To buy or not to buy…a sample or second-hand wedding dress!

March 31, 2015 by Laura McFadden - No Comments

Now it may seem strange that I am writing a title like that when I am in the business of selling sample and second-hand wedding dresses – BUT – I wanted to give an honest and upfront account of how I view the process and to encourage all brides to be savvy when buying ANY wedding dress – whether it is a new, sample, or once-worn gown. I will always be a huge believer in buying sample and preloved gowns because it makes so much SENSE! It’s a savvy and cost-effective choice when you want a fabulous designer wedding dress.

Bristol Bridal Boutique is a business born from my desire for women to wear a wedding dress that is fabulous but isn’t out of reach due to its price. A gown which has been designed by a hugely talented and acclaimed designer, to wear fabrics that are of the highest quality which are constructed in a way that when put on, makes the wearer feel the best they can be.

So with that in mind there will likely be a price tag to match. But if you buy a sample from Bristol Bridal Boutique there will be up to 75% off the price tag if you were buying it new. Most of my dresses are samples which have only ever been tried on. A few are preloved gowns.

Sassi Holford - Ellie

As I have mentioned a few times before (!) I bought a sample wedding dress for my own wedding so I am coming from a position of experience. I also tried on lots of dresses in boutiques with a view to buying new – within reason as my budget was £1000. I think it comes down to common sense, confident decision making (not always so easy!) and asking lots of questions. I don’t believe there is ‘the one’ when it comes to buying a wedding dress. I believe there are lots of dresses out there that brides would love to wear on their wedding day but it comes down to a feeling you have in your belly that makes you pick the dress you will ultimately wear. My Mum always says “there will always be pretty things, you just have to make the decision as to which one you want!’ Wise words. And I will repeat a part of that statement…

‘…which one YOU want’

Lusan Mandongus LM2025

I had a client recently who wanted something completely different to what she thought many of her friends had worn in recent years. I was excited when she said this because all of my dresses vary quite a lot so I thought she would have fun trying on the different styles. She had been to other shops and had a good idea of what suited her. But she only had eyes for one…her future mother-in-law was with her and insisted she tried on another, just to humour her, but it was clear that she just wanted to put the first one back on! Her mother-in-law was amazing. She just said ‘get the one you love. It looks amazing.’ TEXTBOOK wedding dress purchase!

Rosa Clara Edith

There are always things to consider when buying a sample and here are the main points:

  • As a guide –  sample size wedding gowns will be designed for a bride to be a maximum height of 5’10” in heels. (Don’t worry if you are shorter as a gown can be shortened quite easily).
  • If you are shorter than 5’2” or taller than 5’10” you do need to be careful as the proportions of the dress ie. hips, waist and bust might not work.
  • If you are bigger than a DD bra cup size, the dress is unlikely to have enough room.


When you come to Bristol Bridal Boutique you will see that I run it from my home and therefore it isn’t going to be like an experience you have in a high street bridal shop – it will be better!! Well it will just be different. You will still get a glass of bubbly or a cup of tea BUT the dresses are at the higher end of the designer hierarchy but the more mid-range budget scale (£500 – £1500). What could be better?

It is very rare for any wedding dress – new, sample or once-worn –  to fit perfectly. It is worth remembering to set aside a small amount of your dress budget for alterations as this will then ensure the gown you choose will fit you perfectly. I offer all my clients the opportunity to have a no obligation appointment with my seamstress Susan Gilby – so that they feel confident that any alterations can be successfully carried out.

Have a look at the dresses. Tell your friends. Tell your work colleagues. Tell your cousin! The more choice the better in my opinion but if you are the kind of bride who wants the best for less then get in touch!

Happy Hunting!

Rosa Clara Edith