What Is a Bridal Show?
It's once again engagement season which also means it's bridal show season. If you've ever attended a bridal show you know they can be chaotic. There are multiple vendors from each sector and there are brides and their friends running all over the place. Some shows even have multiple rooms with vendors in them. If you haven't done your homework you may not know which way to go! So...check out these tips: Before the show
1. Make a list of what services you are looking for. Do you have a photographer yet? If not, put that on the list. If you don't have flowers yet then put that on the list also.
2. Print out labels with your name, phone #, email address, and wedding date. (If you have room add your address also.) Many of the booths have drawings for prizes. They have forms to fill out to register for the drawing. By printing out labels you can just stick that to the vendor's form and then get to the important stuff...checking out the vendor's products and/or services.
3. Check out the wedding shows website to see what vendors will be there. If you need a photographer then check out all the photographers that will be there. If you need a cake...do the same.
4. Decide what you're looking for in the vendors you still need. For example, for a DJ do you want one that plays games with the guests to get them involved, or one that plays songs to keep the dance floor packed? Do you want a photographer that provides you with albums, or do you just want a full resolution disk of your photos to do what you want with? Make a list of what you are looking for and questions you want to ask them.
5. Once you see what vendors will be there in the categories you need then check out their websites. By doing this you can get a preview of their work and get an idea if it's a vendor you'd like to work with. Add the vendors you're interested in to your list of services needed.
At the show
1. Bring with you the list of services needed and vendors you're interested in as well as your labels. Also bring a notepad and pen or tablet to take notes.
2. Bring a camera (or your phone) to take pictures of any ideas you want to incorporate into your wedding.
3. Bring your checkbook. Many vendors offer specials if you book while at the show. However, don't book a vendor just because of a show special. If you have any doubts about them...wait until you get to have a one on one meeting with them to book.
4. Bring your mom or a friend whose opinion you trust. Better yet, bring your wedding planner! Plus, as a bonus, they can help you carry things!
5. Register when you get to the show and be sure to grab the map or program they provide so you can locate the vendors you're interested in.
6. Many people attending bridal shows head straight for the cake vendors because they are giving out free cake. I know it's tempting to do this...but if you already have a cake vendor booked...don't get caught up in the long lines just for a free piece of cake! If you do need a cake vendor then definitely check them out, but keep them for the end of the show as that's when the lines will be the shortest.
7. Take notes! You will probably meet with multiple vendors offering the same services so be sure to take notes so you remember who you like and why. And be sure to ask the questions you listed before the show.
After the show
1. Pull out the brochures and/or business cards from the vendors you liked.
2. Call or email those vendors to set up consultations so you can see more of their work and so you can get to know them to make sure your personalities "click"! (Better yet schedule appointments with them while you're at the show. Just be sure to put it in your calender.)
I hope these tips help you. If you want to avoid all the stress and hassle of a show the best tip is to hire a wedding planner! It's our job to match you up with the perfect vendors that also fit in your budget, saving you the time of meeting with multiple vendors that don't fit your qualifications. (Sorry, had to add that since I've been told my numerous clients that I have saved their sanity!)
Now go find some bridal shows and have fun! Here is a list of some shows in the Central PA and Philadelphia areas to get you started:
1/10 - Wedding Wonderland in York
1/10 - Bliss Philly Bridal Expo
1/10 - Lovesick Wedding Expo in Philly
1/17 - Together Forever in Gettysburg
1/17 - Fun 101.3 Wedding Show in Lancaster
1/24 - Great Bridal Expo in Philadelphia
1/24 - Weddings in Style in Harrisburg
2/21 - Best Wedding Showcase York
2/28 - Your Wedding Experience by David Tutera in Philadelphia
2/28 - AACA in Hershey