Here's the Difference Between Trunk Shows and Sample Sales

You never know—you could find your dream dress at a local trunk show. Here's everything you should know.
woman trying on wedding dresses with designer
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Maggie Seaver is an Associate Digital Editor at
  • Maggie writes about life, career, health, and more.
  • Maggie was an editor at The Knot from 2015 to 2019.

Attending a local trunk show of one of your favorite wedding dress designers maximizes your chances of finding a dress you love. But if the thought of actually going to a bridal trunk show feels daunting, we're here to answer your questions, calm your anxieties and help you navigate them like a pro. So, first things first...

What is a trunk show?

A wedding dress trunk show is a special event at which a wedding dress designer, or one of their reps or stylists, visits a bridal boutique on a set day with their entire line of new wedding dresses. To-be-weds then schedule appointments at the salon during the event to peruse the collection, try on dresses and meet with the designer.

When and where are they held?

Call local bridal boutiques and department store bridal salons to see when and if there are trunk shows scheduled, and with which designers. Most salons will also share trunk show information on their websites, if they have one. Trunk shows are planned well in advance, so stores should be able to give you a list of dates and designers. The shows last anywhere from one to a few days, and appointments fill up quickly—so book an appointment early.


How is a trunk show different from shopping at a bridal salon?

Most bridal salons only carry a limited selection of wedding gowns from a select group of designers. Trunk shows give you a chance to try on a wide range of dresses from a specific designer that may not all normally be in that particular store. If you've been eyeing a certain designer, this is the best way to see their work in person, try on different styles and seal the deal on your favorite. Even if you walk out empty handed, you'll get a better sense of whether or not that's the designer for you—sometimes things look different on Instagram or in a magazine than they do on your body, which is always good to know.

What are some of the perks of a trunk show?

You, the shopper, will benefit because you'll get to talk to the actual designer about the gowns and any changes you may want to make to one you're eyeing. Designers benefit from holding shows because they get to watch brides try on their gowns and listen to their comments. It's a great opportunity for them to learn directly from the consumer. The bridal salon benefits because it gets to show—and possibly sell—dresses that aren't part of its regular stock. And sometimes, discounts are offered if a dress is bought during the duration of the trunk show.

What's the difference between a trunk show and a sample sale?

A sample sale is when a bridal salon sells the dresses already at the store to brides at a deep discount. These dresses are called samples because they're the ones brides try on in store before ordering a new version with their specific alterations and/or embellishments.

A trunk show isn't technically a sale at all since the dresses are not marked as discounted. But, most trunk shows do offer a discount for placing your order on the spot (sometimes up to 20 percent), so don't be shy about asking. Even if the salon doesn't offer a discount, the designer may throw in a few extras (a veil, buttons down the back, additional length on the sleeves or train) without charging you more. These might seem like small savings at the time, but they could make a big difference if you're working with a tight budget (extras definitely add up!).

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