Wedding dress shopping can be a bit of a minefield, let alone wedding dress shopping at a sample sale. If you’re in the market for a wedding gown and you’d like to attend a sample sale, then you need to do your homework beforehand. Showing up unprepared will most likely result in you walking out empty handed. Lots of bridal salons hold sample sales throughout the year. It’s a great way for them to discount and move inventory to make room for new gowns. It’s also a great way for a bride to find that amazing designer gown for less. To get you prepared, we’ve compiled our top tips for shopping a sample sale.

1. The Early Bride Gets the Dress

First, there are a limited number of dresses at a sample sale, so you’ll want to jump in the mix as soon as possible for the best chance at finding a gown in your size that also suits your taste. Find out when the doors open and when people start lining up beforehand and arrive accordingly to have the first pick.   

2. The Price is Right

Since stores are looking to move merchandise during a sample sale, you can expect major cost savings—but you will be expected to pay for the dress in full. Make sure you know what you’re willing to spend and have the amount ready. 

3. Say “Yes!” to the Sample

The dresses available will be gowns that brides have been trying on at the store, so they might not be quite as pristine as brand new. Don’t let that scare you off. Small issues can be addressed by alterations and you’ll likely still come out saving money.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Commitment!

Buying a dress is a big decision, but getting a gown at a sample sale isn’t exactly a choice you can sleep on. Trust your gut and come prepared to make a purchase on the spot if you find a dress you’re happy with. After all, isn’t commitment what weddings are all about?

5. Three is a Crowd…

Although it’s tempting to bring friends and families along to try on dresses, keep in mind this isn’t your typical shopping experience. Shopping with a big group will only slow you down as you navigate the crowd and leave you with conflicting opinions. Instead, bring along one or two friends whose judgment you trust. 

6. Be Savvy & Ask Questions

Just because you have to do some quick decision making doesn’t mean you should settle for feeling uninformed and uncomfortable. Sales associates will be busy, but they can still field questions about the dresses, what your options are regarding any issues with gowns and what the store’s alteration policy is regarding samples.

7. Keep an Open Mind

Ideally, you will already have a style in mind when you walk into the sample sale, but your options will be restricted by what’s available. Keep an eye out for gowns similar to what you envision and give them a fair shot. If you don’t have luck with what you think you want, don’t be afraid to branch out—as the saying goes, you won’t know until you try.  

8. What Not to Wear

You’ll be changing in and out of dresses quickly, so keep your shopping outfit simple to save time – no layers you’ll have to keep taking on and off or laces you’ll have to tie and retie. Ensure dresses look their best when you try them on by wearing nude, seamless underwear and your favorite strapless bra. At some sample sales, dressing rooms may not be available.  Consider wearing tights if you want additional coverage for impromptu changing sessions.

9. Keep Calm and Just Try It On

With big crowds and sometimes ferocious competition for dresses, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t be discouraged, just focus on finding gowns in your size that you’re interested in trying. If they don’t work out, there are plenty of other opportunities to find a dress you love. With that said… 

10. Stay Savvy!

Lastly, we know how challenging finding the perfect dress can be at the right price. If you don’t walk away from a sample sale with what you wanted, check out off-the-rack bridal boutiques like Savvy Bridal. They offer designer dresses for a big discount off retail prices everyday—no fighting your way to a dress required.  

Tips for Shopping a Sample Sale was written by: Imene McCoy, Savvy Bridal

Photo by: Rivas Photography