Wedding dresses marked down for a clearance sale are a goldmine find. When you buy a stunning wedding dress on sale, the savings instantly impacts your wedding budget. That's money freed up for other wedding purchases or money you can sock away in your first savings account as a married couple.
Unlike department stores, most bridal shops do not have clearance dresses continuously on the sales floor. Instead, they hold their dresses until they have enough for a special event and then offer them at huge discounts. The dresses that end up in clearance sales at bridal boutiques include:
- Dresses from cancelled weddings
- Returned dresses
- Sample dresses that have been dirtied or slightly damaged
- Discontinued dresses
- Out of style dresses
Sometimes wedding dresses that will eventually be on clearance are kept in a backroom. If you happen to be in the store or area, call to find out if you can get a look at any dresses that have been discounted or are being held for a clearance. Managers and owners may want to get rid of their extra stock and offer a deal even if there is not an official clearance sale going on at the time.
Pros and Cons of Clearance Wedding Dresses
While many women might only see the pros of buying a wedding dress on clearance, they fail to remember there might be a few negatives, too.
Pros of Clearance Dresses
The biggest advantage of buying a clearance dress is the savings. A dress on clearance will often be 50 to 75 (or more) percent off. This is the perfect way to get a designer wedding dress at an affordable price.
Make shopping a clearance sale easier by trying on different dresses beforehand so you know what style and designer fit your body best. This will make any hassle fighting crowds much easier to navigate. It will be worth it when you find your dream dress for hundreds, even thousands, off the suggested price.
Cons of Clearance Dresses
While most brides only see the dollar signs disappearing when talking about clearance wedding dresses, they should keep in mind the dresses may not be all they have dreamed of for their big day. Disadvantages of buying a wedding dress on clearance might be:
- Difficult to remove stains, like lipstick and foundation
- Dress samples usually only come in a few sizes, so if you need a petite or plus size wedding dress, you may have difficulty finding dresses at a clearance sale
- The dress choices are often limited
- Dress styles may be slightly outdated
- Rips or tears may be present in the dress and be in need of repair
- Beading, embroidery and sequins may be damaged or coming off
- Clearance items may not be returnable or come with any service guarantees
Dresses that are on clearance are often cheap, but you may end up paying more for alterations and repairs. You also might have to hit a lot of sales to find a dress in your size that you like.
Going Out of Business Clearance
A bridal shop that is going out of business may put their entire inventory on clearance. Because the shop is going out of business, transactions are often cash only, meaning you must be able to pay for the entire dress in full at the time of purchase. These can be very cheap wedding gowns with drastically slashed tags - often up to 80 and 90 percent off.
The problems with buying a dress from a bridal boutique that is going out of business are that you have almost no options if there is a problem with the dress ("all sales final" is often the policy), and you must find your own seamstress for alterations.
Sample Clearance Blowouts
Big retailers often have massive clearance blowout events. These events may involve very limited shopping time, few (if any) private dressing rooms and massive lines to get into the store. Women come from all over the country to attend the sample sales held at places like Kleinfeld Bridal and Filene's Basement. The Filene's event is known as the "Running of the Brides."
Women who have their heart set on a designer dress should sign up to be on mailing and calling lists or make friends with a clerk who can slip them inside information on when and where an event like this will be held, especially if they must plan a trip from out of town. Local wedding dress shops may have similar sales, so be sure to ask.
Get to the store early and bring your own friends. To make the most of these sales, arm your friends with photo(s) of dresses you are interested in and your size.
Investigating clearance wedding dresses is a good way to buy a wedding dress without breaking your budget. Be sure to check a favorite online retailer for clearance sale gowns as well as local and national retailers to find the best deals for beautiful gowns.