When it comes to wedding dresses, the process is more like shopping for haute couture than shopping for jeans. Traditional bridal salons make you clip into a sample and wait months for your gown to be made to order and tailored to your exact measurements instead of picking your size off a rack. Another unique aspect of wedding dress shopping? It's a trunk show!
What is a trunk show?
When a bridal salon holds a trunk show, they have a more complete selection of gown samples from a particular designer on hand. Trunk shows often have discounts on styles. For someone who likes a certain designer, a trunk show is a great chance to see more of their styles. For someone who's starting from scratch, it's not the best first appointment.
What happens at this event?
Understanding how bridal salon inventory works is crucial to understanding why trunk shows are so important to the business model. Let's say a designer makes 15 new gowns every season. There are usually between 5 and 8 of those designs in a store. A sample of a gown will be sent if we like it. It's our in-store sample, and we order them their own gown in their size after they try it on.
Trunk shows are when designers send samples of their entire collection or line to a salon for a designated period of time (usually a weekend), giving brides-to-be the chance to try on more styles. There's a good chance the collection will include newest styles from Bridal Fashion Week, as well as reception dresses (also called "second looks") and bridesmaids' gowns, if they offer them. Trunk shows are thought to get their name from the trunks these collections were sometimes shipped in. A brand representative or even the designer himself or herself may be on hand to offer styling tips and, in some cases, discuss gown customization options.
Trunk Show Shopping Tips
You shouldn't make this your first salon visit.
A trunk show focuses on a specific brand, so first-time shoppers looking to try on a wide range of styles might not benefit from them. The best way to see all the options from a brand all at one time is to attend a trunk show if you've already been to a salon and found your top few dresses are all from the same designer.
Research is important.
As soon as you have selected your designer of choice, you should visit their website to find out when their trunk show will be in your area. If your brand doesn't have them posted, check to see what retailers they have in areas of the country where you'd consider shopping. If that designer is scheduled for a trunk show within your shopping window, you can contact the individual salons. The salons you originally planned to visit may not be available now, but that's totally fine.
Make your appointment ASAP, but be considerate of others.
During a trunk show, salons usually take the same amount of appointments as they do on any other weekend. Because you'll be competing against regular shoppers and fans of the designer, you'll want to book your appointment right away.
We recommend holding off if you're only lukewarm about a designer, or if their prices are too high. It's probably not a good idea to take an appointment from someone who doesn't know what they want.
Take advantage of on-site opportunities.
If you love the skirt of one gown and the top of another, you might wonder if the two can be combined. A designer or brand representative will have the most insight into what's possible when it comes to altering a gown style, so if either is present at the trunk show, now is the time to ask. If you need something from the designer, don't be afraid to ask. You won't know unless you ask, but they might not always be willing to accommodate!
There's no need to feel pressured to ask lots of questions if you're not genuinely interested. It's nice to have someone there to assist with styling sometimes. It is easy for a designer to suggest hairstyles or accessories if they have seen their dresses on a lot of people.
Be prepared to make a purchase when you arrive.
Trunk shows are one of the few opportunities to shave money off your major attire expense, so come ready to officially say "yes" to the dress with your VIPs on board. If you cannot make a decision without a certain friend, family member, or the person paying for your dress, this is the appointment for them.
Perks of Shopping During a Trunk Show
Trunk shows offer a number of benefits! It is common for trunk shows to offer brides incentives, allowing them to get the best possible price for their dresses. Even some designers offer complimentary veils or free customizations. A designer or stylist attending the event gives brides the opportunity to learn directly from the experts!
Fortunately for our brides, we’ve come some incredible trunk shows coming up here at Studio I Do! Our next one will take place October 28-30 and will feature beautiful gowns from Essense of Australia. Click here if you want more information!