Behind the Business: Sonoma’s Dare and Dazzle offers brides the choice to rent or own their dress for the big day

Dare and Dazzle bridal shop in Sonoma continues to offer sustainable wedding gowns and affordable services for the soon-to-be wed following a rough start during the 2020 pandemic.|

If you go

What: Dare and Dazzle bridal shop, which offers wedding dress rentals and purchases.

Where: 294 W. Napa St., Sonoma.

When: Open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Appointments by reservations, rental services also available by mail.

More Info: Call 707-836-8525, visit

In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, there’s a street dedicated to wedding-related businesses, many of which offer dress rentals for brides and bridesmaids ― a common practice across the country.

Growing up in Hanoi, Vietnam, the proprietor of Dare and Dazzle bridal shop in Sonoma, Hien Le, was shocked to discover the lack of dress rental shops in the area.

In 2017, as Le prepared to walk down the aisle herself, she was ready to find the perfect dress, but she learned she was late in the process, starting the search six months prior to her wedding day.

“One of my really close girlfriends was like, ‘You need to step on it. You are late!’ And I was, like, what are you talking about? I have six months,” Le said. “And she told me, ‘No, you need to book the appointment now.’”

As renting a dress for the big day is common in Vietnam, Le assumed finding a rental would be a breeze.

“That's one reason why I said that six months was plenty of time because you know, if you rent it, you just go and choose the dress,” she said.

Le said her friend looked at her like she was crazy when she asked where the rental shops were.

“I said, ‘What are you talking about? So what do you do?’ And she said, ‘You buy.’”

Le said her mind was blown; not only by the concept of purchasing a dress to wear for just one night, but also the cost. The bride-to-be had set her budget at $1,500, although, her friends explained the price would limit her options.

“I'm, like, I don't want to raise my budget. I’m only wearing it for you know, eight hours max, and it's as expensive as my MacBook.”

According to Statista, the worldwide bridal gown market size in 2017 in U.S dollars was $32.5 billion and was expected to reach $43.5 billion in 2022.

In addition to the high cost of wedding dresses, Le was concerned about gowns going to waste after one use.

Starting a business making wedding dresses was an unexpected career move for Le, as she said she had no experience in fashion or the wedding industry.

Le studied economics and psychology in college and went on to work in market research. Though unforeseen, her background in analyzing consumer behavior has helped launch Dare and Dazzle in downtown Sonoma.

She hoped to help out other brides by making more affordable dresses as well as provide an opportunity for renting to reduce waste and the option to re-purpose gowns.

At Dare and Dazzle, customers can rent dresses for 1/5th of the purchase price, ranging from roughly $120 - $500.

Dare and Dazzle opened its doors Feb. 28, 2020, an unfortunate launch as the COVID-19 lock downs began shortly after.

The business was essentially down for a year but was able to survive and opened back up the following spring. Le said the pandemic taught her to go with the flow and take chances, as she did when she launched her business.

Although initially she discovered an interest in renting was low, as more customers became aware of the concept, numbers increased.

Le said in 2021 only 20% of her customers were renting, with the majority buying. In 2022, that raised to 40% rentals and 50/50 in 2023.

The “Dare” in Dare and Dazzle represents the concept of daring to try something new, Le said.

Whether that be launching a business in an unfamiliar industry or trying something a little out of the norm like renting a wedding gown, Le said her shop inspires individuals to step out of their comfort zone ― and dazzle while doing so.

When helping a bride-to-be find the perfect dress, Le said she asks them three important questions: Do you feel pretty and confident? Are you comfortable? And how will you feel about it 10 years from now?

With eloping and city hall weddings becoming more popular, Le said rentals are a good option as well as re-purposed rentals that can be altered for a more casual style after many uses.

Le said renting is great because she’s had customers change their minds last minute as well as those who reach out in crisis because something happened to their dress and they need a rental just in time for the wedding.

Rentals can also be re-purposed for the shorter, less elegant gowns brides seek to wear during the reception.

“Because the trend is to wear multiple dresses right now, for sure. It's, you know, something to follow the ballgowns or very elaborate style for the ceremony,” Le said. “And then something more fun and short for dancing at the reception.”

Le said her brand is unique because of the many styles she offers as well as the different demographics of the customers she serves. Most of her business comes from word-of-mouth referrals, from customers who have had great experiences at the shop.

Because Dare and Dazzle offers rentals, Le tries to make dresses that reflect trending styles while still having a timeless aspect so they can be used year after year.

Napa resident Ariel Jackson, who is soon to be married, bought her dress from Dare and Dazzle and said she loved working with Hien.

“During the initial dress buying process, she was wonderfully kind and supportive,” Jackson said.

The bride-to-be’s maid of honor showed Le a personalized Pinterest page for Jackson’s wedding and Le went from there to bring out the most fitting dresses.

“Any problem I voiced with the dresses, she instantly had a solution,” Jackson said.

Dare and Dazzle is located at 294 W. Napa St., Sonoma, and is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. Customers can visit the shop on an appointment reservation basis.

Customers can also order three dresses to be sent for a three-day trial period before choosing their favorite dress a 10-day reservation. Dare and Dazzle currently has 50 different styles and offers sizes 2 to 20, custom tailoring and the ability to return gowns without getting them cleaned.

You can reach Staff Writer Emma Molloy at

If you go

What: Dare and Dazzle bridal shop, which offers wedding dress rentals and purchases.

Where: 294 W. Napa St., Sonoma.

When: Open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Appointments by reservations, rental services also available by mail.

More Info: Call 707-836-8525, visit

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