Bridal shows are basically trade expos for brides (and grooms!), held at country clubs, hotel ballrooms and convention centers. Navigating a show can be an intimidating. But if you do your homework, set up a game plan and heed a little advice, you’ll find it a source of inspiration, a wealth of ideas and a wonderful opportunity to meet your potential wedding partners face-to-face.
Mission possible: Develop a strategy to meet with vendors based on where you are on the wedding planning timeline. For example, if you just became engaged over the Christmas/New Year holidays, you are probably on the hunt for a reception site. By homing in on where you are in the planning process, you can make your time count at the show.
Do your homework: Check out the show’s website beforehand. It will give you a schedule of events, a list of participants and the chance to register and purchase tickets in advance. Some shows offer special savings when you register online, along with a chance to win some nice prizes.
Don’t forget your labels: There are a lot of opportunities to win some great wedding swag at bridal shows. You’ll find yourself saving a lot of time if you take address labels. In addition to your contact information, be sure to include your wedding date.
Do you really need that entourage: It’s fun to get together with your girlfriends, but remember, you are on a mission. Too much input can get you off track. Take your fiance, mom, and/or maid of honor. If you split up to cover more ground (or if you get separated), have a designated location and time to meet. Bridal shows are often crowded events, so leave the kids at home.
Put on your uniform: It may be Winter, but with the crowded aisles, the temperature is going to rise and personal space is at a premium. Ditch the coat if possible. Wear comfortable shoes – typically the larger shows are held in venues with concrete floors. Consolidate your possessions and take the smallest handbag you can and make sure your phone is fully charged so you can take photos. Don’t go hungry! Yes, you’ll get to sample lots of cakes and catering goodies, but these foods are typically high in sugar, fat and carbs – a recipe for a blood sugar crash. Combine that with the crowd, and you might turn into a Bridezilla.
Separate the wheat from the chaff: You will collect a lot of promotional material at a bridal show. When you get home, you’ll dump everything onto the kitchen table and think, “Now who was that great photographer? Which stuff is his?” Sure, you can enter that photographer’s contact info into your phone, but if you want to save time here’s an “old school” idea: Put those “A list” vendors’ business cards into a designated envelope in your handbag, separating them from the rest of the info you collect.
Take time for inspiration: Yes, you are on a mission. But make sure you leave time after you’ve hit the highlights to absorb the great ideas you’ll see – enjoy a fashion show, eat some cake, smell some flowers, take in a workshop and check out the trends. You just might find an idea or two to incorporate into your special day that you hadn’t thought about previously.
To keep up with the bridal show scene, check out our website’s Calendar of Events. And while you’re at the show, be sure to stop by our booth and pick up your copy of Brides & Weddings. See you at the show!