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Frequently Asked Questions

(Click on the question below to see the answer.)

What is a sample gown?

Every year, bridal salons purchase between six and sixteen wedding gowns in sizes 8-12 representing that designer’s latest collection.  The bridal salons then use these gowns as “samples” for brides to try on and to then take orders on them. 

As time goes on, the bridal salon may wish to sell some of these sample wedding gowns for a variety of reasons- the gown may be discontinued by the designer, they may need to make room for new inventory or perhaps the salon has stopped carrying that designer all together.  Please see Sample Gowns 101 for more information.

Where does Bride Couture get their gowns from?

Bride Couture gets their gowns from upscale bridal salons nationwide who have excess inventory for a variety of reasons - the gown may be discontinued by the designer, they may need to make room for new inventory or perhaps the salon has stopped carrying that designer altogether.  We only buy gowns that are in very good to pristine condition and will disclose any imperfections.

How often does Bride Couture get new bridal gowns in?

We are constantly updating the website as gowns sell and new gowns come in, so the Gown Catalog should always reflect what is currently in stock.  Bride Couture gets new gowns in every 4 to 8 weeks and new gowns will be added to the end of the gown search results for that particular designer.  

What condition are the gowns in?

The condition of sample gowns can vary significantly based on how long the salon has had the gown and how much it was tried on.  Gowns may have some dust on the hem (which usually is cut off when the gown is altered) or a few missing beads but Bride Couture only buys gowns that are in very good to pristine condition and will disclose any imperfections.

My favorite gown is no longer on the website.  Can you get another one?

Since we specialize in sample gowns, we tend to only get one of each gown. Once that gown has sold, it may never come in again.  So, if you think you have found the one, don’t hesitate to purchase it.  Bride Couture has a wonderful Return Policy, so if you order a gown and it doesn't work out for any reason you can return it for a full refund minus shipping cost.

How long will it take to receive my gown once I order it?

All of the gowns on our website are available and ready to ship, so gowns are typically mailed within 1-7 days of placing your order.  Gowns are sent via FedEx ground out of Poway, CA so depending on where the gown is going it can take 2-5 days to arrive after being mailed.  This is a huge plus for brides who don’t have time to wait the 4 to 8 months it takes to order a new gown!  Please see our Policies page for more details on shipping.

What if there is more than 1 gown that I like and I want to try them both?

As an ongoing special service to our brides you can order up to 4 gowns at once for a deposit equal to the cost of the most expensive gown.  Please see “Ordering Multiple Gowns” on our Policies page for details.

What about alterations and sizing?

There are two sizes that describe a wedding dress.  The size on the label and the buyer’s typical or “street” size, which is the size you would purchase most often if shopping at stores such as The Gap or H&M.  All wedding gowns run small.  So a label size 10 is more like a “street” size 8 or 6 depending on the designer.  Even when ordering a brand new gown, alterations will need to be made so the gown fits perfectly.

Sample size wedding gowns are generally size 8 to 12.  If you are a smaller size, gowns can be sized down a few sizes or up one or two sizes by a professional wedding gown seamstress.  So, if you wear a street size 4, a sample size 10 can likely be altered to fit.  You should always make sure the sample wedding gown you have selected can be altered to fit you.  Since Bride Couture has a Satisfaction Guarantee Policy, you can even schedule an appointment with a seamstress during the 3 day grace period to make sure the alterations can be done.

If there is a specific gown you are interested in and you have questions regarding alterations, please Contact Us by using the inquiry link for that gown.  Each designer has its own size chart, but generally sizing is fairly consistent between designers.  Whether or not the alterations can be done depends on the gown and designer; so if there is a gown that you are concerned about the sizing, please don’t hesitate to ask. 

Should I take my own measurements?

Although using the “street size” is a fairly good measure of whether or not a gown will fit, you can always have someone else measure you to get a more exact idea. 

Using a measuring tape, have someone else measure:

  • Bust - Run the tape along the fullest part of your breast and around your back going under your arms. (Not your bra size) 

  • Waist - Find the smallest part of your waist, it is usually just above your belly button 

  • Hips - Find the widest part of your hips on the hip bone.

What are some of the typical alterations made to a gown?

All gowns, even new gowns ordered to size, will require alterations to fit perfectly.  Here are some of the normal alterations that will be made so your gown fits like a glove. 

  1. Side seams and Back Seams - The side seams and back seams in the torso can be taken in or let out to make a wedding dress fit a bride. This is true even for gowns ordered to size. Wedding gowns are usually made to allow the side seams to be let out up to 3 inches or 1-2 sizes*. 
Additionally, the back seam often can be let out slightly to size up further. 
*Depending on the gown
  2. Shoulders - It is also common for shoulder seams to be taken in to bring up a gown.

  3. Hem - The length of a dress can be shortened only and is affected by the height of the shoe you are planning to wear. Some gowns can only be shortened from the waist. Other gowns can only be shortened by taking up the hemline.
Bustle - The bustle is a way to hook the train up in the back so that the dress can be worn comfortably after the ceremony. Bustling a dress is part of the alterations for any gown that has an attached train

Am I able to make minor alterations to a gown like adding sleeves or removing a train?

There are easy ways to customize a sample gown if you wish to add or remove sleeves or shorten a train.  Here are a few examples of what can be done to most gowns:

Adding straps (spaghetti, cap sleeves, etc.) to a strapless gown
Shortening the length of the train or removing the train altogether
  • Removing sleeves such as long sleeves, cap sleeves, etc. to make the gown strapless
  • Modifying short or long sleeves to cap sleeves or tank style
  • Changing an A-line gown to a dropped waist or trumpet style

Although most of these modifications can be made to any gown, you should always check with a seamstress to make sure because every gown is different.

When should I have my gown altered?

You should have an initial consultation with a reputable wedding gown seamstress about 2-3 months before your wedding and take your wedding shoes with you.  We recommend contacting the seamstress you plan to use as early as possible to find out when you should schedule your first fitting with them.  Every seamstress will vary in the number of fittings and the amount of time it will take to alter your gown.  If you plan on losing weight or your weight fluctuates easily you may want to wait until you’ve reached your ideal weight before starting alterations.  Keep in mind that you will require 2-3 fittings so leave plenty of time. 

How much will alterations cost?

A number of factors determine the overall cost of alterations including where you live, the quality of your seamstress and the details and construction of your gown.  Changing the style of the gown (adding sleeves, etc.) can also increase the cost.  Below are some guidelines to give you an idea of how much seamstresses generally charge for each type of alteration:

  • Hem (alters length) $75.00 and up

  • Side Seams/backseams: (alters fit of bodice) $45.00 and up

  • Shoulders: (raises gown up) $25.00 and up

  • Sleeves: (to alter length) $35.00 and up

  • Sleeves: (to change style) $40.00 and up

  • Bustle: (keeps train up for ceremony) $85.00 and up 
    The style of bustle will vary depending on the length of the train, the silhouette of the gown, and the fabric. Your seamstress will help you decide which bustle is best for your dress.

  • Bra Cups: $25.00 and up

What about pressing?

Pressing for any gown is done after alterations and a few days before your wedding.  It can be done either by your seamstress or a dry cleaner. Be sure to ask your seamstress whether they will be pressing the gown and what the additional charge is for this service.  If the wedding will be in another state/country other than where the alterations are being done you might want to find someone local to press your gown.  Depending on the gown the seamstress may be able to press it and have you carry it on the plane without messing it up.  The pressing should be done as close to the wedding date and the wedding site as possible. Be sure to find out in advance how much time they will need to press the gown. Some places will require the gown 72 hours before the wedding.

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