You'll save some money, but your selection might be limited.

As you start your wedding dress search, you've likely considered all the possible ways to shop for your dream gown—a traditional bridal salon, trunk shows, online retailers, and maybe even sample sales. What is a sample sale? Simply put, it's a special "clearance" event, often hosted by a bridal salon or a designer, in an effort to get rid of old product to make room for new gowns. You'll be considering wedding dresses that were tried on by past brides during their own shopping experiences, and while most will be gently used, it's important to check for damage such as tears, staining, or missing gemstones or buttons; the upside is that these dresses will be significantly discounted.

While finding a gown with an affordable price tag sounds enticing, shopping a sample sale is definitely not right for every bride. Here, we share some pros and cons of shopping and finding a wedding dress during a sample sale.

Woman Trying on Wedding Dress at Bridal Salon with Friends
Credit: Hero Images / Getty Images

Pro: You Can Expect to Get a Great Deal

If you're looking for a designer gown but don't want to pay a designer price tag, shopping a sample sale might be a good choice for you. Bridal salons hosting these types of sales are looking to clear out wedding dresses from past seasons in order to make room for the new selection available. That doesn't mean that these gowns are out of style or old-fashioned, though—it just means that the dresses are either no longer available to be ordered through a designer or that they've run out of space.

Con: You're Essentially Buying a Used Gown

Sample sale wedding dresses are the gowns tried on by brides during their shopping trips. While these dresses have never been technically worn down the aisle, you'll find that most have had a lot of wear. What's more, the majority of salons or designers sell these dresses "as is," meaning that they will not include alterations or cleaning costs on the gown. It's important to carefully check for damage before taking one home.

Pro: You'll Likely Still Work with a Stylist

Sample sale appointments will generally look different than typical wedding dress shopping appointments, but you'll more than likely still be assisted by a stylist who is familiar with the gown and is able to answer any questions you may have about alterations, fit, and other important details. Make sure you ask as many questions as you can to ensure you'll be happy with your purchase.

Con: Your Alterations Cost Will Likely Be Higher Than What's Typical

While you may be finding a dress at an affordable price, don't forget that the price of alterations are never discounted—and since this wedding dress wasn't created to fit your exact body, the gown will likely require more extensive alterations than what's typical. It's exciting to find a designer wedding dress for under $1,000, but you may be paying the same price (or more!) for alterations.


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