The day of her first wedding anniversary, Nancy Mbui could not wait to get home. She had wedded in 2014 and she was eager to do something to remind her of that special day.
After work, she rushed home and went straight to her bedroom, opened the suitcase where her wedding gown was stored, took it out, wore it and walked around the house.
Sounds insane but most women hold onto their wedding gowns yet they take up coveted closet space.
“That moment brought back the memories of my wedding day. The laughter, the dancing, the venue and its decor and all the activities of the day. It was a great feeling,” says Nancy, who works in the hospitality sector.
Nancy is one of the millions of women keeping their wedding gowns that most likely have gone out of fashion or are too small for them now.
She says even though she bought her dress at a bargain from China, she is still attached to it and selling it has never crossed her mind.
“A gown is very special because it signifies the transition from singlehood to marriage. It is a garment that I treasure,” she says.
However, instead of locking it in her wardrobe, she has turned it into a money-spinner.
The 30-year-old started an online gown shop called Joy Bridal Palace (JBP) where she rents wedding gowns.
“I get to turn people's dreams into reality at a bargain,” she says adding that she has eight wedding gowns, hers included which she rents out.
One rents the gowns at Sh15,000.
One specific company that ensure the quality is maintained does the dry cleaning.
“When I rent out the gown, one has to return it when it is dirty and in a suitcase. I will be the one to arrange for the cleaning,” she says, adding that one pays Sh5,000 more which will be an insurance in case the gown has damages.
“When the gown is returned and in the right shape, the Sh5,000 is refunded. Also, the bride has to leave her Identity Card (ID) with me as a surety they will return the gown,” she adds.
Nancy notes that she has never thought of passing the dress to her daughter because it will be outdated at the time.
Naomi Kitema, a 31-year-old, also rents her wedding gown. She bought her diamond-embellished gown for Sh150,000 for her 2012 wedding.
“It is a treasure and it reminds me of my big day,” Naomi says.
“Selling it cannot return its value, so I decided to put it for hire. So far, I have rented it out four times at Sh15,000," says Naomi. Her gown is also returned uncleaned.
“Some cleaners say they cannot clean it because the diamonds will get spoilt, so I am always careful who cleans it,” she adds.
Naomi who has a special suitcase where she keeps the gown says since the wedding day, she has only worn the gown once and has since outgrown it.
“I have added weight but this is not enough reason to sell my gown. Hiring it out is the better option.”
Julia Wachira has had her wedding gown hang among her other clothes for four years now. The dress is always covered in a garment bag to prevent it from gathering dust. She has no plans of selling it or hiring it out.
“I always look at it and just feel good. It symbolised my transition from being a girl to wife,” she says.
“Once in a while, I take the gown to a dry cleaner to ensure it is in good shape."
when Buying a Gown
Wairimu Mwai, founder of Sidai Brides, designers of luxury bridal dresses in Nairobi, says before choosing a wedding gown, consider the following: First, the price. Wairimu says the price will depend on whether the gown is locally made, if you are buying a ready-made, if there are other additional fabrics or embellishments on the dress.
Second, a couple should start shopping early to avoid the last-minute rush.
Third, take a gown that complements your body shape to avoid embarrassment and being uncomfortable.
“We all have different body types and choosing a gown that matches that should be considered,” the designer said.
Also, book an appointment for bridal shopping. This will ensure that you get time to interact with the designer.
Lastly, follow your heart. Always choose what you like.