This wedding shop has style and sustainability in mind 2
Photo by Francis Perez

Rented Vera Wang, anyone? This Filipino wedding shop has style and sustainability in mind

These days, renting a wedding gown doesn’t mean having lousy options
ANCX Staff | Jan 20 2023

Some brides wouldn’t hesitate blowing a large amount of money for a designer wedding gown. But there are also the more practical brides, those who would rather buy off-the-rack, rent from a bridal shop, or borrow from a friend than have one custom-made. It’s all a matter of personal choice.

But what if you could wear your dream wedding gown—a fabulous Monique Lhuillier, for example, or one of those coveted Vera Wangs—while spending only a small fraction of your budget? Wouldn’t that be a dream on its own?

Vera Wang
Gown: Ethel by Vera Wang. Photo by Aya Cabauatan

Meet Jam Muñasque, Joanne Kong, and Kristine Erni Santos, the women behind The Bridefolio which rents out designer gowns to style-conscious but money-smart brides. Jam thought of the idea when one of her best friends started preparing for her wedding over the pandemic. “She was very clear that she wanted to rent a wedding gown. She had a set budget,” recalls the entrepreneur. 

Gown by Monique Lhuillier
Gown: Monique Lhuillier. Photo by Aya Cabauatan

Meanwhile, she found out that another friend, who’s also getting married, has opted to rent a gown, too—except she has a happier story. “She was having the time of her life going to different shops and trying out gowns in Singapore,” recalls Jam. “I was thinking, ‘How come there is nothing like that here in Manila?’” 

The Bridefolio launched its services in November of 2021.

“One of the things that makes us different is we have good relationships with local designers that we feature in our website,” offers Jam. She gives Vania Romoff, known for her dreamy bridal dresses, as an example. “[Vania] told us it’s good for girls to have all these other options.” 

Photo by Vania Romoff
Gown: Vania Romoff. Photo courtesy of Romoff

The designer is a also a believer in sustainable fashion, an advocacy The Bridefolio shares. “She practices optimal use of materials in making gowns and also sells her archival pieces, a few of which we have in our collection.”

Jam says one of the company’s ultimate goals is to make wedding preparations less stressful for brides. She recalls a client who frantically called her at 10 in the evening the night before a wedding. The bride was supposed to wear a hand-me-down from her sister but found out she no longer fits into it. “The very next day, we let her try some of our pieces and she found something she really liked,” recalls Jam. “We find joy in making [the brides] feel happy, good, and reassured.”

Gown: Mara Chua
Gown: Mara Chua. Photo by Nice Print Photo

Since The Bridefolio has a wide and diverse collection—from minimalist to elaborate dresses, conservative to more daring designs—brides are sure to find something to fancy at the shop. Apart from Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang, they have pieces from designers like Lili Hod and Rosa Clara, and gowns from local designers like Romoff, Edwin Tan, Lulu Tan Gan, and Julianne Syjuco. Many of the gowns have been worn by real brides but they also carry new designs. 

Brides can find many options on the Bridefolio website but Santos says they have so much more in their “secret closet.” “Sometimes the turnover is so fast. We don't have the time just yet to upload the photos of the gowns on the website. So we put them in a folder for the brides to look through,” Jam says. “If they’re interested to try out any of the gowns, they can just message us.” Gowns can be rented for as low as P3,500 to as high as P130,000. 

The Bridefolio is also open to brides who might want to consign or sell their own wedding gowns. 

Katarina by Lulu Tan Gan
Gown: Katarina by Lulu Tan Gan. Photo by Aya Cabauatan

The shop is proof that being practical doesn't mean one has to compromise quality, or disregard one’s taste or sense of style. “We recognize that you want to be more practical or sustainable about certain things,” says Santos. “And we have this option for you which can also make you very happy and make you look beautiful.” 

Filipino brides opting for rental gowns only goes to show today’s women are becoming more comfortable making unusual choices, even in something very traditional like a wedding. “I think that’s amazing,” says Jam. Some women even go for gowns that are—gasp—not white. “Which is why we have bridal gowns in champagne, shades of blue, or even pink,” she offers. “Girls now are starting to break away [from stereotypes] and want to do things their own way.”

Photos courtesy of The Bridefolio