It’s not just the high street that love a good January sale, as many independent bridal boutiques use the beginning of the new year to host events with designer gowns at discounted prices to make way for new stock coming in through the following months.
Such dress sales see gowns by top designers reduced by up to 80% meaning brides really can have the gown of their dreams at a fraction of the price. But with so many differing styles to choose from and an on-the-day-decision required it’s good to go into these situations prepared.
As such we’ve called upon our super-knowledgeable Sponsor Hayley Hoyle – owner of independent Yorkshire boutiques The Harrogate Wedding Lounge and The Bridal Collection Harrogate – to share her sale shopping pearls of wisdom on the blog today. Furthermore, Hayley and her pro team will be hosting a huge sample sale for the two boutiques between Thursday 3rd January to Friday 11th January by appointment-only, with gorgeous dresses by some of our very favourite designers so trust us when we say that you need to check this out. Check out The Harrogate Bridal Outlet on Instagram for more.
Notebooks at the ready ladies!
Hayley says: In today’s world, a bride is faced with a huge number of options when it comes to deciding on her gown. Internet sellers, mass wedding dress outlets, the high street and independent boutiques all have their place and offer varying experiences and service levels. I can’t speak on the reliability or philosophies of these other shopping experiences but I can do my very best to educate people on the skills and expertise you will likely encounter if you entrust your bridal gown experience to an independent boutique.
You may have worked out by now, I am super passionate about supporting independent bridal retail. In a time such as this when experiences alone can drive and influence our purchasing decisions, yet the big players on the high street are failing to deliver anywhere near the excitement and emotion we desire, it’s here in these small, cosy, specialist and passionate independent boutiques where the real experience lives and it’s an experience that’s available to all – not just those with thousands to spend and two years until their wedding.
Boutique sample sales are the perfect opportunity to find your dream gown at a fraction of its original price AND you get to take it away on the day meaning you don’t have to compromise. You can still have a personal, intimate and specialist service with people who really know their craft all while knowing you got exceptional value for money, yes you really can have it all!
Typically, independent boutiques like the high street will kick the year off with a big sale so January is a great time to find your gown. Bargains are plentiful with discounts from 30% to 75% being common. You can find big bridal names including British designers, normally retailing for upwards of £3,000 reduced to a fraction of the price just waiting for the right bride.
Conditions of the samples will vary from as new to well loved. The team will be able to show you any defects and if and how they could be repaired. Most boutiques should also be able to offer a professional dry clean service too, if required, and either offer you an in-house alteration package or a number of trusted seamstresses who would be able to undertake your fittings. These are all things often forgotten about in the hunt for a bargain but are truly essential to a perfectly fitting gown and these are all things an independent boutique would typically do as standard.
With this in mind, here are my top tips for sample sale shopping in independent boutiques:
Do your research
Like any other bridal shopping I would recommend researching the right sample sale for you. Get in touch with the boutiques who stock the designers you like and chat about what’s heading in to the sale. We have just launched a sample outlet page on Instagram to show people a selection of the samples heading in to our sale, you can find it @Harrogate_Bridal_Outlet on Instagram. If you are not someone who is bothered about a particular label, make sure the styles on offer appeal to you. There is no point booking an appointment wanting a floaty two-piece to find they don’t have any in the sale when you get there.
Be honest and realistic
Whether you have £500, £1,000 or £3,000 to spend, whether you are a size 10, 14 or 22 and whether the wedding is next month, next year or if you are still finalising a date, it doesn’t matter. Please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to be honest with us, boutiques just want to be able to help you to the very best of our ability and we will likely have options for all scenarios as long as we know realistically what we are working to. If you are a UK 14 on the high street, it’s safe to assume in a bridal gown you will be a UK 14 or 16. Always size up when discussing sizing and check what styles boutiques have in your size if you are worried about choice.
Find out the process
Once you have decided on a sale event to attend find out the process. How long will you have to try on gowns, how many can you try and what assistance will you have? Does the sample sale include accessories such as veils and headwear, so you can complete your look all in one go? At our boutiques, brides have a full 90-minute appointment with one-on-one bridal styling during our sample sales and accessories are also included however the process will vary from boutique to boutique.
Trust me when I say a sample sale is not the place to ‘start your search’ or ‘get ideas’. Most samples are one offs so while it’s not essential that you have already tried dresses on it is important you are in a position to actually buy it because if YOU fall in love with it the chances are someone else would too and it won’t stay around long. Make sure you bring the relevant people with you to the appointment so you can feel confident in making the decision having them there. I recommend no more than three guests typically to avoid a fraught appointment and a barrage of opinions.
There are some amazing sample sales out there and some unbelievable bargains to be had so do you research, go prepared and come away with a steal all while being looked after by the specialist and knowledgeable teams in independent retail. Happy Shopping!
The Huge January Sample Sale
Where: The Bridal Collection, 29 Park Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5AG
When: Thursday 3rd January to Friday 11th January by appointment
Prices: Gowns from £299 discounts from 25% to 80%
Appointments: Our sample sales are hugely popular and always have a waiting list so please book early to avoid disappointment. Call us on 01423 202029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.