Have you heard? “Engagement Season” is upon us. According to _____, roughly 40% of the year’s engagements take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day so it’s no wonder that many of the area’s wedding shows are scheduled for the late winter and early spring months. If attending a bridal show is on your “To do list” to do in the next few moths, we’ve got a few insider tricks to share with you, to help you get the most out of the experience.
Choose your show(s) wisely. If you’re considering the venue hosting the show as your reception site, this is a perfect opportunity to get a “sneak peek” into how the venue works with a large number of guests in attendance. How do people flow from space to space? How are the restrooms maintained? Is the wait staff attentive? What types of food are being offered – and more importantly, is it any good? Take a moment while you’re in the space and close your eyes for just a moment. How does the venue feel to you? Can you imagine yourself dancing the night away, surrounded by your inner circle?
More isn’t always better. The larger “expo hall” style of show has its merits, but you might have a hard time actually connecting with a vendor you’re considering. Smaller shows are usually a better bet for one-on-one conversations, at least to the point of getting a good feel as to whether or not you want to follow up. And even if you’re planning a wedding for 450 of your closest friends, odds are high that you’re not considering the local convention center as your wedding venue.
Again, more isn’t always better. Consider limiting the number of people that come with you to a bridal show. By the time you’ve arrived at the show with your beloved (if he or she is joining you,) your mother (s,) honor attendant, and maybe even a bridesmaid or two, your group may become too unwieldy to easily navigate the aisles of your local show. Consider making this a one-on-one date with your fiancé, mom, or honor attendant and treat yourselves to some well-deserved time to connect.
Consider creating a wedding email address. If you haven’t yet, you will soon be receiving A LOT of emails about your wedding, and once you attend a wedding show, odds are high that your inbox just took on a new life of it’s own. By setting up a new email account for your wedding you’ll be able to quickly sort the incoming messages – and it’s a great way to communicate with
Come prepared. If possible, check out the list of wedding professionals that will be at the show before you arrive; identify any vendors that are your “must see” and prioritize time to visit their booth. Have a sheet of pre-printed labels with you and your fiancé’s names, address, email address, phone number, and the wedding date to make entering all those drawings fast and easy.
Travel Lightly. One of the best things (at least in my opinion) about bridal shows, is the chance to experience things in person. Everything from meeting a wide range of wedding pros to seeing a new tablescape design to tasting cake samples to listening to a DJ or live music – the convenience of a wedding show is in providing all of those experiences in one afternoon. Keep your hands open to enjoy that champagne, accept that cake slice, and pick up a business card (or 4.)
Be Fashionably Late – Except to the Fashion Show. Many of the wedding shows in our area have a line queues up for entry, meaning that the first 45 minutes are so are wall-to-wall people. If you have enough time to see all the wedding professionals without being cut short, consider arriving fashionably late to the overall bridal show for a better experience. On the flip side of that, if the wedding show of your choice includes a fashion show, arrive to the stage area a few minutes early in order to snag a seat. This is typically the only chance for anyone to sit down and relax a bit during a bridal show so the seats will be at a premium. (And this is also a great time to go thru your bag o’ goodies and start identifying which pros you want to follow up with.)
Expand Your Horizons. Lastly, keep in mind that a large number of wedding professionals won’t be at the shows. In fact, of our own preferred partners, only one in ten exhibit in bridal shows. Whether we are a bit more exclusive or maintain a busy travel schedule (or very likely, both!) don’t forget to look for great wedding professionals beyond the showroom floor. Use tools like Wedding Wire’s Couples’ Choice Awards to your advantage, letting them do the heavy lifting for you. The Couples’ Choice Award is presented to the top 5% of wedding professionals in the industry. based solely on real couples’ feedback from their own experiences. We’re fortunate in the Philadelphia area to have one of the highest ranked group of wedding professionals in the country -- and very happy to say that Aribella Events has been a proud Couple’s Choice Award recipient from the very beginning. Check out what our clients and colleagues have to say about us here. (link to love notes page.)
Whether your search for the perfect vendor takes you to a dozen bridal shows or a dozen websites, or all of the above, we wish you happy hunting!