Wedding dress shopping can be a bit of a minefield.

Not only is there so much choice (so many gorgeous dresses!) but the pressure is on to find a dress you love, look and feel fabulous in, and comes in (ideally!) under budget.

Add a sample sale or trunk show into the mix, and we’re officially bewildered. But fret not, we’ve brought in an expert to help!

Expert Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping at Sample Sales and Trunk Shows | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Dress by Lazaro, Photo by Vicki Bartel Photography via Gorgeous Fairytale Wedding

What are Trunk Shows and Sample Sales?

First up though, let’s bust a little lingo.

A trunk show is a special event in a bridal boutique where they invite a designer to showcase their collection. Sometimes it’s a one day event, but for particularly popular collections, it could be over several days. Often the designers themselves, or stylists from the fashion house will be on hand to help you find the right dress.

Trunk shows are a particularly good opportunity to check out a visiting designer whose full collections aren’t stocked in your country or city.

A sample sale is when a boutique sells the gowns that brides try on in the store, with often very large discounts. It doesn’t mean they are all very small, ‘sample sizes’, in fact, there are often a wide range of sizes available.

While there may be some marks or damage to the gowns, bridal salons do look after their samples, so most will be in pretty good condition. You do have to decide to buy on the spot though, so it’s best not to go to a sample sale if it’s your first time trying on gowns.

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Dresses by Katya Katya Shehurina via Bridal Musings

10 Expert Tips for Shopping at Sample Sales and Trunk Shows

So, now you know what they are, how do you get the most out of shopping at sample sales and trunk shows? Here’s where the wonderful Sophie of Les Trois Soeurs steps in.

Les Trois Soeurs is a London bridal boutique which stocks such coveted wedding dress designers as Lazaro, Zahavit Tshuba, Blush by Hayley PaigeAmanda Wakeley, Sarah Janks and Temperley Bridal.

They regularly host trunk shows with visiting designers from around the world, so who better to give their top tips on wedding dress shopping?

Take it away Sophie…

1. What Lies Beneath

Tips for Trunk Show Shopping | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog

Photo by Scott Clark Photo via JLM Couture

Feel your best underneath the gown – wear nude coloured underwear and a great strapless bra.

2. Bring a Buddy

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Dress Sareh Nouri, Photo by Millie B Photography via Bridal Musings

Take a trusted friend – some honest encouragement is often helpful and a fun way to enjoy your appointment.

Leave your whole friendship group at home though – too many contrasting opinions can end up being unhelpful!

3. On The Money

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Dresses by Anna Campbell, Photo by Lauren of Every Last Detail via Bridal Musings

Know your budget – trunk shows often offer a discretionary discount (usually 10%) off gowns ordered over that weekend.

It’s a great way to spend a little less if you are lucky enough to find your perfect dress on the day.

Sample sales offer samples that have been tried on before with varying discounts from 10%-80%! Be prepared to spend more for newer styles in great condition.

4. Do Your Research

Tips for Shopping at Trunk Shows and Sample Sales | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 2

Dress, Zahavit Tshuba, Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon @ Mandorla London via Les Trois Soeurs

Research the designer first – for a trunk show the boutique will primarily present the featured designer only.

Make sure you are interested in their styles to get the most from your experience.

5. Shape Up

Dress by Galia Lahav, Photo by Getty via Bridal Musings

Have an idea of what shape or silhouette you are looking for – Try on different shapes, if only to exclude these quickly.

You will soon find you have narrowed down your style and what is flattering for your figure.

6. Post-Purchase Perfection

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Dress, Zahavit Tshuba, Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon @ Mandorla London via Les Trois Soeurs

Always remember that sample sale dresses can be altered – Slightly marked hems or a piece of frayed lace can easily be trimmed and remedied during your fitting appointments.

You should come out of your fittings looking like the dress is new – what a great way to get a new looking dress for less.

7. How High?

Dress by Galia Lahav, Photo by Getty via Bridal Musings

Bear in mind the height of your heels if you are buying a sample.

Hems cannot be lengthened, only shortened so it’s a good idea to take the optimum heel height with you.

8. Ask The Expert

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Dress, Zahavit Tshuba, Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon @ Mandorla London via Les Trois Soeurs

At a trunk show, if you are lucky the designer may be there in person, take full advantage of this and ask for styling advice.

With their experience and knowledge of cut and shape you are likely to find that they know what suits you better than you do! Check out all of Les Trois Soeurs upcoming trunk shows here. 

9. Think Timeline

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Dress, Zahavit Tshuba, Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon @ Mandorla London via Les Trois Soeurs

Know your time frame, some designer dresses need up to eight months to be made and altered to perfection.

Ask the boutiques beforehand, and remember if you are in a rush, sample dresses are a different ball game, they are in stock and available immediately.

It’s always work asking one of our consultants if we can help you on a short led time, we will always do our best to accommodate brides.

10. Cash In Hand

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Photo via Sarah Seven

Be prepared to pay in full for your sample dress.

Unlike a new dress, in which a deposit is taken and you pay the remaining after the dresses is made, all sample dresses will need to be paid for in full, even if the boutique is doing your fittings there at a later date.

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Dress Sareh Nouri, Photo by Millie B Photography via Bridal Musings

Such great tips right? I totally agree on wearing good underwear for dress shopping – it makes such a difference! It’s also really important not to be afraid to ask questions, especially if the designer is there, what a great opportunity!

Thanks so much to Sophie at Les Trois Soeurs for sharing her words of wisdom. See their website for more information on their boutique and their events, (oh and be sure to swoon over some gorgeous dresses and accessories while you’re there!)

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