No matter what the budget is for the bridal dress or the entire wedding, all shoppers love a great bargain. A wedding dress trunk show or sample sale can prove to be a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind pieces and a wide variety of dresses at discounted prices, but these events can also be stressful and hectic. If you’re thinking of venturing out to a wedding dress trunk show or sample sale, be prepared and get the best out of the experience.

As you're choosing among bridal shops and salons, you'll notice that most stores don’t have the capacity or budget to carry every single dress that a certain designer offers. A trunk show is a way for designers or specific clothing lines to come into a store and showcase different pieces that are only available for a limited amount of time. It is also an opportunity to clear out inventory from past seasons, or sell off the last remnants of a line that is discontinued.

Some salons require you to make an appointment when they are hosting trunk shows. There are lots of brides looking for a price break, so be sure to call early in order to secure a spot when there is a trunk show in your area. Other stores operate on a “first come, first served” basis, so make plans to come early if this is the case.

When preparing for your day at the trunk show or sample sale, do some research on the designer(s) and your favorite styles. Bring your own lingerie and any other accessories, such as shoes or jewelry, while you are trying on gowns. At these types of events, you may not receive the specialized attention you would expect at a regular appointment, so it’s better to come prepared with knowledge and a dressing agenda under your belt. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the store may have sales associates representing the brand on hand to help you and to answer any questions you may have.

The inventory at the trunk show or sample sale most will likely limited to whatever is left of the designer’s line, so you may find that the piece you want may be too large or small. A consultant can help you try on the gowns and can clamp a too-large dress to fit your waist give you a better idea of what a dress will look like after it has been properly altered. Unfortunately, if a gown is too small, you are out of luck if it happens to be the only piece left of its kind.

In larger stores with stacks of gowns, it can be helpful to bring your friends or bridesmaids with you so you’ll have a team that can work together and canvass different areas of the store at once. If you end up with a bunch of gowns that aren’t your style, be considerate by placing them back on the rack for another bride to find.

In addition to your lingerie and accessories, it’s also important to bring a patient disposition. These types of events can draw hundreds of brides from all over looking for a bargain. You’ll have to deal with long lines, pushy brides and flustered consultants in exchange for a discount. Stay hydrated and bring a snack to curb your crankiness, because you could be in the store for several hours. You should also be prepared to pay the full price of your dress at the time of purchase because many discounted dresses or special styles require full payment and do not allow for deposits. Bring your credit card, and, if possible, cash to help speed the process at the register.

Although there are some special circumstances that come along with shopping at a trunk show or sample sale, it is still considered wedding dress shopping. All the rules that apply to a traditional bridal dress shopping excursion still apply. Don’t feel pressured to buy a dress just because it’s cheap or one-of-a-kind. Take your time, and you will find the dress that is right for you—no matter what the price. 

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