Get the most from that bridal sample sale with our tips

Posted 2 years ago

Bridal sample sales can be an amazing way to say yes to the dress without causing your bank manager to cry, but they don't suit every bride, and a little preparation can make the difference

Shopping bridal sample sales

Bridal sample sales are an increasingly popular way for brides to shop for that perfect gown. Unlike real "sample sales", where manufacturers of clothing sell off designs that didn't quite make the grade or test production runs from the factory, most modern bridal sample sales are usually flash sales that happen in a bridal store or studio, and where you can purchase previous season stock, try-on models or even slightly damaged stock at a major discount.

These are not events that suit every bride. If you want to spend a long time choosing your perfect dress, be pampered in a luxurious environment, have an assistant and a bunch of friends helping you pick styles and give advice, and just generally feel like a princess, then you might be best to stay away from a sample sale. But if you're a passionate bargain hunter who would love to get a gown worth 10x the price for a snip, and don't mind facing some chaos to achieve it, then this is the place for you!

But like any bargain hunting exercise, there are secrets that can help you get the most from your trip! Here's our run down of the game plan!

Know what to expect

Advanced knowledge of what to expect from a bridal sample sale will always give you the upper hand. Each bridal sample sale is different - some can be quite civilised affairs with an allocated time slot, changing rooms, and a dedicated member of staff on hand, but many can be a free for all where you're diving through racks of stock with other brides, no changing rooms and very few staff to help. Some need you to book, some are first-come-first-served. Some only have limited sizes available, some have the full range. Some are cash only, some credit card only.

Read as much as you can about the sample sale before you go, and unless otherwise stated, expect the maximum of chaos before you go, and prepare for that.

Be prepared

The single biggest advantage you an give yourself over other shoppers is to be prepared before you go. Make sure that you know the type of gowns you'd like right from the start, and if you can try them on in advance then even better. Book yourself an appointment at a bridal store that sells those designs in advance, try on some gowns, and get an idea of the sizes and styles that you like so that you can dive straight in and grab them in the sale before anyone else.

If that's not possible, make sure to spend time browsing the designer's website to get an idea of the kinds of gowns you'd like to check out. The more you can turn up with your mind full of potential matches the better. But try not to fixate on one gown too much - have a selection in mind - as you may find that the only gown you've picked is already gone, or not available in your size. You will need to be prepared to compromise to get the best deal.

Finally, be prepared to walk away. There are no guarantees that you will get that perfect dress, even in the most awesome sample sale - so beware of day-after-regrets, and don't spend an inordinate amount of money on a dress you're not happy with.

Bring a friend

Most bridal sample sales will let you bring at least one friend or family member along too. Many will specify how many guests are allowed during the event.

Make sure you bring along someone you can trust to give you honest feedback and tell you the truth. It's very easy to get carried away with an amazing price tag and not realise that you look like a pink blancmange - your BFF will need to point you in the right direction when that happens!

Dress appropriately

It's common for changing rooms to be out of action during a bridal sample sale, or for them to be so busy that you'll lose out on valuable browsing time. Yoga pants and similarly tight bodywear is your friend, so that you can try on items without having to search for privacy. Certainly, avoid that frilly transparent bridal lingerie set you've been saving your wedding night - that's not for today!

Also, make sure to bring some heels! If you're trying on a dress, slipping on some heels that are like the ones you're planning to wear on your big day can help you quickly make sure that dress is the right one for you.

Get there early

The early bird catches the worm, and that adage is never more true than at a sample sale. Make sure you get into the store early - in popular events there can be a queue for hours before it starts. Fashionably late just won't cut it here, and you'll miss all the best deals.

Be thorough

Once you've narrowed down your selection to one or two items that you're sure suit you perfectly, and you're ready to make the final call, make sure to check everything thoroughly. Check for damage, missing frills or beads, marks or anything else that's amiss. Make sure you're confident in the size, and that you've factored in the pricing for alterations and adjustments if you're going to need them. Remember that most sample sales are final sale, and that there's no going back once you've made your mind up!

Have fun

Whatever happens, try not to take the event too seriously. The more you stress out about it, the less enjoyable it's going to be. You're there to possibly grab a bargain on the gown you've been eyeing, but you might walk out empty handed. Be ready for either outcome, go with the flow and enjoy yourself!

Now you're ready to dive in, check out the latest bridal sample sales on Chicmi in London, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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