Bridal Shows: Getting the Most from your Bridal Fair or Wedding Expo

To Go or Not To Go

No, I am not talking about the restroom. I am talking about the upcoming bridal fair in your city. 2013 promises to be a great year for bridal shows. Almost every city in the United States will have at least one, if not more, bridal shows during the first three months of 2013. Bridal shows or wedding expos range from large trade shows to small intimate affairs that specialize in the wedding industry. They will, typically, involve a fashion show, highlighting the current fashions in weddings gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses, and groomsmen’s outfits, along with different wedding vendors showing their goods. Many brides wonder if they should attend and, if they do attend, how to make the most of the day. The answer to the first question is yes, yes, and another yes. The answer to the second question is plan, prepare and participate, the three P’s.

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Easy Planning

Bridal shows allow brides to plan a large portion of their weddings in one day. Every service and item needed for a wedding is represented by at least one company at most bridal fairs. Brides have access to booths selling everything from wedding dresses and other formal wear to outdoor restroom facilities. Wedding photographers and videographers provide samples of their work for the bride to view. Disc jockeys and wedding musicians show off their talents, and caterers have plenty of samples to hand out. With multiple choices in one location, the bride is able to determine what she must have and what she can live without.

Save Money

Brides can and will save a lot of money at Bridal shows. Every vendor at a bridal show will have special offers available to brides who attend the shows. Some will require booking at the event, but most will be in the form of coupons or giveaways. Another area that allows for money saving is registering for the door prizes. Brides have walked away from bridal fairs with free wedding dresses, photography packages, entertainment packages or great gift certificates. Also, after the bridal fair is over some vendors will give away their booth decorations and extra food.

Sort out the Good from the Bad

When planning a wedding, brides spend a good portion of their time meeting with different vendors before determining which vendor is right for their wedding. There are many reasons why a bride may choose to not book a certain vendor, such as personality conflicts, pricing or budget, difference in style, and availability issues. These can all be determined easily and quickly during the bridal fair; forestalling a time wasting one-on-one meeting with that particular vendor.

Pronovias NYC - Designer Runway Show 2011

Feel the Love

Bridal shows provide an opportunity for the bride to bond with their mother, bridesmaids, or (if she is a lucky bride) their groom. Many brides will bring a few guests with them to help with all the handouts, registrations and detail organizing. Spending a whole afternoon focused on the upcoming wedding day, gives everyone a chance to have fun, spend some time together, and be productive. A word of caution, though, since bridal fairs are long days in a crowded room, bring only people who can tolerate that type of situation. Bridal shows should be informative, fun and enjoyable.

Now, how does a bride receive the most out of the day? The three P’s – Plan, Prepare, and Participate

Plan, Plan, Plan

In the weeks before the bridal show, check out the vendor lists. If possible, print out the list and highlight the vendors whom you are most interested in. If you have a vendor already chosen, find out if they will be there.  It may be possible to book at the bridal show and receive a “bridal show discount”.

Research the topics that are most interesting to you. Knowing the basics of the weddings services you require can save time and money. With a little upfront research, you can skip the easy questions and move to the ones that are important to your particular event. Also, by knowing your budget before attending the event, you will not fall in love with a vendor that is outside of the budget range. 

Preparation...

Do not attend the bridal fair without being prepared. First, dress for comfort. Bridal fairs are about standing in line and talking to people. Second, bring pencils, pens and paper; you will want to take notes and list some ideas. Third, bring printed address labels with your address, email, and phone number. These are great for filling out the registration cards for giveaways or mailing lists. Fourth, eat a very small lunch, but be prepared for caterers handing out samples.

Another area to be prepared in is your social networks such as facebook, twitter, and pinterest. Many wedding vendors will utilize the social networks to advertise deals or specials, post wedding tips and ideas and to host contests. This is a great way for a bride to save money and get some great ideas in the process. Unfortunately, this does mean a bunch of posts from commercial interests on your personal accounts even after the wedding. To keep this from happening, a number of brides will set up "wedding" accounts on each of these networks. By doing so, brides can follow or like their preferred vendors while planning the wedding and "turn off" those accounts when the wedding is done.

Participation is Required

To receive the most from your bridal show, you must participate in the activities. Speak with vendors and other brides, play the booth games and have fun. Be sure to volunteer when the fashion show emcee needs a victim, uhmm, I mean helper. One forgotten, but great, aspect of going to a bridal fair or wedding expo is comradery, knowing you are in the midst of hundreds of women that are like you but your wedding is yours alone. Enjoy the community around you. Basically have a fun and stress free day.

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