Shopping the sales: How to bag a bargain wedding dress

Wedding dress sample sales may be the stuff of dreams, thanks to discounts of between 50-70%, but shopping in the sales can be stressful and rather frantic.

Whether you’re looking for a contemporary look or want to channel a timeless and traditional wedding dress style, sample sales can provide endless inspiration and choice – if you shop them the right way.

Here we share our top tips for shopping the sales, leaving you to bag the bargain wedding dress of your dreams.

Do your homework

When it comes to organising any aspect of your special day, doing your research is key, and this couldn’t be truer when shopping for a wedding gown.

Never go into a wedding dress sample sale blind. You should be armed with all the necessary information, including what looks suit you, which designers you love, and what styles complement your body shape.

The best way to gather all these details is to go wedding dress shopping before you hit the sales. Sample sales don’t offer the magical first-time dress shopping experience that every bride should have. Treat your test run as a fact-finding mission and revel in the entire experience.

Act fast

Unlike the usual wedding dress shopping experience, where you can try on different styles and head home to ponder your decision, sample sales require you to make a decision rather fast.

The vast majority of sample sales are final sales and many stores hosting sample sales don’t have hold policies. This means they’ll be little or no opportunity to return to the store to bag your favourite discounted gown at a later date. It’s likely the sample you love is the only one of that style and it could quite easily get snapped up by another eager bride.

If you’ve done your homework as suggested in our first tip, you’ll have all the information you need to make the purchase on the day with complete confidence.

Be realistic

Whether you purchase your dream wedding gown in the sales or via the traditional route, it’s highly likely that you’ll have to have dress fittings to ensure the gown is the perfect fit for you.

When buying in the sample sale ensuring that the dress you fall in love with can realistically be altered to your size and shape is an important consideration. The ability to alter a dress is influenced not just by its size but by its material. Beading and boning can also make a dress more difficult to alter.

You can ask for advice on alterations at the boutique you’re shopping with. If you’ve already got a seamstress on standby, take lots of close-up pictures of the dress and get their opinion.

Look closely

Sample sale gowns are generally used for display purposes and may have been tried on by many different brides before you, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a dress that’s past its prime. All sample sale dresses should be in good condition. Look closely and inspect the gown thoroughly before committing to your purchase.

Check every area of the dress for wear and tear, especially under the arms, on the train and hem, and along the seams. If the dress comes with a zip, make sure this is in good working order too.

Consider renting

If you’re looking to achieve a stunning designer look on a not-so-designer budget, and either don’t fancy shopping the sales or haven’t found the sample dress of your dreams, why not consider renting?

Wedding dresses can be rented for as little as £40, providing an affordable and more sustainable alternative to buying. There are more reasons to rent instead of buy, too, as fashion rental app founder Eshita Kabra-Davies reveals:

“It’s pretty common for the groom to rent his tux, but renting a wedding dress seems to be more unconventional – even though it would be the perfect something borrowed. Having spoken to many brides and also reflecting on my own beautiful wedding dress sitting away in a box, I understand that wedding dresses can sometimes be a non-efficient purchase. I listed my wedding dress over lockdown and I love the idea of it carrying on a story instead of sitting in my closet.”

Happy wedding dress shopping!


If you would like to request a brochure, enquire about a certain date or have any other wedding-related enquiry, please click the button below.


T: 01787 477 778