Congratulations, you’re engaged! Wow, you have a lot to do over the next few months!
Before you got that gorgeous ring on your finger, you probably didn’t realize how much work wedding planning would be. Luckily, bridal shows are a huge help, saving you time, money and effort–as long as you prepare!
Much like speed-dating, a bridal show gives you the chance to meet many wedding professionals in a short amount of time. In one day, you’ll have the opportunity to taste an array of cakes, smell fresh bouquet flowers and see different photography styles.
Also called a bridal fair or wedding expo, bridal shows are perfect for helping you plan because they brings a variety of wedding professionals together in one place. Larger events often include a fashion show of the latest styles and trends in bridal and formalwear. Looking for bridal shows to attend? Check here.
Prepare Before You Go
It’s a good idea to do a little homework ahead of the bridal show to ensure that you’ll get the most out of the event. “Take advantage of this opportunity of having a variety wedding professionals in one location by planning ahead,” says Nicky Wilkinson, publisher of Iowa’s Corridor Wedding Guide. “The more you know about how you want your wedding will help determine which wedding professionals you’ll want to talk with at the show.”
Helpful things to consider before you attend a bridal show include figuring out your wedding date, an overall wedding budget, the type of wedding venue or location you like, as well as your wedding style.
Know what you want to get out of the bridal show and plan which wedding professionals you would like to meet. “Research and read reviews of the vendors you are interested in,” says Nicky. “If you like what you see, add them to your list of vendors to talk with at the show.” If you need suggestions for questions to ask, here are lists you can print out.
If there are particular wedding professionals you want to meet, let them know you’ll be stopping by their booth. Some wedding professionals may even let you make an appointment.
Plan on taking the decision-makers. Bridal shows are a fun way to bond with your mom, bridesmaids and even your groom. Wear comfy shoes and remember to take a notebook and a pen or Sharpie. Some glossy business cards or brochures can be hard to write on, so a fine-tipped Sharpie can come in handy. Also, take a bag to carry your accumulated materials, in case the bridal show does not offer one.
At The Bridal Show
Bridal shows are usually pretty busy, full of excited brides and grooms eager to knock off some of their wedding planning to-dos. If you’re not a fan of big crowds, plan ahead to avoid them as much as possible. “Sometimes it can be a mad rush of people when the doors open, so show up an hour or so after the show starts,” suggests Carissa Kruse, owner of Weddings by Carue. “And have your list of the wedding professionals you want to make sure to chat with when you get to the bridal show.” Crowds are usually heaviest near the fashion show, so use that time to visit booths in the back.
“Aim to engage in good conversations with the wedding professionals while at the bridal show. Ask questions and try out their products,” says Chris Appleby, owner of Cheeky Booth Photo Booth Rentals. “If you’re just picking up business cards or brochures, you’re not getting any more value than you would with a Google search. Make it your goal to accomplish the things you can’t do electronically.”
“If you know what you want, some vendors offer discounts or specials for booking at the show. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, and want more “time” with vendors, try coming later in the show, after most of the people have cleared out,” suggests Nicky.
Be open to visiting new vendors you didn’t know you wanted. A huge benefit to attending a bridal show is seeing all the different options that are available to you as you plan your wedding. “Be open to new ideas. A lot of times, we have brides that come in with one style of gown in mind, and after trying on others, change their minds,” says Dayna Harrington of Elegant Repeats and Elegant Bridal. “It’s good to go in with some ideas but always be open to new points of view. You may find something you love that you would have never thought of before.”
“Embrace the entire day and enjoy your self Allow plenty of time to talk to the vendors that you think can benefit you. Many offer really good bridal show deals you won’t want to pass up,” says Tami Mysak, Banquet Sales Manager at the Best Western PLUS Longbranch.
Bring preprinted labels with your name, wedding date and contact information to save time when signing up for special drawings that exhibitors may have at their booths. However, don’t feel pressured to sign up for every free offer–decide if you really want to win what that business is offering.
Ask before you take photos with your cell phone. Having a photo to jog your memory of who you talked with at the show can be helpful when you get home, though you’ll want to get permission before getting snap-happy at an exhibitor’s booth.
After The Bridal Show
Immediately after the show, make notes if you didn’t do so while you were at the show. Plan how you’ll use the information that you gathered.
“I tell brides get all the information at the show, then go home, throw everything on the floor,” says Elissa Lewis, owner of E’s Florals. “Sit down with a glass of wine or a beer and go through it. Whatever triggers a pleasant moment or memory with that piece of information, whether it’s a flyer, coupon, pen or a cupcake wrapper, follow up with that vendor.”
Follow up with any additional questions or to set up appointments with the wedding professionals that you liked. If you found a wedding professional that you absolutely love, don’t wait to book their services. You don’t want to lose out to other brides thinking the exact same thing.
With some preparation, you’ll get a lot of your wedding planning done at a bridal show. Which leaves you plenty of time to browse Pinterest for more ideas!