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8 important things brides should know about sample and clearance sales

There are several ways of finding your wedding gown for a great bargain. While you can always spend a fortune picking up a brand new gown, it isn’t always necessary. For the budget-savvy bride, who wants a fabulous gown sans the hefty price, sample and clearance sales are your best friend. Sales are also held for bridesmaids, mother-of-bride and flower girl dresses. So, look around and you may find fantastic options to dress your entire wedding party with, at very reasonable prices.

Nevertheless, you need to know all you can about what they involve, so you can make the most of it when the chance comes. Here is a list of eight important things to help you get the most out of your wedding dress shopping experience by choosing to buy it on sale.

1.What are sample sales and clearance sales? How are they different?

Every wedding boutique houses several hundreds of wedding dresses. As with any other shop, these cannot be retained for ever for two reasons: lack of space and changing demand. Wedding fashion, like fashion in general, is always evolving. New designs enter the market every season, and all the wedding boutiques have to carry the latest dresses that most brides come in asking for. With only so much space to house old stock, most bridal boutiques will host sales on a regular basis to sell the ones that belong to previous collections and make way for new dresses.

During sample sales, shops sell off the gowns that were used on the shop floor for trials by the brides who visited them. These will have little to no damage. For the simple reason that they’ve been out of their original packaging and tried on, you can snatch them at a bargain price, which will usually be several hundreds lesser than the original price.

Clearance sales are the other option. Here, the reason remains the same—getting older unsold stock out of the way to make space for new stock. However, these dresses are untouched and in perfect condition. They will still be in the original form they were delivered to the store, and yet be sold at a huge discount. So, if you want a brand new, unused gown for your wedding day at the best price possible, you should consider a clearance sale.

2.Do I just turn up for a sample sale?

This depends on the boutique or shop that is hosting the sale. Your best bet is to call up in advance and find out for yourself. While some shops will simply allow you to walk in and look through what is available and make your choice, others let you do so only by appointment. Certain shops can be thickly crowded and you may have to battle your way through several other bridal parties who are there for the same reason. This reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica had her mind set on a wedding dress, and she decided to find it at a sample sale with her best friends in tow. They were few among the hundreds of other girls who were there to search for the perfect wedding dress at a bargain, and it was quite chaotic, to say the least. So much for a hilarious episode, but it is not too far from the truth. If you aren’t up for all this adventure, it may be a good idea to stay away from the sale on the first day and instead visit on the second or third day. There may be fewer dresses, but you will still have enough to look at, all the same.

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3.How can I prepare in advance?

Don’t ever assume that you can walk in to a sample sale and just find a dress. No! You need to know what you want to get beforehand. When you attend the sale, you should already know your dress model number and size, or you will find yourself lost in the midst of hundreds of gowns. Brides who make their way to sales usually visit a bridal salon in advance, try on the samples in store and find out exactly what they want before they go sample shopping. At Best for Bride, our clearance section has hundreds of gowns, but it won’t be easy finding the right fit just by looking at it. Our suggestion is to first fix your appointment with our store, come in and try on the dress and find what size will fit you. Then attend the clearance sale with this detail in hand. This will allow you to pick the right dress with minimum hassle, while making use of the sale.

Before you even decide to attend a sale, make sure you know what dresses and in which sizes will be on sale. Don’t ever expect to find the current year and season’s models, they will still be on the rack. You will more likely find the previous year’s collections on sale. You can always check with the store for information, sometimes they may be able to tell you which designer collections and sizes that are on sale. So, you needn’t go all the way and return empty-handed.

4.Is it a good idea to attend the sample sale all by myself?

This depends on how good you are at finding what you want. Remember that this is a dress that needn’t be too easy to spot among the hundreds of other white wedding gowns there. There may not be too many pieces in the same size either, and you never know if there are other brides who are on the search for precisely the same dress in the same size. It would be much better if you get your friends to pitch in to help. Pull in one or two bridesmaids and the combined effort will most likely help you find the dress faster. Before you go to the store, provide specific instructions on how the dress looks and how they can make out if it is the one. Also show them pictures of the dress that are available on the internet, so they know exactly how it looks. If possible print out the pictures, so they can refer to it when they are at the sale.

5.How good are my chances if I have only a single gown in mind?

Not too good, we would say! If there is another bride who is after the same gown, or worse if someone finds the one you want first and decides to go with it, you will not be able to make use of this golden opportunity. There is a lot of luck involved, as most stores do not have too many samples of the same model. Brides who wish to buy their wedding dress at a sample sale should ideally have at least a few dresses in mind. We suggest you visit a few boutiques in advance, try on several dresses and shortlist a few that you love. This will make it easier for you to find at least one of these dresses at the sale. Remember that you will be competing against many other brides to find one particular dress, your chances are much better if you are open to more options. This article on the Huffington Post tells us that many brides who actually nail a deal at sample sales have been visiting bridal salons for up to six months prior to attending the sale. This way they know what they want, have already learned about what will work and what won’t, and hence are more likely to find it.

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Now, if you do not find the gowns that you shortlisted, you can still see what’s available and make a pick from those. Sample sales allow brides to try on gowns, however the trial rooms will be rushed and very chaotic. So, don’t expect to spend all your time there trying on one gown after another, just like you would if you were at a regular wedding dress appointment. Your decision will have to be made quickly. So, it helps if you already know how you look in a style and can judge whether a dress will work or not without much delay.

6.What if I can’t find my size?

This is a given risk when you go wedding gown shopping at a sale. Unlike the regular wedding shopping experience, where you can ask the boutique to arrange for the dress you like in your size, this is not possible here. You will have to choose from what is available. It makes it all the more difficult if your size is at either end of the spectrum. Another factor is that many shops do not disclose which sizes they will be having at the sample sale, in advance. Nevertheless, you can always call and check in advance.

The good news, however, is that you do not need to find a gown in precisely your size, as this is what alterations can help you with. In fact, almost every wedding dress has to be altered to fit any bride perfectly. All you need to know is what sizes can be altered to fit you. Usually, wedding dresses are chosen in sizes that are bigger than your actual measurements. This allows the extra fabric to be taken out, which is much easier than adding extra inches to an existing size. Nevertheless, there are limitations on the extent to which alterations can be performed on a gown. If you buy one that is too big, all the measurements will be totally off and the entire look may be altered once it is made to fit you. If there are design elements that you love on a gown in the neckline or hemline, but the gown is too big, you may lose these features when it is altered. So, always choose a size closest to your actual measurements or just slightly bigger. Since wedding dresses are sized differently in comparison to other dresses, make sure you know where you are on the size chart before you buy a gown.

7.When can I expect these sales?

Many boutiques run discount sales all year round. For example, at Best for Bride, we have gowns on sale all the time. All you have to do is visit the clearance section on our website, to find out which gowns are covered in the sale. Sample sales on the other hand, are usually held just before the new stock for the current and next season are due for arrival. This is usually between October and February. There are also sales that are regularly held in summer and winter. So, keep your eyes open for advertisements at this time of year. One way to not miss it is to subscribe to news updates or follow the bridal salon on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This is where boutiques will be posting it first. If there are any surprise offers or fun giveaways, you will know about it this well ahead of time and may even get lucky and find a great deal when you least expect it. You can check with the bridal shop in advance and find out if they have a sale scheduled in the coming months and prepare yourself for it by that time.

8.Will I be able to use these gowns as they are or will they have to be cleaned before my wedding day?

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This depends on whether you get your dress at a sample sale or a clearance sale. Clearance gowns are as good as new, and can be used as such. Sample sale gowns have been worn by brides, although for short span of time, and may have picked up dirt and sweat. So, it is better if you can get it cleaned so it is in pristine condition for you to wear on your wedding day.

So, now that you know all you need to about sample and clearance sales, are you going to try your luck at it? To find out what is on offer at our store right now, visit our clearance and discount section by clicking on this link here.  For more wedding related information and dress shopping tips, continue visiting us at Best for Bride.

4 thoughts on “8 important things brides should know about sample and clearance sales

  1. Very good tips! Thank you for this article. There are many things here that I had not really thought about and now I look back and realize they are quite important!

    1. I agree. Everyone wants to save a buck on their wedding, but they need to know that is not always the best option.

  2. Good tips! I never thought about things like this, but it makes sense. Thank you for the article.

  3. Oh this is a good article! I attended a wedding one time where the dresses were purchased on clearance and it just did not look right. The whites were just a little bit “off” and the bride maids dresses were the same, but did not match for some reason. Not a good idea!

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