Finding the perfect wedding dress for you, often comes down to savvy shopping. Whether that’s making your budget work harder by shopping a sample sale, or finding something unqiue at a trunk show – both events offer great opportunities if you know how to make the most of them. There’s a big difference between a sample sale and a trunk show at a bridal boutique. A sample sale is when a wedding dress boutique sells on the sample dresses that they use in ther showroom, usually at a hefty discount. (We have a whole post to answer all your sample sale questions.) Meanwhile a trunk show is a special event at a bridal boutique. The boutique invites a bridal designer to showcase their full collection of wedding dresses to give brides-to-be an opportunity to view and try on wedding dresses that are not normally available in the boutique, or even the country! (Find out more about trunk shows here!) In this post we reveal the top 12 tips you need on how to shop sample sales and trunk shows like a pro. Read on…
1. Do Your Research
For a trunk show the boutique will primarily present the featured designer only. Make sure you are interested in their styles to get the most from your experience, and check out the collection online so that you have a few dresses in mind.
2. Bring the Right Underwear & Shoes
Simple but easy to forget: you’re going to try on wedding dresses, so make sure you’re dressed appropriately to help you envision what the dress will be like. This is particularly important at a sample sale when the pressure might be on to decide pronto. Wear nude underwear, and a well-fitting strapless bra, and don’t forget heels if you’re planning on wearing them on the wedding day. Shoes of the right height (and style if you’re that organised) will help you figure out what length dress you need.
3. Be Prepared & Focused
Have an idea of what shape or silhouette you’re looking for. But do try on different shapes, if only to exclude these quickly. Time is of the essence at a sample sale or trunk show. You don’t have luxury of browsing and considering and coming back later. At a trunk show you will have to make your decision, if not on the day, then pretty quickly. At a sample sale, once the sample is gone, it’s gone!
4. Know Your Budget
Shopping a sample sale or trunk show offers you the chance to save on the cost of the wedding dress, but they are very different. Sample sales offer the sample dresses used by the boutique. So they will have been tried on before, and show some signs of wear, so there are significant discounts to be had depending on the condition of the dress. Prices can range from from 20%-80% off the original price which might be a tasty enough incentive to look over a small imperfection. At a trunk show you’re purchasing a new dress that will be made to order, but there usually discretionary discounts (typically 10%) off wedding gowns that are ordered during that period. Not to be smiffed at!
5. Be Decisive
This is not a time to waffle. It’s a now or never type of decision, so be prepared to make a decision. Having done your research (there’s a reason it’s at number one on our list) you should be in a good position to pull the trigger or just walk away, depending on how you feel about the dresses when you’re there! But remember the golden rule: Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it’s not something you would happily pay full price for you might be more enamoured with the discount rather than the dress.
6. Bring a Trusted Friend
Bring someone whose opinion you trust and who you know will be honest with you. Don’t bring an entourage, it’s distracting and too many opinions will make your head melt. Especially if you’re under pressure at a sample sale.
7. Bring Your Cash (or Card)
Beyond making the decision and going for it, you must be prepared to pay for it. At a sample sale you will be required to pay in full on the day – you’re buying that exact dress. It’s a one time deal, unlike ordering a new dress, in which a deposit is taken and you pay the remaining amount after the dress is made.
8. Sample Sales Will Mean Slight Imperfections
Buying from a sample sale means you’re buyng that dress as is, and as they’ve been used as samples in the boutique, there’s likely to be some wear and tear. Remember that sample sale dresses can be altered – slightly marked hems or a piece of frayed lace can easily be trimmed and remedied, so don’t get put off. But make sure you’re happy with the issue and that you are sure you can alter, fix or hide whatever’s wrong.
9. Ask Questions & Get Advice
At a trunk show, often the designer and brand stylists are there in person, so take full advantage of this and ask for styling advice. They’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of brides in their dresses. This means they know the fabrics and shapes, what alterations and embellishments have worked in the past, and they have a wealth of knowledge about what might suit you, sometimes better than you do!
10. Don’t Feel Pressured
If you’re really not sure, then don’t feel pressured to make a decision you’re not comfortable with. If it’s a trunk show, ask when you have to make your decision by. If it’s a sample dress, be prepared to walk away and lose out on this particular dress. You can always call back in a few hours or the next day to see if it’s still there. Please don’t ask the boutique to hold it for you, it’s unfair to them and to the other brides visiting the sample sale. Much as we would never ask you to deny yourself cake, on this occasion, you can’t have your cake and eat it. If you want (and love) the dress, then buy it. If you’re not sure, then take your chances and think about it. Don’t worry if it goes – we’re so spoiled for choice when it comes to wedding dresses these days that there can be many dresses that fit the bill as “the one”.
11. Think Timeline
Know your time frame! Some designer dresses need up to eight months to be made and altered to perfection, so ask the boutiques beforehand. If you’re in a rush, sample dresses are a different ball game. They are in stock and available immediately. It’s always worth asking one of the bridal consultants if they can help you on a short lead time, as most will do their best to accommodate their lovely brides. We have a post on when you should start dress shopping here.
12. Sign Up, Sign Up
As many samples sales and trunk shows are appointment only, and have a limited number of spaces available, you might be wondering how to stay ahead of the game. The best thing you can do right now is to sign up to the One Fab Day newsletter where we will bring you news of the best sample sales and trunk shows from our preferred bridal wear suppliers – who can we just say are the best in the business! – and check in on our Events Calendar on site. You can also sign up to the newsletter for each individual boutique and designer that you like to stay up to date with news.
Shopping for your dream dress? Be sure to visit Ireland’s best bridal boutiques listed here, subscribe to the One Fab Day newsletter here, and follow us on Instagram.