Being a bridesmaid is expensive. In fact, the average bridesmaid spends $1,695 per wedding—and oftentimes that number is even higher. Outside of the destination bachelorette parties that are taking over bridal parties across the country, the bridesmaid dress is oftentimes the priciest obligation of bridesmaid culture. It also feels the most wasteful because it only gets worn once (don’t tell us otherwise, we all know the truth).
This is where Kelsey Doorey, CEO of Vow to be Chic comes in. After being a bridesmaid multiple times, she concluded that there needed to be a more affordable solution for brides and bridesmaids. She started Vow to be Chic, a dress-rental company meant to save ‘maids money, while helping them to look great.
Brides and bridesmaids alike can choose dresses online, try them on at home, choosing between two sizes. Then, the week before the event, the dress arrives, complete with a return envelope. Wear it, love it, and then send it back. Her business is entirely online, making purchasing and choosing the right dresses easy, with affordable prices starting at just $50.00.
We think she’s a genius, so we chatted with CEO Kelsey Doorey about all things wedding, business and bridesmaid.
Q&A with Vow to be Chic CEO Kelsey Doorey
BU: How many times have you been a bridesmaid?
KD: I’ve been a bridesmaid 6 times. I know that’s a lot, but it was those experiences that inspired my company! I have 6 awesome friends to thank for helping me find my dream job.
Tell us about Vow to Be Chic. As someone who has been a bridesmaid 12 times, this concept sounds amazing!
Vow To Be Chic rents designer bridesmaid dresses and and Little White Dresses to brides in search of dresses for special events such as engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and receptions. By renting a dress they know they’ll only wear once, brides and bridesmaids can save 50% – 88% on dresses from designers that they know and love. Men have been renting tuxes for years; doesn’t it make sense that ladies have the rental option too?
Totally! I’m also getting married in a month, so totally can relate to wanting/needing LWD to wear for special events, not to mention that this would be a great option for my nine bridesmaids. So what inspired you to start the brand?
It was probably somewhere around my 5th bridesmaid dress when I realized that there must be a better way. It’s a great honor to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding but it was such an expensive, time consuming process that I decided it was time to make the bridesmaid dress experience more affordable, convenient and fun. I went shopping with a friend for his tux, and I had an epiphany that rental was the way to go. Not only can women now wear gorgeous designer dresses, they can save money while doing so!
It sounds like you are a pretty experienced in the art of standing up beside a bride in her wedding. What is the most stressful part of being a bridesmaid?
Being a bridesmaid is an honor, but it’s an expensive one. You don’t want to tell your friend whom you love dearly that it all costs too much. These days you’re often paying for a plane ticket to the wedding, the bachelorette party, and to go shopping for dresses. Then, there’s all the gifts, showers, and parties. We haven’t even touched on your hair, nails, and finally the dress (a dress that you will never wear again but typically spend $300 to purchase and an extra $100 to alter). You don’t want to tell you friend that you can’t afford to stand with her during this incredibly special time in her life. Instead, millions of young women in their 20s just dig themselves into a financial hole trying to make it work.
Which is where you come in. So, how does Vow to be Chic help alleviate that stress?
First, we cut the price of the dress itself by giving bridesmaids the option of renting. Second, because we are an e-commerce platform, we eliminate the need for women to spend time and money traveling across the country to meet in one place and shop together. Our new tool, the Bridal Suite, allows our customers to shop collaboratively online. They can chat back and forth, make recommendations to the bride, and vote on their favorite styles in an organized fashion from the comfort of their own homes. Third, bridesmaids don’t have to pay additional money for alterations. When bridesmaids get ready to order their dress, we send them a preview box with their dress in 2 sizes, so that they can try them on in their home. They select the best fit and send them back. Then, we send them the correct size one week prior to the wedding. Finally, after the wedding, they just ship it back in the pre-paid envelope. Don’t worry about cleaning it or anything else. Just send it back and enjoy the extra space in your closet (and wallet).
What are the top styles we can expect to see this wedding season?
Convertible dresses are incredibly hot right now, and they create some beautiful, romantic, and unique looks. They’re perfect for when you’re dressing a party of women with very different body types, or you want each girl to look similar but with her own style. Women can accentuate and camouflage as they feel comfortable. Ultimately, you want your bridesmaids to feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident. That’s what will make them look stunning in pictures.
What advice do you have for bridesmaids out there?
On the wedding day, it’s the bride’s big day so try to be there for her by doing what you can to make the day run smoothly and ensure she has the best day possible. Think about what she likes and her vision for the big day. She will hopefully do the same for you one day! Before the wedding, don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside of the box. There are many resources at your disposal (Pinterest is incredible). Whether it is renting or another creative option, remember that there is a way to make your friend’s experience amazing without exhausting your time and money. Our bridal stylists can tell you about all of the rental options available to women. Did you know that you can rent diamond jewelry for the big day, and it’s affordable? That’s one of my personal favorites!
Thanks, Kelsey! Check out Vow to be Chic for an updated selection of styles and a lengthy list of incredible designers.