Getting the Most From a Bridal Show - Part 1
by Larry James
Attending bridal shows can be most helpful in planning your wedding. Here are some tips that will help you get the most from your bridal show experience.
Where else but at a bridal show can you preview ceremony and reception locations, peruse photographers' portfolios, see and hear entertainers and see if your personalities click with a minister and their ceremony? Bridal shows can be exciting, festive events and can provide a wealth of terrific ideas about your big day. You will be able to meet and ask questions from many wedding professionals all under one roof. You will want to gather information, compare prices and services, register for prizes, see the latest fashions, get great new ideas and just have fun.
You will most likely benefit the most from visiting a bridal show that is in your city because the vendors you require will be more accessible. Pre-register before the show. When you register before the show, some shows offer a discount toward the purchase of your ticket. It saves you time at check-in, and often a few bucks. Research the show ahead of time to see what vendors will be there. Look specifically for the one's you need. Many vendors offer discounts on their services if you book them at the show. Make a checklist of required services, accessories, and the most important elements needed to complete your wedding plans. Design questions that will streamline your efforts and help speed things along. Decide to concentrate on one vendor (minister/officiant, floral designer, photographer, deejay, etc.) and do your research ahead of time.
At the show, gather info from other vendors too, but spend most of your time talking with the ones whose services you need. If the bridal show has a wedding fashion show, check the times of the shows when you arrive, so you don't miss out. Arrive early. Seating is often first come, first served. Bring a list of questions to ask. Don't just rush by booths that have services you still require. Don't just listen to sales pitches. Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. That's what the vendors are there for. They want to help you and you are under no obligation to buy from them, so find out everything you need to know. If their product or service is one you need and they are busy talking with someone else, stand close and just listen or wait until you can ask any questions you may have.
It may seem a little overwhelming at the show, but most vendors love to spend time with you and answer your questions. They will talk to you about their products and services in as much detail as you want. However, the shows are very hectic and noisy, so if you find a vendor that you like, it's best to set up an appointment and meet with them later. Start a conversation with the people at the booths. Don't be shy. You will know right away if they are someone you would want to work with in planning for your special day. It is very important that you "click" with the vendors you choose.
Bridal shows are big. Some have more than 400 exhibitors. Come early. Don't be in a rush. Plan to spend a minimum of 4 or 5 hours in order to see all the exhibits. Take your time. Make a day of it. Don't hurry! Walk up one aisle on one side and check out the vendors, then walk down the other side of the same aisle to make sure you do not miss anyone. You may miss the very wedding service you were looking for if you try to wander from side-to-side down the same aisle. Visit every booth, or at least check them out, even if the exhibitor offers something you're not interested in right now. You might decide in the future to include their services and you'll have the information readily available.
Keep your eyes open for ideas to incorporate into your own wedding, such as a type of flower arrangements, color combinations (in photographers' sample albums, for example) and favors. Also, try to chat with other brides if you can -- you may meet someone you could develop a support network with for this sometimes-difficult process of wedding planning! A great idea is to bring a camera. Snap a photo of the minister you spoke to, a cake that looked especially delicious or take a picture of an exhibit that you want to remember. Use these photos to jog your memory about something that grabbed your attention.
- Larry James is with Celebrate Intimate Weddings in Scottsdale, AZ, and has been a WedPlan Member since Jul 2005.