If you pride yourself on your bargain hunting skills, odds are you've entertained shopping a sample sale for your wedding day. We know what you're thinking—sample sales usually resemble your local mall's Black Friday blowouts, packed with brides who will do anything for the perfect dress. But, like any shopping experience, sample sale styles vary by salon. We checked in with Gabriella Risatti, owner of Gabriella New York Bridal Salon, for a preview of six of the best sale gowns (in the gallery below) and to get the scoop on what her winter sale is like for brides.
MSW: What's the vibe like at a Gabriella New York Bridal Salon sample sale?
GNY: While the sample sale is a high energy experience, we do limit the amount of guests allowed in the salon at one time in order to maintain a nice experience for each bride. Our goal is to make sure that every bride can speak to one of our bridal consultants to address any questions she may have. It's actually a really fun day at the salon!
MSW: What are some of the differences between a regular shopping experience at the salon and going the sample sale route?
GNY: During the sale, we only allow brides to try on gowns that are available for sample sale purchase. We are happy to book appointments for brides who would like to return to try on our made-to-order gowns. Rather than each bride having her own consultant in a private appointment, there will be five consultants floating throughout the fitting rooms to help brides choose the dress. We allow each bride to choose three dresses to try on at a time but the consultants will also pull additional selections during their visit and they can go back and choose different gowns as many times as they like. We open up the curtains in our fitting rooms to create two large semi-private fitting areas for trying on the gowns. We have found that the brides actually really love this set up because they often "swap" gowns with each other in the fitting room!
MSW: Tell us about the discounts!
GNY: Sample sale gowns are discounted up to 70% off or more! Because we are a small boutique with limited storage space, we need to sell our samples to make room for new gowns. Its always tough to say goodbye to some of last season's styles, but we find comfort in knowing that they are going to very deserving brides.
MSW: Samples really go through a ton of wear and tear. What repair and alteration help does GNY give for samples that need some major TLC?
GNY: When a bride purchases a gown with us at the sample sale, we provide a $100 gift card to either J. Scheer or Madame Paulette for cleaning the gowns along with a list of recommended seamstresses that are the best in New York City for alterations. Our consultants are very knowledgable regarding what types of repairs and alterations can be made. We will also have a representative from J. Scheer and a seamstress present during part of the sale to see brides in the gowns and give them an idea of what kind of alterations would need to be done on their gown.
MSW: Most people think of sample gowns as being model size. What sizes are the dresses going to be in at the sample sale?
GNY: Our sample gowns range in size from a bridal 8-12. It depends upon the gown, but typically if you are a dress size 10 or smaller, our sample sale is a great opportunity for you.
MSW: Last but not least, what about finishing touches? Any accessories or veils on sale?
GNY: We will be selling Aruna Seth shoes at 50% off. Discontinued accessories and veils from Malis Hendersen, Sara Gabriel, and more will be part of our sample sale like the Donielle Veil by Sara Gabriel (originally $255; now $127.50) and the Nora Combs by Sara Gabriel (originally $183; now: $91.50).