Weddings 101: Bridal Trunk Show Tips

Sure it sounds fun, but what the heck is a trunk show?
Cincinnati wedding trunk show

With Bridal Show Season comes the equally exciting Trunk Show Season. It sounds fun and exclusive for sure (shopping! pretty dresses!), but really, what the heck is a trunk show?

A trunk show is when a designer brings their newest collection to shops all around the country—sometimes in trunks. It’s an opportunity for brides to see and try on dresses that aren’t yet available in stores, so it can be a pretty special event.

Most designers send their trunk show gowns to select locations for only one to three days (usually over a weekend), so when you see a good show coming up, take advantage!

What to expect

The good stuff is usually front and center
We stopped by Bridal and Formal to check out a recent trunk show, and the first thing we noticed were Maggie Sottero’s trunk show gowns prettily displayed in the front alcove, right across from Badgley Mischka’s gorgeous new collection (also from a recent trunk show). Boutiques book trunk shows 6-8 months in advance, so there may be multiple shows going on at once!

Rub elbows with the designers
Often, one of the designer’s representatives (or sometimes the designer themselves!) will be present to offer recommendations for styling and options for customizing the gown to best suit you. Say hello! They’re experts, and they want to hear from you just as much as you want to talk to them.

Explore a bit
Depending on the boutique, you’ll be able to try on pieces from the trunk show as well as any other gowns and accessories they carry. Most Cincinnati bridal boutiques will allow you to try on anything from any designer in the shop whether there’s a trunk show going on or not. They want you to find the perfect dress, no matter who makes it!

How to prepare

See who’s showing
It never hurts to plan ahead, so if you have a favorite designer in mind, check their website to see if they’ll be hosting a trunk show in your area. Many wedding boutiques will also post a trunk show schedule on their website or Facebook page.

If you see a trunk show for an unfamiliar designer coming up, check the brand’s website and see if you like their overall style. That will help you narrow down your options and prevent “dress fatigue”—there’s no point in going to the show of a designer who specializes in elaborate beading if your style is more simple and sleek.

Make an appointment
Trunk shows for popular designers fill up quickly, and though most boutiques will try to accommodate walk-ins, you’re sure to get individual attention and a more pleasant experience if they’re expecting you. Like most retailers, bridal boutiques are usually most crowded on the weekends, so if you’d like a more relaxing experience, go during the week.

Dress the part
Bring or wear a shoe with a similar heel height and whatever foundation garments you’re planning to wear on your big day. For instance, if you’re planning to wear Spanx at your wedding, wear Spanx to try on dresses. Conversely, DON’T wear special shaping garments if you’re NOT planning to wear them on your wedding day—you want the fit to be as accurate as possible.

While you’re there

When it comes to styles, take a chance and go outside your safety zone!

Trust the pros
Be willing to trust your sales consultant and take their advice. They know what fits different body types, which designers specialize in a certain style, and they’re trained to be honest about what looks good and what doesn’t. Take a chance and go outside your safety zone!

Take your time
Expect to spend about one-and-a-half hours looking at gowns and trying on different styles. Most designers send 15-30 dresses, and it takes a while to get a good look at everything. Depending on the crowd, you may have to wait to try on the dress of your dreams. No problem, just keep browsing and enjoy a glass of bubbly while waiting your turn. You don’t want to rush through this experience!

Be respectful
Keep in mind that this is real life, not a reality TV show. Traveling with an entourage and several cases of wine is distracting and inconveniences everyone around you—save that for the bachelorette party. Bring your maid of honor and your mom, or two to three people close to you who will be honest and supportive.

Be ready to buy
The featured gowns are usually not part of the boutique’s current inventory, so they’ll only be available to see and try on during the trunk show. If you love it, order it now—there may be special trunk show pricing that’s only available during this time frame. By the time the dress is available again months later, it may be at a higher price, so be prepared to commit if you find something you love.

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