Sale shopping for wedding gowns sounds like a fantastic idea – you get more dress for less – but it can be a frustrating or expensive experience if you don’t go prepared. Here are our tips for ensuring you find the dress of your dreams
Nearly all wedding boutiques and wedding gown designers host sale events from time to time. Here they may sell display dresses at a substantial markdown on the original price, or offer incentives on made-to-order gowns such as discounts or free alterations. Events can happen throughout the year, but are often timed in order to make way for new season’s stock or to promote a new label or collection. The savings can be tempting, but there are a few golden rules you need to follow to ensure you don’t end up with a white elephant rather than your dream wedding dress.
1. Do your research
Unless you already know what wedding dress styles work for you, sale shopping can be a frustrating experience, so do your research. Try on a variety of dresses at regular designer or boutique appointments so you have the time and space to find out what works with your body shape and personal style. If you want to take it a step further, create a moodboard of designers and gown styles you like – noting down model name or number with photos. Once you have dresses in mind, sign on to designers’ and boutiques’ websites so you will be alerted of forthcoming special events and can cherrypick those that are most likely to offer bridal treasure.
2. Be prepared to walk away
At some sale shopping events you might only find one size in each gown. Get an idea ahead of the event what the stock levels will be and also what sizes will be on offer so you don’t waste your time. Even if the event sounds perfect, on the day you may find that your dream style doesn’t actually work when you try it on. If it’s just not right for your shape and style, move on because there are plenty more beautiful dresses out there. If it’s a problem with the fit of the gown, take advice from the experts – the team at the store. They are able to judge how much work is needed, so if they tell you the level of alterations will be very costly and/or risk ruining the line of the gown, then walk away from the deal. And never buy a gown on the promise that it will look great once you’ve dieted – it should make you feel confident from the moment you put it on.
3. Dress for success
Sale shopping events are rarely the typical bridal fitting experience, so give yourself the best chance of checking that a dress works by dressing for success. First and foremost, choose the right sale shopping underwear – neutral (flesh tones are best) well-fitting and figure flattering are the golden rules. If you know you want to wear a certain heel height, take along a pair of similar shoes that you can try with the dress.
4. Don’t take a crowd
It is a fact of life that one or two people can be great if you are trying to reach a decision, whereas four or five will have seven different opinions. Most designers and boutiques would really rather you took along one trusted companion and often they will stipulate the number of guests you can bring. As experts in the trials and tribulations that brides go through, they know that travelling with a committee of critics is never the way to find your perfect match – this holds true at any time, not just sale events. As one leading wedding store owner told us: “What tends to happen is that the bride becomes confused and stops trusting her own judgement – even though she’s the one who will be wearing the dress on the day.”
5. Take a reality check
We’ve all let the scent of a bargain overwhelm our good judgement at some point in our lives, but this is not the time to take a punt. As a rule of thumb, wedding dress sale shopping is for you if you know what you are looking for and don’t mind a busy atmosphere. It may be best avoided if you find sale events stressful and/or are still unsure about the style of gown you are after. Above all, don’t settle for second best. As one designer says: “A sale gown is only a true bargain if you would have happily paid full ticket price for it.”