The Difference Between Wedding Dress Sample Sales & Trunk Shows

The Difference Between Wedding Dress Sample Sales & Trunk Shows

The Difference Between Wedding Dress Sample Sales & Trunk Shows. Mobile Image

Dec 21, 2022

If you are planning your wedding and have begun shopping for your wedding dress, you will not want to miss today’s advice post. If you have started researching bridal shops to visit to shop for your wedding dress, then you have likely come across the terms sample sale and trunk show. These two terms can be confusing for people not inside the bridal fashion industry and are often mixed up in bride’s minds. 


We are going to help clarify what a sample sale is and what a trunk show is when it comes to wedding dresses. We are going to help brides understand the difference between a wedding dress sample sale and a wedding dress trunk show. With our tips and advice, brides will be able to decide if a sample sale or trunk show is right for them to find their wedding dress.


What Is A Sample Sale?

Let’s start with wedding dress sample sales. What exactly is a wedding dress sample sale? A wedding dress sample sale is when the bridal store is selling the actual sample dresses that brides try on when they come in to shop for their bridal gown. These dresses are what brides try on before placing their order so they can be sure to find the right style and silhouette for their wedding day. 


Sample sales can be a way to save some money when shopping for your wedding dress. These sample dresses are typically marked down based on the design season and on the condition of the dress. Part of sample wedding dress pricing includes what season the dress design came out in, such as winter 2021 or spring 2022. This is important because that particular dress may be a discontinued bridal gown design, in which case bridal stores can’t order that dress in custom sizes for brides any longer.


Another factor in wedding dress sample sale pricing is the condition of the wedding dress. Keep in mind that these bridal dresses have been tried on by multiple brides, but bridal stores take great care of their sample gowns because they have to invest in these sample dresses. Design elements like beading can get damaged during the try on process, so the condition of the dress will also factor into the price of the sample sale. 


Another perk to sample sale wedding dresses is that you do not have to wait for a wedding dress to be manufactured and to be shipped to you. If you have read some of our past advice posts, then you know we recommend brides order their wedding dress 9-12 months before their wedding day. If you have a shorter turn around time for your wedding date, then a sample gown might be the perfect solution for you as you can go home with your wedding dress that day. 


The Truth About Sample Sale Dresses


A rumor and misunderstanding that we have heard from brides at Lovella is thinking that the sample wedding dresses have been worn before by another bride on her wedding day. This not the case. Sample bridal dresses from a wedding dress boutique have been tried on by other brides. The sample wedding dresses for sale at a sample sale are lightly loved from being tried on, but they've never been worn on someone's wedding day.


A sample sale bridal gown is exactly that, it's a sample dress that has been tried on by other brides and now the store is trying to sell it for a discount during a sample sale. Oftentimes bridal stores are selling samples to create more room for new bridal gown arrivals in the shop.


Sample Sale Secret


There is a secret about sample sale wedding dresses that most people don't know. Oftentimes you think that you might have to wait for a particular sample sale day, time period, or weekend, which a lot of bridal stores do. They will select a particular day or time frame when they offer sample sale dresses available for purchase. For example, a sample wedding dress sale could be a one-day-only, blowout sale or a week-long sale.


But the sample sale secret that many brides do not know is that there is a sample sale in bridal dress stores every single day. Most bridal stores will always have a sample selection of dresses that are marked down and the store is willing to sell.


If you are on a budget when shopping for your wedding dress, you can always ask your bridal stylist what sample dresses are available for you to try on.


We've talked before about why you should not ask for a discount or negotiate the price on your wedding dress, but if you're in the mood for a discount on your wedding dress know that you can always ask a bridal dress shop about any sample sale wedding gowns that a shop might have available for purchase at a reduced price.


Sample Sale Sizing & Alterations


The main thing to keep in mind when shopping a sample sale on wedding dresses is the dress sizing. If you order a wedding dress, your bridal stylist will take your body measurements to order your dress in the size closest to your measurements. Not all bodies fit perfectly into a sample wedding dress. At Lovella, we have a variety of sizes in our sample wedding dresses and most bridal stores will have a range of sample wedding gown sizes for brides to try on. Sample wedding dresses are typically ordered in sizes in the middle of the size chart so keep this in mind when shopping for sample sale wedding dresses.


Along with sizing, you will also want to keep in mind wedding dress alterations. Wedding dress seamstresses can work magic, but you want to know what is possible before you purchase a sample sale wedding dress. Talk with your bridal stylist in the dress shop about what is and is not possible with the particular sample bridal dress you are thinking about purchasing.

If the wedding dress is too small and won’t zip all the way up, it might be possible to add a corset back so you would lace up your dress rather than zip it up. On the other side, if a sample wedding dress is too big for you, maybe five or more inches, then it may not be recommended to size down that much in alterations. You could be compromising the overall design of the wedding dress by sizing down that far, depending on the details of the dress.


Before you purchase a sample wedding dress at a sample sale, be sure to talk to the expert to see what is possible in the alterations process and if it is a good idea or not to purchase the gown. 


Sample Sale Dress Conditions


We mentioned before that the condition of the wedding dress will factor into the discounted price of the sample dress during a sample sale. If you are looking for savings with your wedding dress budget, we encourage you to not fixate on the condition of the bridal dress and all the little details. You bought the bridal dress at a discount that will reflect the condition of the wedding dress. You may notice little things like loose beads or missing stones or a bit of torn lace. Small things like this may be able to be repaired during alterations. 


If you are a bride that is going to fixate on all these tiny details, then a sample dress is probably not the right fit for you. Or you may need to find a sample that is very, very lightly used where you feel comfortable wearing it in the condition that it's in. We know some people stress over small details, but a sample sale wedding dress is truly an amazing opportunity for savings on a wedding dress as long as you can live with the condition of the bridal dress "as is."


To purchase a wedding dress during a sample sale is a personal decision for each bride to make. Please know that your wedding guests are not going to see that a couple of beads are missing on your wedding dress or whatever the tiny details may be on a used sample sale wedding gown. They will only see you as a beautiful bride!


Cleaning Sample Sale Dresses


The last particular detail of sample sale wedding dresses we hear from brides is that they think they need to have the sample wedding dress dry cleaned before their wedding day because it’s been tried on. We would recommend not dry cleaning the sample wedding dress before your wedding day because you risk damage being done to your bridal dress.


If your wedding dress it’s not handled by an expert who is familiar with cleaning bridal gowns, then you risk potential damage. For example, beading can easily be melted if treated with the wrong heat or wrong chemicals. Don’t take the chance and added stress before the wedding day by having your sample sale wedding gown cleaned before you wear it on your wedding day.

Keep in mind that the wedding dress is likely going to need to be hemmed to fit your height, so if the sample wedding dress is dirty on the bottom, that is all going to be trimmed off and then you don’t have to worry about it needing to be cleaned.


Save the wedding dress cleaning for after the wedding day and have your bridal dress preserved at the same time. 


What Is A Trunk Show? 


There can be a lot of confusion between sample sales and trunk shows. We hear all the time from brides who come into Lovella thinking that a trunk show is a sample sale. A trunk show is different than a wedding dress sample sale and it is important for brides who are shopping for a wedding dress to know the difference between the two events.


A wedding dress trunk show is simply when a bridal store brings in a larger selection of wedding dresses from a certain wedding designer. The selection that the shop brings in is larger than the sample collection of dresses that the shop keeps on hand on a regular basis for brides to try on.


During a trunk show, the bridal dress shops are borrowing wedding dresses from the bridal gown designer that are not in the shop's regular wedding gown inventory. Bridal stores have to order and purchase all the wedding gowns they want in their inventory and it takes just as long for a store to receive the sample dress as it does for brides placing their dress order, anywhere from six to nine months or more. Keep in mind that bridal stores have to pay for their wedding dress inventory, so it is not realistic for a bridal store to have in sample stock every dress that a designer makes.


Trunk shows allow a bridal store to showcase more wedding dresses from a designer, but the store is paying for the shipping costs of these dresses during a trunk show. There are typically no discounts available during trunk shows due to this reason. The sample wedding dresses do travel around to many stores, so trunk sales usually only last a weekend before the bridal dresses need to be sent back to the designer.


Not For First Time Shoppers


Since trunk shows often only last a couple of days or just for a weekend, they move fast and you have to be ready to make a decision on your wedding dress. When you go to a trunk show, brides should be ready to buy their wedding dress. For this reason, we do not recommend a trunk show being your first wedding dress-shopping appointment. During your first time trying on wedding dresses, there can be some indecision as you are still trying to figure out what styles you like and what details you are looking for in a bridal outfit. 


We would recommend trunk shows to be something to consider once you have done some browsing and you identify a wedding dress designer that you love and you want to explore all the bridal dresses within that designer's collection. A trunk show gives you the opportunity to not only see in person the latest collection from a designer but also shop and try on a larger selection of wedding gowns that the bridal store may not carry during non-trunk show times.


If you do choose to shop at a wedding dress trunk show, be sure to have all your loved ones with you at your appointment because you won’t have the chance to try on those bridal dresses on again. If you find a bridal dress you love at a trunk show, you need to act fast and purchase the dress that weekend. You won’t have the opportunity to continue browsing and come back to those designs.


Be Ready To Buy


Brides who have been following our advice already know that you need to be ready to purchase your dress anytime you are shopping, even if you think you are just browsing. Our best advice is to make your decision while you are in the sample wedding dress. Make your decision based on how you feel in the wedding dress. 


We know many brides want to take photos and go home and think about their wedding dress decision, but looking at photos is not the same as the feeling you have while wearing the dress on your body. Take photos of you in the sample wedding dress and look at those photos while you are still in the bridal dress.


Brides should take into account how you feel looking at both the photos and how you actually look in person in the wedding dress. Photos can be taken at a bad angle and if that is all you have to make your decision, you are missing out on a big portion of what’s important. When you get zipped up into your bridal dress on your wedding day, that sets the whole tone and mood for your wedding day. When you love what you are wearing, it affects your whole being. You walk differently, you talk differently, and you feel beautiful and confident and that is the feeling you want on your wedding day. 


In the end, everyone’s wedding dress shopping experience is unique and you have to do what feels right for you as a bride. Remember that with a trunk show, you are ordering a dress and not taking it home that day so allow enough time for your wedding dress to arrive before the wedding day. We recommend shopping one year before the wedding so you have some cushion time to allow for alterations. 


Video: The Difference Between a Sample Sale & a Trunk Show


If you have questions about trunk shows and sample sales, don't miss this week's advice video where you can learn the difference between a sample sale and a trunk show



More Helpful Wedding Dress Shopping Advice

We hope you have found these tips and advice helpful in figuring out what the difference is between a wedding dress sample sale and trunk show. For more helpful wedding dress shopping advice, be sure to check out our past posts:



About Lovella


If you're shopping for your perfect wedding dress, come visit us at Lovella Bridal in Glendale, CA. We carry wedding dresses in all sizes and styles, including plus-size bridal gowns and a full selection of veils and accessories. Lovella Bridal is the premier, luxury bridal wedding dress shopping boutique located in Los Angeles, California. Lovella features couture, feminine, modern and chic bridal gowns in all sizes from the best wedding dress designers. Schedule an appointment to find the wedding dress of your dreams at Lovella Bridal. We can't wait to help you!



About Wedding Fashion Expert


Our wedding dress shopping tips and advice are from Nayri, Lovella's own, in-house wedding fashion expert. Nayri is truly the expert when it comes to bridal fashion and wedding style. As the Wedding Fashion Expert, Nayri is the top bridal fashion stylist and the best-selling author of the book "I'm Getting Married And I Have Nothing To Wear," the ultimate guide to helping brides find their wedding day style and their perfect wedding dress. You can subscribe to her YouTube channel or listen to her podcast for more helpful and practical advice on wedding dress shopping.