1. Dress for the occasion. First off Ladies, I cannot stress enough the need for comfortable footwear! 5 inch heels are just not conducive to what should be a fun and enjoyable day at a bridal show! I saw girls weeble, wobble and almost tumble for two days straight while walking for hours on the unforgiving concrete convention flooring! Flats, boots or sneakers are going to help you get the most out of your bridal show experience! I imagine it would be extremely difficult to have a conversation with what could be the perfect vendor for you, but you can't comprehend anything they are saying because all you are thinking is "I can't feel my toes". If you still feel like you can't part with the pumps, at least throw a pair of cute ballet flats into your bag (you know, just in case). In regards to the rest of your perfectly plotted outfit - keep it simple. Try to avoid the bulky winter coats and sweaters. After about 20 minutes, you will be sweating and your coat will be on your last nerve. I recommend a nice pair of jeans and a light shirt, sweater or jacket to be most comfortable.
2. Part with the entourage. Do you have 8 girls in your Bridal Party? While we at 1 Elegant Event believe it is fantastic that you have such a large support system, we recommend you leave the posse at home. Sticking with Maid of Honor, your Mom or even your fiancée is best! When you have more than a couple of people with you - the experience turns more into a tug of war over what shade of blue you like best, or who is going to sit with whom when the fashion show begins. These show are a great opportunity to see vendors at their best! If you are constantly listening to the opinions of half a dozen people who have tagged along with you, it may be hard to hear your own thoughts or you may not approach that one photographer you think looked great because you didn't want to hurt a friends feelings. So in this case with friends, less is more!
3. Mailing Labels are your new best friend! Before attending any Bridal Show or Expo, take a few minutes to print off mailing labels with your contact information (Name, address, most important a correct EMAIL address, phone number, and wedding date). This will save you much time when filling out entry forms and you won't have to worry about someone not being able to read your handwriting. You wouldn't want to miss out on that free Honeymoon you could have won, just because a vendor couldn't decipher your email address, do you? (Yes, its has happened more than once!)
4. Use your Vendor List to your advantage: Lets say you are in the need of a photographer and cake artist, look up their booth numbers on your map and find out where they are located. Grab a pen and walk around, casually strolling by their booth. As you go through, highlight the vendors that spark your interest with their display, photos, personality, etc. Next, go back and have conversations with those who captured your attention. You should view their work, sample their cakes and ask questions that are important to you. Once you have done this, it will be much easier to make a decision about who you liked best. Their product and personality will be fresh in your mind and as I always say, "Go with your instinct!"
5. Write notes on the back of your favorite vendors business card! After speaking with over 50 wedding vendors at one time how will you ever remember that you loved "that" florist or "they" were your favorite photographer or this person offered you a special price. Write simple but clear notes to yourself on the back of their business card before you throw it in the bag with all the others. Quick, easy and will save you lots of time in the future!
6. Put your money where your mouth is: If someone approaches you inside or outside of a show and wants to have a conversation with you about their delectable cakes, visually stimulation cinematography or awesome photo-booth - first ask what their booth number is. If they did not pay to be at the show, RUN! The Wedding Professionals at these shows work tirelessly to create a welcoming and positive environment for all the potential brides in attendance. Someone who is strolling in to try and attract brides without the footwork is no good to you. It shows they are not willing to invest the time, effort or money to solicit the right way. Think of it like the purse vendors in china-town who lead you into an abandoned building where you have to knock three times on the back door and utter a password to get your hands on a shoddy Louis Vuitton? It's just bad business.
7. Pay Attention to Personality: I've had couples tell me that it was my personality that first attracted them to come up and talk to me. That is such an amazing compliment! I believe in stress free Wedding Planning and I want all my couples to have the time of their lives, so this means so much! By working with a vendor who matches your personality, you are so much more likely to be satisfied with the end result of their work, no matter what aspect of the industry they are in. So taking a little bit of time and watching how certain vendors interact with potential customers will tell you a lot about their true personality.
8. Most Importantly, Have Fun! This is supposed to be the best time of your life! Take a deep breath, smile and enjoy the experience!
BONUS!!! Thank you , since you took the time out to read our very helpful blog, here are 3 more free bonus tips!
*** The Best time to attend a bridal show is when it first opens! The food samples are plentiful and fresh and the vendors have not been worn down from talking all day!
*** The Best time to talk to vendors is the last hour of the bridal show. The crowd is thinner and many are starting to pack up. So if you want, get the return to event stamp or armband take a break and come back! Feel free to interrupt a packing vendor, they would love to spend that time answering your questions!
Blog Written By Cossie Crosswhite,
Owner of 1 Elegant Event, Wedding & Event Planning
and National Event Specialist