Wedding and bridal shows can be overwhelming, to say the least! With multiple vendors displaying themselves for YOU, it’s hard to be the center of attention. Here are 10 tips to help make life easier while you’re looking for your wedding vendor dream team:
- Create a separate wedding email address before you go
Before you even leave your house, take the time to create a separate wedding email address. Vendors will be asking for your information so they can contact you after the show. Having a separate email address to funnel all of the new contacts into will be a helpful way to stay organized and on top of your wedding planning game. When my husband and I were engaged, we promised each other that we would only wedding-plan when it was fun. As soon as it got overwhelming, we paused and reminded ourselves why we wanted to get married in the first place. Having a separate email address will ensure that you can wedding-plan on your time, and not on everybody else’s.
- Don’t go at it alone
Invite your mom, mother-in-law, maid of honor, sister, BFF, any friend who is free! Brining a team along will help you keep your eye on the prize, while still enjoying your Saturday. Friends make things fun, and they will often ask insightful questions that you may have forgotten after meeting your fifth caterer… Wedding shows are also a great way to include your family in the wedding planning process without feeling like they are taking over. Discussing which vendors/booths you liked vs didn’t like is a helpful way to narrow down and share your style and preferences.
- Wear comfortable shoes
As a vendor, I like to dress up for wedding shows to show that I am a reliable and professional person. However, as the bride/groom, you will be walking and/or standing for the entire time you’re at the show. Vendors obviously know you are not going to wear what you’re wearing on a Saturday to YOUR wedding, and that fact gives you permission to wear whatever you please! Dress up, dress down, it’s up to you, but the day is always more bearable if your feet don’t hurt.
- Arrive early
Wedding shows are one of the few times you do not want to be “fashionably late.” Why not, you ask? Because everybody else will be! There is a guaranteed surge of people a couple of hours into any show. If you want the chance to talk to vendors one-on-one or try a free sample without throwing elbows, then you need to arrive right when the doors open and the show begins. Plus, everyone is usually in a better mood, and you’re more likely to be remembered when you’re one of the first interactions of the day.
- Start at the back
If you do happen to hit a sea of people, try relocating to a different area. Often times, everyone attending a wedding show begins at the front and winds their way through the chain of vendors to the back. BUT! If you walk quickly past the front and begin at the end, those vendors may be completely free. At the last show I was at, a handful of brides reversed the order and they shared that it made all the difference in personalized interactions, avoiding crowds, and receiving quality time at each booth. Learn from them, and try starting at the back.
- Enter ALL the free raffles
One of the main reasons to attend a wedding show, other than to find your wedding vendor dream team, is to receive free things! Just for attending, you may receive free bags, swag, food, and deals on wedding packages. I like to give away a free personalized engagement session at each show and often find myself actually giving away 2 or 3 of them because I want to try new shooting locations and find that recipients of free sessions are often up for anything. If you’re afraid of all of the junk mail you may receive after handing out your information, remember Step 1. Your separate email address combined with the power to unsubscribe in the future should make you ready to enter for all the free things! Someone has to win, and it might as well be you.
- Know what you’re looking for
I often ask couples what they’re looking for in a wedding photographer. Sometimes I receive thoughtful answers, but most of the time I get blank stares or shoulder shrugs. Most wedding shows feature the vendors on their websites before the show. Take the time to see if anyone pops out to you. This will also help you know that you like sepia-toned photos more than bright and airy–and that’s ok! If you know what you’re looking for before attending the show, you can stop wasting time with vendors who don’t fit your style or trip your trigger.
- Set the goal to make follow up appointments with vendors you really like
Speaking of tripping your trigger, some vendors at the show will be pushy! Vendors are attending this show to get leads, after all. Remember to hold your ground! If you really like a vendor but are feeling pressured to sign a contract, ask if you can make a follow appointment with them instead. Time at the show is best used for short and meaningful interactions, while talking about packages, contracts and signing the dotted line can wait until you’ve thought it through and done your research. To be honest, this is one of the hardest parts of wedding shows for me as a vendor. I make a point not to pressure couples because I would rather a couple be excited to book me. I hate the feeling of being pressured to do anything, and will never let a couple sign a contract with me during a show. Follow up coffee/wine dates to talk things through are always my goal.
- Don’t be afraid to be blunt
Have you heard the Disney quote “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” from Bambi? Well, that life moto doesn’t apply here. Vendors will be sharing their information with you, and they may not stop talking until you ask them to. It’s ok to share that your wedding vision doesn’t match their style. Let them down easy, but the vendor will thank you for not wasting their time. However, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, definitely hear the vendor out. They may be just what you need.
- Have fun!
We’re ending on the most important one–HAVE FUN!! Remember that weddings are a celebration of love! Talking about prices, contracts, and an overwhelming number of options can often take the fun out of wedding planning. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, lean on your friends and head to the nearest free food sample you can find. Enjoy!
And that’s a wrap! Will you be attending a future wedding show in Northern Colorado? I’d love to hear from you!