If you are reading this article, then you most likely have already passed the "honeymoon stage" of being engaged and are now in over your head with wedding planning. You’ve built your dream wedding board on Pinterest, recruited your wedding party, and are getting into the nitty gritty of finding and hiring the vendors who will bring your wedding vision to life.
One of the easiest and most fun ways to find the quality vendors you need with the best deals is by attending bridal shows. We have teamed up with Sarah Arnold, President of CNY Show Promoters and producer of Wedding World Expo, to give you the expert advice you need to be as prepared as possible at your next wedding event!
Do some research before you go. Will you need to pay for a ticket to attend the bridal show? Does the bridal show make an effort to recruit quality, reputable vendors? Is the bridal show being held close to home, or will you have to road trip across the state to get there? Make sure you have a good idea of some basic details before you go! When it comes to bridal shows - like wedding planning itself - it is always best to be prepared..
Bring your VIP’s with you. Attending a bridal show is jumping into an overflow of information and mass people to meet. It’s always good to have a support team with you, whether it’s your mom, your bridesmaids, or even your fiancé. They can help you talk with vendors, collect information you may have missed, and ultimately make it a fun day out!
Arrive early. Most bridal shows will offer swag bags to the first few hundred guests who walk through the doors. Not only will this be a convenient place to stick all those brochures and goodies you collect throughout the day, but they will also have information on vendors who may not be physically attending the show. Sometimes you’ll find some giveaways or coupons too that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise! Bonus points if the swag bag is a reusable bag that you can use later for the gym or groceries.
Plan to be at the bridal show for the long haul. Make a day of it! This is especially fun when you bring your bridal entourage along with you. Bridal shows often have showcases, how-to's, giveaways, bridal fashion shows, and more planned to keep you educated and entertained throughout the day. Mix up visiting vendor booth spaces with checking out demonstrations or live shows to keep you from feeling overwhelmed - and have fun!
Don’t be intimidated by vendors. Remember that you are at a bridal show, not swimming in the middle of a shark tank. The vendors who attend these shows are there because besides the obvious of wanting to grow their business, they genuinely want to talk with you about your wedding and find ways they can best be of service to you. They want to learn how - and if - they are the right fit for you and your fiance. Remember they are people too, so don't be afraid to talk with them!
Create a separate email address for all things wedding planning. You can make an email account for free through sites like Gmail. Make it something easy to remember, including info like your last names and your wedding date. You would not believe how much of your sanity you will save by organizing your wedding emails this way. If you’re not sure how to go about it, you can always have your wedding planner help you through the process (or even create an account for you!).
Have labels printed with all of your basic contact information. This includes you and your fiancé’s name, your wedding date, the best phone number to contact you, your wedding email address, and any other little tidbits you may want vendors to know. Most vendors will ask for basic contact information to add you to a promotional list, mark you down as a potential lead, or even be booked for their products or services. Save yourself some time and a serious writer's cramp with this quick and easy fix. Trust us, it's definitely worth it!
Don’t leave your checkbook at home. You may think you’re doing yourself and your budget a big favor by leaving your money at home and using this time to “just browse,” but you may actually cost yourself more money in the end. A lot of vendors offer expo-only deals and promotions which can often save you hundreds. As long as you are ready to make some serious vendor commitments, bringing your checkbook or credit card along with you is the right idea.
Make sure you’re keeping updated with the social media accounts of the bridal show itself. Some bridal shows and expos will run social media giveaways throughout the event, so make sure you’re checking every once in awhile to see what you could win!
Make time to digest everything. Give yourself some dedicated quiet time when you get home to sort through all the goodies and information in your swag bag. We like to think of it like trick-or-treating: you spend your day of excitement collecting goodies and meeting new people, and then head home and sort through your bag to look through all the good stuff you found. Try to pick through any awesome giveaways and coupons first, and then sort through the information from the vendors who stand out to you. Try to decide what it is about certain vendors, products, or services that attracts you and how they may be the best fit for your wedding. Then you can make a list of who you'd like to contact, if you haven't already booked them at the show!
Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Remember that this is a day for you to really bask in the glory of getting married. Bridal shows are meant to give you an interactive, educational, and fun day of wedding planning. Talk to as many people as you can, don’t get yourself overwhelmed or worked up about the flood of information, eat some yummy food samples, take photos with your friends, relax, and have fun with it!
There are several different bridal shows that occur throughout the year, especially depending on where you live. We definitely recommend checking out Wedding World Expo at the New York State Fairgrounds - and are proud to be event sponsors for their fourth annual event! You will find incredible giveaways, the area's most trusted vendors, and awesome entertainment & demos throughout the day. Wedding World Expo is THIS SUNDAY, October 23rd from 12-4 PM.
We hope these tips help you best navigate the next bridal show you attend, no matter what or where it may be. Have you attended a bridal show and have anything to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!
Courtney & Sarah