Sample Sale Tips

Wedding dress sample sale tips from Charlotte's Weddings in Portland, Oregon

As our regular busy season slows down, it’s time for us to gear up for our annual Sample Sale at Charlotte’s Weddings! We are excited to once again be hosting our incredible sample sale in May.  It is a great opportunity for brides to find the designer gown of their dreams for an incredible price, with many gowns priced up to 75% off their original price.

Sample sales are not like your regular gown shopping experience though, so read on to find out more about sample sales and some necessary tips to make your shopping experience an exciting AND successful one!



What is a “Sample Sale”?


If you’re new to the gown shopping world, then chances are you may not be entirely familiar with sample sales.  Sample sales are typically a one day event that are an opportunity for bridal stores to clear out their inventory and make room for the newest seasons of gowns that will be making their way into the stores, as well as a great way to find a beautiful dress at a great price.  At a sample sale, you will find the floor samples of gowns available for purchase at incredible discounts!  A floor sample is the gown that has been in the store for brides to try on before ordering their dream dress.  Typically the sample gowns available come from prior seasons that are either now discontinued, or being phased out to make room for newer styles.  At Charlotte’s, our sample sale gowns are available for discounts up to 75% off during this one-day event!



Sample Sizing – Things to Note


If you have been gown shopping in the past, then you may have discovered how different gown sizing in the bridal world can be.  If not, then it is important to note that bridal gowns size numbers typically run about two to three sizes larger than what you would wear in street clothes.  For example, if you typically wear a 6-8 in standard dresses, you can expect to be around a 10-12, maybe even a 14 in some styles in bridal wear.  When shopping a sample sale, we recommend trying gowns up a few sizes from what you wear normally so that you can really get a feel for the way gowns fit on you.  Additionally, you should know that every designer fits differently, so you may be one size in one designer, but a completely different size in another!



Alterations – Every Gown Needs Them


Any bridal gown will need some alterations prior to your wedding day. For starters, bridal gowns are typically cut long to allow room for a bride to wear heels if she’d like to, so at the very least you should expect to have a hem done on your gown.  Additionally, it is common to have a gown fit really well in one place, but need some minor adjustments in other places.  For example, the gown could fit perfectly through your hips, but be just a bit big in the bust which can be taken in during your alterations.  Lastly, almost every bridal gown will have a train. Trains are a beautiful part of a wedding gown and is one of the aspects that really separates a bridal gown from your typical evening dress.  You will love taking pictures with your train and walking down the aisle with it behind you, but you will definitely want to have a bustle put in during alterations for your reception to make it easier for you to walk around and enjoy your evening.  At the very least, a bustle is a necessary alteration for any bridal gown.

Alterations are a crucial part of getting the perfect fit in your wedding dress.  A wedding gown can typically be taken in up to two, sometimes three sizes if you fall in love with a gown that is too big!  It’s always possible to make a dress smaller, yet more difficult to let it out if it is too small.  Don’t be afraid to try on a gown that stands out to you on the rack if it’s a little big!  We will have consultants on hand during our sample sale, so any questions you have regarding alterations and what can be done to a gown can certainly be asked during the event!



Sample Gowns – A Little Love Will Do


Keep in mind that sample gowns have spent time on our sales floor, and have been tried on by other brides in the past.  With that said, these gowns may need some love to get fully ready for your big day.  We always recommend getting the gowns dry cleaned after purchase.  We send our gowns to Vermont Cleaners in SW Portland, and recommend them to take great care of your dream wedding dress!  Sample sale dresses are sold as is, so occasionally you may find small snags, loose buttons, or other areas that may need cosmetic repairs to make your gown look spic and span!  Your seamstress performing your other alterations will be able to help take care of those cosmetic repairs for you.



Sample Sale Day of – First Come, First Serve


Sample Sale day is full of energy and excitement and a plethora of brides eager to find their perfect gown.  Doors for our sample sale open to the public at noon, however preview hours are available to give you first pick at the gowns available!  Hour long slots at 9am, 10am and 11am are available to register for to ensure you and your party early access and a first look at what gowns are up for grabs. Consultants will be on hand to help you navigate styles and answer questions about gowns during the sample sale.  Keep in mind that space is tight on sample sale day.  We have rooms for you to change in, however it is highly likely that you will be sharing your changing space with other brides, so do dress accordingly!  With that in mind, keep your guest count small for this event, no more than 2 people in addition to yourself, as there won’t be a lot of available space for your guests.  We can always schedule you an accessories appointment for another date where you can bring back your gown and your whole party to look at veils, jewelry, etc.



Keep an Open Mind and Have Fun!


The most important tip we can give when it comes to shopping a sample sale is to have an open-mind when navigating your options!  Gowns will look so different on the hanger versus on you so don’t be afraid to try something on that’s outside of the box!  Have fun with the experience, our consultants will be available during the event to help you with any questions that arise as well as give you suggestions and advice to help you find your perfect gown!  Good luck, and may the sample sale odds be ever in your favor!