It’s hard to believe it’s mid-January already. I think I’m still recovering from the holidays! But, we are also in the midst of “engagement season” and bridal show season is gearing up! There are many shows happening in both Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio (and beyond), and you may be planning to attend one or several. So before you go, here are 7 essential tips for attending bridal shows.
Tip #1: Print Labels With Your Contact Information
Visit your local office supply store to purchase some address labels that you can print at home (or they can help you at the store). Type in your name, email address, phone number, and wedding date.
Then, take the sheets of labels to the show with you to stick onto the contest entry forms at the vendor booths. Believe me, you will visit tons of booths – especially at the larger shows – and you will quickly tire of writing the same information over and over.
An added tip…
Prior to the show, you may want to create a separate email just for your wedding (if you haven’t already) so that you will only receive wedding related information and emails won’t get lost with all of your other personal and/or work emails in your inbox.
Tip #2: What To Wear & What to Bring
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet the entire time. Sometimes there will be a fashion show and seats may be available, but for the most part you will be walking around visiting all of the vendors, possibly for hours on end. Other things to bring:
- A wagon or tote cart on wheels to carry your coat and purse.
- A tote bag for all of the business cards, post cards, flyers, brochures and goodies you will pick up at the booths (just in case the show doesn’t provide one for you).
- Pen, paper, and post-it notes (more on this under Tip #5).
- A small cooler that you can carry or insulated bag, and quart-sized baggies (also detailed under Tip #5).
- Cash for any food or beverages that are available to purchase.
- Bottled water.
Most importantly, be prepared to walk around with the tote bag, plates of food samples, and a beverage. The less you have to carry in your hands, the better off you will be.
Tip #3: Who To Bring
While it may seem like it would be really fun to bring all of your bridesmaids or wedding party, remember:
- Too many friends/family equals too many people influencing you as you meet with vendors.
- Most booths are only 8×10 or 10×10 – sometimes even smaller – so having a large group with you will make it difficult for everyone to be in the space with you at the same time.
Exceptions to this tip…
- If you have limited time to spend at the show and it’s one of the larger ones, perhaps you can split your group up and visit different vendors – and then meet up afterwards and compare notes.
- Also, having at least 1 or 2 people with you will mean you have someone to help you carry all those things mentioned earlier in Tip #2.
Tip #4: Develop A Plan
Plan ahead to determine which vendors you most want to visit. You may already have some of your vendors booked, so it won’t be necessary to visit those vendors at the show.
Some shows will provide a floor plan that will indicate where each vendor is located, so this will be easy to accomplish.
Exceptions to this tip…
- Even if you haven’t already decided to hire a wedding planner, make an effort to chat with the planners at the show. You may decide later on that you need some help with the planning or, at the very least, you will want to hire someone to setup and coordinate your wedding day so that you and your friends/family don’t have to work on that day when you should be relaxing and having fun!
- Have an open mind. Besides a wedding planner, you may come across other vendors that you just never considered for your wedding day, such as an ice sculptor, a caricaturist, or a violinist. Don’t go into the show thinking those vendors won’t be affordable – talk with them anyway. You may just find that you really want them – or need them – and can find a way to make it work! And they may just be more affordable than you think!
Tip #5: Take Notes & Use Those Post-Its
Remember back in Tip #2, I mentioned pen, paper and Post-It Notes? Well, here’s why you need them –
You may want to take notes about pricing, and which vendors you connected with the most or were the best fit for your wedding.
There will likely be lots of cakes and desserts to sample. Every cake baker at the show will have more than one flavor for you to try. If you sample every cake while you are at the show, believe me, you will forget by the time you get home which ones you liked best, and which bakery they were from.
Here’s your insider tip – place one sample in each quart-size baggie, then write on a Post-It Note the flavor and the bakery’s name, and slip that inside the baggie. Then place the sample in your cooler to take home and try later.
And … if your fiancé isn’t with you at the show, think of what fun it will be for the two of you to sample all that deliciousness together!
Tip #6: Take Your Time Making Decisions
Some vendors will try to get you scheduled for a consultation or even sign a contract (or make a deposit) on the spot. Let’s face it, you will probably only have a few minutes to talk with them.
Is that really enough time for you to make a decision about the most important day of your life? Talk honestly with each vendor that you visit about your level of interest in their services, participate in their contest if they have one, and gather their information.
After the show, visit their website, check out their Google reviews, and follow their Facebook business page. This will help you to get to know them better to determine if they are a good fit for you.
Some added tips…
- Remember, when you are selecting vendors for your wedding, you are basically interviewing them but they are also “interviewing” you. Personally, I believe my potential clients and I need to like each other and I certainly need to understand your vision in order for us to work well together. It is your wedding that we will be creating together – so if our personalities clash or I just don’t “get” the ideas you have for your day – then we just won’t be a good fit.
- Remember that pen that we talked about that you should take with you to the show? Here’s another reason to have it – if you find a vendor (or several) that you just feel may be “the one,” then take a moment to put a star on their business card or flyer. Then, when you are home and are sorting through the tons of materials you can easily set all the starred information into one pile as your “A” list.
Tip #7: Check Your Email Inbox and Spam Folder
Don’t forget – after the show, you are also going to get flooded with emails from all of those vendors who asked for your contact information. And guess what, most shows provide a full list to every vendor of attendees (and those who registered but may not have attended) so you may even get emails from someone you never visited.
BUT …. If it was a vendor that you had interest in, be sure to check your email inbox and your spam folder starting as early as the same day – yes, I said the same day! Some vendors will send out that follow-up to you right away, while others may wait a week, two weeks, or even longer.
Remember to Have Fun!
Most of all, just have fun and remember, this is an opportunity for you to meet vendors within a short amount of time. You can weed out the ones that you don’t need or didn’t “click” with, and then you can narrow down the field to the ones you want to schedule a consultation with. This will make life so much easier for you as you continue on your wedding planning journey.
After the Show
And, now that the show is over and your dining room table is covered in materials from all of those vendors, you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed. One great way to alleviate that feeling is to contact me to help you weed through all of the details so that you can enjoy the experience and have a fun and stress-free wedding day.
How Can I Help You?
I will be at the Prime Time Party Rental Open House on Saturday, March 9, so be sure to stop by my booth so we can chat and get you entered into a contest for a personalized prize!
As always, my commitment to each and every couple is to help you plan your wedding ….
With Tender Loving Care,
Upcoming Bridal Shows
Hilton Garden Inn-Beavercreek
Saturday, January 26, 2019
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Prime Time Party Rental-Dayton
Saturday, March 9, 2019
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
The Event Connections-Dayton
Sunday, January 27, 2019
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sunday, April 7, 2019
12:00 noon – 4:00 pm