A bridal sample sale is definitely a great way for savvy brides to get the most from their money when buying their wedding dress. Sample sale wedding dresses are those which have been used for fashion shows, photo shoots, window displays and ex-shop samples, and you can expect huge savings on the RRP. Designers and boutiques sell off designs from previous seasons and, if you shop wisely, there’s bargains to be had.

It’s important to remember though that buying a wedding dress from a bridal sample sale is not the same experience as the regular wedding dress shopping you may have been looking forward to. They can be crowded and therefore you’re unlikely to receive one-to-one service, and you may have to go alone or just with one other person if you’d like a second opinion.

However, if you’re prepared to forgo the Champagne and personal service when wedding dress shopping you could walk away the same day with a bargain. Here’s a list of pointers which will help you get the most from bridal sample sales…

Do Your Research

It’s essential you do your research before visiting a bridal sample sale, so you already have a good idea of the style of wedding dress you are looking for. Go dress shopping beforehand and try on different styles and designers outside of the pressured environment of a sample sale to get an idea of what you like and what you don’t. You’re time at a sample sale will be much more limited so you don’t want to be trying on lots of different dress styles for the first time.

Rail of wedding dresses hanging on floor

Aim High

Sample sales are a great opportunity to shop at top quality bridal boutiques who stock designers you could not normally afford. These are the real bargains where discounts on high quality, individually cut gowns in luxurious fabrics really are a steal. The better the dress, the better the overall look of the wedding, and with such big discounts on offer your dream wedding dress could become a reality.

Dress Condition

Sample sale dresses will have already been tried on by previous brides, so you should expect some wear and tear. Some dresses may need cleaning or a few minor repairs, so factor in the cost of this before you buy. There are three key things to look for to gauge the condition of a sample wedding dress:

  1. Look underneath the arms for discolouration.
  2. Lift up the hem and look underneath for dirt or the level of dirt. It may not be 100% clean, but this will indicate how much wear it’s had.
  3. Check the dress for marks and pulls, but keep in mind it’s possible to remove some marks, and you can trim lace pulls. Remember that tiny marks or pulls will go unnoticed in the overall picture of how you look. Your guests won’t be holding a magnifying glass up to you!

Bride trying on wedidng dress

The Fit

When buying a dress from a bridal sample sale you’ll find that sizes are usual very limited. So, if a sample dress fits, or nearly fits, grab it! Don’t hesitate as fit is SO important.

Generally, if a dress needs more than one and a half sizes of readjustment think carefully. Can the boutique or seamstress alter the dress and still keep the proportions right?

Be Ready to Buy

Most importantly, make sure you have finances in place so that should you find your dream wedding dress you are in a position to purchase it immediately. Shops will not keep it for you. Buying a dress from a bridal sample sale is a first come, first served, first pay system.


Once you’ve purchased your gown, make sure you allow time for fittings and alterations. Don’t leave it to the last minute as these alterations take time and skill — they should not be rushed. Also, don’t forget to take your bridal shoes and underwear to each fitting.

Guest post by Carina Baverstock of Carina Baverstock Couture