Couples who attend local bridal shows and expos will find an excellent way to get a handle on the wonderful world of wedding planning. The planning starts at least a year in advance. The average engagement in the United States is between 12-15 months. If you leave yourself plenty of time in advance of your wedding, you will benefit greatly from the time you spent at the bridal show.
Recently engaged couples who are in the early to mid stages of planning a wedding can meet and speak directly with many wedding event professionals – all in one place! Wedding expos feature the latest trends from cakes to limos to photography and video. Many bridal shows will have live band and DJ performances and/or fashion shows featuring the latest in bridal and tuxedo fashions. This is your opportunity to get ideas, gather information and compare services and prices.
Most bridal shows offer free magazines, prizes and honeymoon trips. Individual vendors may also offer discounts only available to bridal show guests. Going to a bridal show can be a lot of fun. Bring your mom, the groom and a bridesmaid or two…
How do I find a bridal show in my area? Most bridal expos will be listed in regional magazines. Bridal Show Producers International is the trade association for bridal show promoters. This directory lists bridal shows nationwide.
Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned veteran, the following tips will help make your bridal show experience both productive and enjoyable. Have a great time at the show!
- Be prepared to wait in line to register. Please be patient! This is well worth it. Your registration may entitle you to win door prizes and will allow vendors to get in touch with you after the show. Pre-registration on-line is offered by many wedding expo promoters, who usually give you a discounted ticket price pre-show.
- Ask your fiancé to come along. It is much more likely that you will be able to make a decision and book a vendor, if accompanied. The groom’s participation in wedding planning is growing. Today, about 30% of grooms accompany their brides to wedding shows.
- Plan to spend a minimum of three to four hours in order to see all the exhibits and the fashion show.
- Be prepared to wear a “Bride-To-Be” or “Groom” sticker to receive special attention from the vendors.
- Remember to bring a pen and notebook to take notes and make certain to write clearly.
- In addition to a pen and paper or notebook, bring along a clipboard to serve as a solid surface for you. It will be better than leaning on a friend’s back.
- If there is room, the best place to write notes about a vendor is right on the literature he or she gives you. It will help you after the show to keep the vendors from melding into one another.
- If organization is your strong suit, bring a binder with envelopes and file tabs for each kind of vendor (caterer, photographer, florist, etc.). Before you leave a vendor’s booth, file the business cards and brochures. This will save you lots of time later.
- Bring along a Palm or appointment book to record meetings you set up with vendors.
- A lightweight tote will work well to carry all your goodies.
- Come with an open mind. One of the best things about a bridal show is that it gives you an opportunity to see what’s new and exciting, things you may not have thought of or considered.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask lots of questions. That’s why you are at the show. Professionals are happy to share what they know with you. Be gutsy . . . taste the cake and smell the flowers.
- Cut to the chase to save time. Your first question to a vendor should be: Are you available on this date ? If you get a “NO”, move on.
- Collect information from every vendor. Take it home to look over when you have some quiet time. During the course of planning your wedding you may not have thought you wanted certain things, like a harpist or freeze drying your wedding bouquet.
- Bring along color swatches. They may prove helpful in getting suggestions from vendors, such as bakers, florists, and balloonists.
- Bring preprinted self-adhesive address labels if you have them. You will be asked for your name, address, phone number and wedding date countless times before the show is over. This will save you time and it will allow you to sign up for many of the prizes that will be given away.
- If you are out of town, send your mother or a friend to collect information on services you need.
- Bring along bridal show buddies. There’s plenty of territory to cover, between you and your friends, you’ll be able to locate the hottest booths and the best deals.
- Wear comfortable shoes. For the better part of the day you’ll be standing and talking to vendors. The only opportunity to sit down is during the fashion show, and even then, seating is limited.
- The bridal fashion show is often the highlight of a show. Make certain to arrive early enough to get a really good seat. If you have already selected your wedding attire, you may wish to skip the fashion show in order to spend more time with the vendors.
Have a bridal show tip you’d like to share? How has a bridal show helped you plan your wedding? Help out future brides and grooms and offer your advice or tip in a comment to this post.