Do you have your eye on a gorgeous designer wedding gown but are worried about the financial impact it will have on your budget? Well, we have a tip for you – check out local bridal sample sales and trunk shows.  We are thrilled share some advice from Carine, owner of Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, D.C., who is offering some tips on “surviving” a sample sale. We are excited to share that Carine’s Bridal Atelier is currently in the middle of their National Bridal Sample sale at their new Georgetown Bridal Salon which everyone should make an appointment to visit ASAP! Sample sales present the opportunity for brides to get the couture look without the couture price tag.  On that note, take it away, Carine:



Credit: Lisa Boggs Photography from NMWA DC wedding

What exactly is a sample sale?
A sample sale is where we sell the actual floor sample gowns from our shop to make room for the new gowns.  I like to remain fashion forward with my gown selection, which means sample sales are necessary to make sure we have room for the new stock.  Sample sales are a great way for brides to purchase a high-end designer gown at a much lower price.

Are accessories available in a sample sale?
Yes, some accessories are usually included in our sample sale.  We have veils from an array of designers to choose from as well as Oscar de la Renta heels.  In regards of jewelry, we usually have an accessory sample sale at a  different time.  That way brides can focus on thing at a time; first the gown, then the accessories.  Our accessory designers include Homa, Tia Mazza, Peter Langner, Cheryl King, Paris and Siman Tu.

How can a bride prepare for attending a sample sale?
The best way to “prepare” for a sample sale is to come with an idea of what silhouette and style you are interested in.  Sample sales can be a bit hectic and overwhelming, especially if it is the first time a girl is trying on gowns.  Sample sales are best for the girl who knows what she wants, but might be on a tighter budget. Be prepared that dresses have been tried on previously and prepare mothers and appointment helpers in advance so that they don’t fret over any small imperfections during the appointment.

Are appointments shorter or longer at a sample sale vs. a regular appointment?
Our sample sales are first come, first serve.  We don’t have “appointments” per se at the sample sale.  We have bridal consultants floating around to help brides with any questions regarding the gowns.  It is always nice if the bride brings a sister or good friend to help with the actual trying on of the dresses; some of the more intricate gowns can be tricky to put on by yourself!  That being said, regular appointments in our salon are usually an hour long.

What should a bride-to-be wear to an appointment?
At our sample sale the store becomes one big fitting room, so it is very important for brides to wear undergarments they are comfortable being seen in. Also bring shoes that you feel are close to your comfortable height for the wedding day, as you want to ensure that the length is not too short or will need copious amounts of alternations which negates the sale price tag!

St-Francis-Wedding-DC-Danielle-Almond-Photo (7) bridal hair

Credit: Almond Photography from St. Francis Hall Wedding

For gown sizes, is there a certain “sample” size at the sales?  What sizes are usually available?
Yes, all of our sample gowns are in a bridal size 8 or 10, which transfers to ready-to-wear as a size 6 and 8. However you should check with the salon in advance of the sale to confirm their general sizing as each salon varies.

How many bridal gown designers are featured?
It just depends on our selection at the moment.  We currently carry Amsale, Berta, Carolina Herrera, Inbal Dror, Liancarlo, Kenneth Pool, Marchesa, Mira Zwillinger, Monique L’huillier, and Rivini. Our sample dresses are most of the above as well as Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Naeem Khan, and Ulla Maija.  We really do have a great selection of sample gowns.


Thank you so much, Carine!  If you are on the dress hunt, be sure to visit Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Georgetown for top wedding dress designers and gorgeous accessories. Looking for more?  Read Carine’s post with tips for dress shopping.

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