This week has been a really busy week for us. Partially because it's summer and we're wedding photographers but mostly because Sunday is the Pink Bride's summer show. We absolutely love Pink Bride but man is it a lot of work to get ready. You would think, and I always do before we start prepping, that once you've done one show it would be easy to setup for another. Nope, apparently not. Even though our booth design doesn't change much it still seems like gathering everything in one place takes forever. Let's don't even talk about what gathering all of those things in one place does to the layout and function of our house. So since I've turned our living room into a Russian nesting doll of living rooms I thought I would give you some tips on how to attend a bridal show and make the most of it.
You've decided that you're going to spend your afternoon going to a bridal show to plan your wedding. Awesome! The first thing you should do is get prepared. Check out the show's website for Facebook page to see what vendors will be at the show. Follow the show on social media to find out about any door prizes, discount programs, or specials that they're offering. Nothing beats free stuff right?
Know what you need
Take a few minutes to think about what vendors you actually want for your wedding and what price range your comfortable with overall. If you know your total wedding budget is ten-thousand and you want to serve a full meal at your reception then you perhaps don't want to spend a whole lot of time talking to the venue that's eight-thousand and doesn't include catering.
Okay let's just be really honest with ourselves here. You can't talk to everyone. Well, I don't know, perhaps you could, but you would be very very tired at the end of the day. Instead of running around like a crazy person all afternoon pick 2 or 3 things you'd like to book and focus on that. Once you've decided on what your focus is then you can make sure to visit all the vendors in those categories and perhaps only stop at other booths if they really call out to you. Aleah and I have had to learn this lesson the hard way. At the beginning/end of the show we'll walk around to chat with vendors too. It helps us establish/build connections which is super important in the wedding industry. The first time we ever did a bridal show though we wanted to talk to everyone. By the end of it I couldn't remember who I'd talked to, what we'd talked about, and had missed some of the most important folks because I simply ran out of time. When I got home that night I had a stack of business cards and no real connections.
Make a Planning Pass
First thing when you get there, we recommend taking a stroll around the floor to get a lay of the land. If you haven't already narrowed your focus do it now. It might even be helpful to jot down a list of the booths you know you want to visit while you're there so you don't miss anyone. If you take a planning pass you're a lot less likely to miss something because you got distracted by something at the end of the row.
The most important thing when choosing your vendors is finding the right fit. Not just with budget and availability but also personality and day of priorities. If you're not feeling a vendor then don't be afraid to be honest and speak up. Compatibility is just as important to vendors as it is to you. You won't hurt our feelings by telling us you're not sure that we're what you're looking for. We might even know someone that would be a great fit for you and can make an introduction. What does bum us out a little though is when a bride tells us how much she loves us and that she wants to go grab her fiancee and just never comes back.
Plan for Follow Up
Unless you want to sign all of your contracts at the show and cut checks that day you're going to have to chat with these vendors again. Save yourself a lot of time and energy and plan for vendors to follow up with you. Have your contact info handy and when you come across a vendor that you really like, instead of taking their info and tossing it into the black hole of a bag the show gave you at the door give them your contact info. That way you don't have to sort through all the paper at the end of the day looking for that one coordinator's card.
I hope these were helpful and I hope we see you Sunday!