Tips to say yes to the sample sale wedding dress

Peter Langer Waking up gown

Weddings and sample sales can be a match made in heaven from a piggy bank perspective. Where else can you find that (designer) wedding dress at sometimes 75% off? It’s a great opportunity to find that dress which you might not be able to afford at its regular price. But as with any sample sale there are certain things you have to keep in mind, to make sure you find the ‘love on first sight’ dress. Because bridal sample sale season is in full swing find below 10 bridal sample sale tips to make your sample sale shopping trip a success.

1. Do some research

If possible do some research on styles, designers and prices before you head over to a bridal sample sale. Find out which of the stores that hold a sample sale sell the designers you’re interested in (browse their websites and call ahead). Don’t forget to do some legwork on accessories, like veils, belts, shoes, etc, as well.

2. Be flexible

Have a specific idea of what you’re after? That beautiful dress that you saw in the latest bridal magazine? More than likely you won’t find it at the sample sale. Dresses being sold are generally from a previous collection. Still want to go? Try on as many dresses as you can. Found “your” dress, try it on again and make sure you love it.

3. Come in early

Arrive early to be front of queue at non-appointment sales to find the best deals. Don’t forget to check whether the sales is appointment only or not to avoid disappointment at the door. If the shop allows appointments do so and make an appointment as soon as possible.

Monique Lhuillier Mila

4. Dress appropriately

Wear appropriate underwear so you can change in and out of dresses anywhere. Because you want to see how your dress will look on your big day make sure you bring a strapless bra, heels (assuming you’re not going for some fab flats under your dress) and if need be tights.

5. Bring someone

Whether it’s your mum or a friend take someone with you who can be brutally honest. More than ever you need an honest opinion as you have to make a snap decision. And an extra pair of eyes and hands come in handy as well while you’re hunting for your dress. Before you bring your entire wedding party check with the store how many are allowed as some will limit it to keep the sales orderly.

6. Don’t forget the accessories

It’s so easy to just be focused on finding that right dress during the frenzy of a sample sale that you forget to have a look at the accessories on sale. Do have a peek as accessories are the final touch and great bargains can be had, saving you a lot of money.

7. Sample sale sizes

Don’t stay away from a bridal sample sale just because you think your size is not available. Sizing “doesn’t” matter. In most cases the dress can be altered, typically 2-3 sizes down but always check with the store. Some alterations are more difficult than others. If your dress is heavily beaded for example, it might be quite complex to have it altered and thus more expensive. Remember it’s much easier to make a dress smaller than to go up in size and obviously it’s alway better to buy a dress in the right size.

8. Check, check and double check

Found your dress? Check, check and double check for missing beads (if applicable), stains, snags (delicate fabrics snag easily), etc. And as an extra pair of eyes see more, ask your mum/friends to check it as well. Found anything? Ask the store assistant what options you have. Some things can be fixed some things can’t. In other words, the condition of your dress is very important because that determines any additional costs.

Mira Zwillinger Beatrice wedding dress

9. Factor in all the costs

Don’t get swept away by the sample sale price of your dress. Factor in all costs, like alterations, cleaning and repairing. Keep in mind that these costs can be quite steep. Also check a store’s alteration policy and get an estimate. Sometimes stores don’t provide alteration services for sample sale dresses. If that’s the case they may know reputable seamstresses. Same thing for dry cleaners. Regarding cleaning, certain fabrics such as tulle and organza are difficult to clean when they are soiled. Also if you’ve snapped up that beautiful beaded dress choose your cleaners wisely as special care is required.

10. Deal or no deal

Finally don’t feel pressured to buy a dress. Don’t just buy something because you don’t want to leave the bridal sample sale empty handed and because it’s a steal. And repeat this mantra “it’s not always a bargain. It’s not always a bargain”. Don’t get fixated on the sale price, factor in all the costs. And make sure you really love the dress as in generally there’s no returns policy.

But the most important advice I can give you is to enjoy the whole experience! The wedding preparations are part of the fun. Spending time with your mum/friends to find your dress is something to enjoy and to treasure forever.

For an overview of sample sales click here.


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