How different is the actual gown from the sample?
I know it sounds CRAZY, but often the sample dress you are ordering from looks different from the actual gown once it’s made. This variation can be very slight and hardly noticeable or can be a completely different color or fabric. Even normal wear and tear can cause the sample to seem different than an actual gown based on it. So, it is important to know what to expect before you put the deposit down.
Here’s an inside tip about how I learned this the hard way during my first year of owning my own bridal salon. When designers first produce samples for a new gown, they often haven’t fully perfected the manufacturing behind it. The manufacturing process doesn’t necessarily get perfected until actual orders come in, so inevitably, somewhere in some magical back room, someone realizes something about the original production design that doesn’t make sense… and they change it. Vera Wang maids would do this to me all the time… they would ship me samples and show the dress on the website one way, but when it came to the actual production, something was different… not all color choices were available, or the flower pin was for the runway only, or there would one less ruffle tier! Luckily, most brides trust Vera Wang’s reputation and vision for her gowns, and so they were ok with it.
A good rule of thumb: the older the sample, the more changes you’ll see. When a dress is new, it tends to be a little stiff, and this stiffness softens over time. Also, colors fade and dresses get dirty… has the dress you are trying on ever been cleaned? This too might alter the color beyond a simple dye lot variation. Is the finish on the hem the same? From time to time, designers change production facilities or fabric distributors, which can slightly alter the feel of the gown.
If your salesperson doesn’t know the answer, then ask the owner/manager. If need be, you can always call the designer directly. Understanding what changes to expect will help alleviate any misunderstandings when your dress arrives.
Keep in mind, lace patterns do vary slightly and that’s impossible to predict. As long as it’s the same type of lace ( chantilly, alencon etc..) you’ll be fine.
It’s important to love the dress because of how it makes you look, and that won’t change from the sample to your gown. However, if you fell in love with the dress because of the color of the fabric or the way it felt, then you might be better off just buying the sample!
I would love to hear your experiences, please post it below!