and other accessories from Monique Lhuillier, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose and more. Left, Monique Lhuillier Skye gown, $2,599 (retail: $4,400). Right, Elizabeth Fillmore Claudia gown, $4,499 (retail: $9,900).

The site feels very Gilt Groupe-inspired. There’s a $25 incentive to refer friends; when a product sells out, it’s marked with a gold stamp. We’re honestly surprised Gilt didn’t think of this first (and we bet it won’t be long until they add a bridal category).

The Aisle’s discounts are significant–many gowns are available for half-off retail. And the site’s founders have even come up with a way to quell fears of buying something that won’t look or fit right. For an extra $200, you can purchase “return insurance” allowing you to mail your section back within five days with gratis shipping. Left, Oscar de la Renta crystal earrings, $495. Right, Angel Sanchez gold sequin veil, $389 (retail: $990).

Practically every category of retail is now available online via flash sale sites, but bridal gowns are a particularly unique market. There is so much societal emphasis placed upon finding the “perfect” dress for you that trying on multiple options (and then getting your choice fitted to you) has become routine. We wonder if many brides will be comfortable clicking to purchase such an item–after all, these options still cost thousands of dollars.

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