This is a long post, but it is JAM-PACKED with info. If you plan on attending a wedding show, you NEED to read this.
Fun Fact: I have a background in working with wedding trade shows.
Therefore, I know a thing or two about how they work for both you and the vendors you’re meeting.
Wedding shows can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect or how to approach them. I don’t want that for you. I want you to confidently attend a wedding show all while having fun and checking off to-do’s on your planning list.
So, without further ado, here are some tips that I highly recommend following and answers to questions that I get asked frequently.
TIP #1: CREATE A WEDDING EMAIL
Seems simple, right? Well, you won’t believe how many people use their school, work or personal email when registering for tickets. DON’T DO THIS.
I literally cannot stress this enough. If you haven’t already, stop reading this blog and go create your wedding email. I’m serious. Do. It. Create your wedding email with gmail by clicking here.
Creating a wedding only email will allow you to keep all wedding communication in one place.
Here’s another thing, when you register to attend a wedding show, you are giving permission for the show to share your email with the vendors participating. Now, of course, you do have the option to opt out of receiving email communication, but if you opt out you may miss out on additional special rates offered from the event. So if you want to create two wedding emails, do that. One email for wedding shows you attend and one email for actual wedding vendors you book or inquire for more information.
The best part about having a wedding email is when your wedding is over, you don’t have to check it anymore. No more wedding related emails that you have to delete from your personal email inbox.
TIP #2: COME PREPARED TO BOOK WEDDING VENDORS
You are going to meet some of the most incredible, most talented wedding professionals in your area when you attend a wedding show. You best believe that you’re not the only one eyeing that most perfect wedding venue for June 6th or that photographer you just HAVE to have for your October 10th wedding. (Ahem, October 10th is the most popular wedding date for next year.)
If you’re falling in love with a wedding pro at the show, you must know 10 other people are as well so you’ll want to act fast and BOOK THEM at the show. PLUS, when you book at the show you usually get an incentive for doing so. For example, you will never get LOWER booking rates for Sailboat Weddings than you do at a wedding show that I’m apart of. But, that low booking rate is only for engaged couples who book me AT THE SHOW.
This isn’t a sales plug, it’s just literally explaining that attending a show doesn’t have to be just fun and inspiration. It can allow you to actually save money while booking vendors that you LOVE.
And, if you’re like me, when I was engaged and attended a show I didn’t realize that most vendors are prepared to accept cards on the spot so you don’t have to worry about bringing your checkbook or a wad of cash. Just shop and book as you normally would when hiring your wedding dream team.
TIP #3: VISIT THE WEDDING PRO YOU’RE INTERESTED IN BOOKING AT THE END OF THE SHOW
Okay, so I tell you to book a wedding vendor at the show, but now I’m telling you to WAIT until the end of the show.
Are you thinking, What the heck, Kaitie? I thought you said there are TEN other couples out there who want to book MY photographer.
Well, yes, there are. And if you know without a doubt that you want THAT photographer, book them right then and there. BUT if you are that couple that would like to chew things over a bit before they sign a contract, walk around the show floor and come back at the end of the event to book them.
P.S. It’s okay to ask if someone else has already inquired about your wedding date. This will allow you to know if you do have some breathing room to mull things over.
And, here’s why I suggest waiting until the end of the show… A wedding show is like putting on an actual wedding. It takes just as much (if not more) time for the vendors present to set-up their equipment and displays as it does to set-up for an actual wedding. By the end of the day, WE WEDDING PROS ARE TIRED. Most of us will have been there since 7am and some of us have 2-day setups meaning we’ve spent our whole weekend dedicated to you. (And, we love it!)
So, by the end of the event, if you want to see how a wedding pro really acts on a long wedding day, visit them at the end of the show. If they are still just as personable and on their a-game as when they were when you first spoke with them, BOOK THEM.
As a wedding planner, having a team of professionals I can work with is one thing. But having a team of grateful, diligent and hard-working professionals who are still on their a-game when the days are long are the absolute best.
TIP #4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO SKIP THE FASHION SHOW
If you want more one-on-one time to speak with a vendor, skip the fashion show. Most attendees will be watching so it’ll give you time to actually have a longer conversation with some wedding professionals.
Plus, fashion shows are usually at the end of the event. Wink, wink.
TIP #5: DON’T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY
We wedding professionals are there to book. We want to walk away with money in our pockets. But, most importantly, we want you to feel comfortable with your investment.
I understand that I’m not the wedding planner for everyone. Guess what? That’s a-okay. If you aren’t feeling a vendor, don’t let them string you into booking them. Walk away. You don’t have to feel bad for saying NO THANK YOU or this really just isn’t in my budget.
TIP #5 and 1/2: DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO ANOTHER ROUTE
This is tip five and a half because I’m piggy backing on Tip 5, but it’s too important not to bold it.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, TRUST YOUR GUT. You’ll know once you start talking to someone if they aren’t the wedding pro for you.
EVEN IF YOU HAD YOUR HEART SET on a said photographer, venue, planner, caterer, florist, DJ, etc…. If you start talking with them and you’re like this isn’t going to be a good fit, WALK AWAY and GO ANOTHER ROUTE.
The beautiful thing about a wedding show is there usually is more than one wedding pro for each category which allows you to “SHOP” your options. Take advantage of this rare and unique opportunity and SHOP.
1. Why will the wedding professional I book not suggest additional vendors to me?
So here’s the thing, we wedding pros have to PAY to be apart of the wedding show. We are investing in our business and when we sign the contract to be present at the show, we also state that we will not advertise any other businesses that are not represented at the event. It isn’t fair to those who’ve paid to further their business through this marketing route.
So, for example, if your photographer does have videographers he/she recommends, they can’t tell you them at the show. Now, if the videographer they like working with is at the show, then YES, they can tell you to go check them out.
Fun fact: If I have a floral arrangement in my booth, I can’t give credit to the florist who made it unless they are AT THE SHOW. You may be thinking, That’s not fair. Guess what? Yes, it’s completely fair. Again, the vendors present invested in being present at the show. By not name-dropping other vendors at the show, we as wedding professionals are supporting and encouraging those around us.
2. Why am I receiving SO many emails after the show?
Check out Tip #1. This is why you need to create a wedding email. Vendors will remind you of their show specials and may follow-up with you by email.
3. Some of the emails, texts or phone calls I receive seem strange. Are they legit?
If you get something that seems like it’s too good to be true, contact the show producer and ask if it’s a legitimate offer. Shoot, send me an email or call me if you don’t want to contact the show directly. The show producer, however, is always happy to clarify on an email. And, if an email does end up being spam, THEY WANT TO KNOW. This way, as the show producer, they can handle it before an email gets opened by all the other attendees.
And, just so you know, show producers do their absolute best to vet every single vendor that inquires about being a participant in the show. If someone passes the vetting process, but ends up being a shady business, the show producer WANTS TO KNOW YOUR FEEDBACK AND EXPERIENCE WITH SAID VENDORS.
Being in the world of wedding trade shows, I promise you that we have had to nicely express concerns with vendors that couples have addressed to us. Sometimes vendors didn’t know what they were doing came across the way couples were taking in the information. Some, however, did. AND, if they didn’t follow the rules or change their actions they were kindly asked to not return to the event.
Long story short, show producers really do encourage you to reach out when something seems fishy so they can eliminate questionable vendors and track down every concern.
4. Is the show still beneficial even if I have most of my wedding planned?
YES. It’s a fun day spent with your best girlfriends or future spouse and you may notice something that you want to book that you hadn’t thought about. Plus, you may find some hidden inspiration in displays that are setup.
Plus, you’re only a bride-to-be or groom-to-be for a short season of life, might as well get the full luxury treatment and experience!
5. What should I wear to the show?
Most shows are held at convention centers which means concrete floors, so make sure to wear comfy shoes. As far as attire, you’ll see people in jeans and a t-shirt, Sunday best, or even matching with their wedding party. It’s really up to you what you wear. As long as you wear clothes, you’re good. 🙂
6. How can I increase my chances to be selected for games that the show hosts for giveaways?
To piggy-back a bit on Question 5… While you can wear whatever you want, if you wear matching t-shirts you’re instantly increasing your chances of being noticed among the crowd.
Also, I cannot express the power of a bubbly personality! When the emcee of the event is selecting couples, they are looking for a couple that will also entertain the audience. So don’t be afraid to give a shout or a “pick-me” hand wave to show that you’re personable and not afraid to be goofy in front of large audience.
7. How long should I expect to be at the event?
How much wedding planning do you have completed? If you plan on talking and really taking the time to chat with each professional, expect to be there for the full time of the event. Otherwise, two hours is what I would say the average is for a wedding show.
8. Do I have to stay until the end of the event to be eligible for giveaways?
Most shows do require you to be present at the end of the event to accept any giveaways. However, most shows also allow reentry. So if you know what time the giveaway will be announced, you can leave and come back.
And, trust me, people do leave the event and never come back and miss out on hearing their name called for the big giveaways. You don’t want to know that your name was called and you weren’t there to redeem you winnings.
NOTE: For those attending the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Bridal Show, they do giveaways throughout the day. They’ll call your name a couple of times and text you informing you won because it is difficult to hear sometimes. As far as The Ultimate Giveaway, you must be present and must hear your name called the first time. This happens at the end of the event so you will be able to hear your name called if you’re on the show floor still chatting with vendors.
9. Will there be refreshments?
YES! Again, most shows are held at convention centers so usually the convention will provide easy snack and lunch options. Most shows even have a bar so if you’re 21+ you can “shop the floor” with drink in your hand.
NOTE: Sometimes the bars require you pay by cash so do keep that in mind.
10. Who should attend the event with me?
You, your fiance, your wedding party, your mom, your grandma, etc. Anyone who you want to share the experience with, let them attend with you.
Now, with that being said, if you are going to truly treat this wedding show as a time to find your wedding dream team, make sure you limit the opinions. You may know that just you and your fiance need this time to hire and research the vendors you want. Or, maybe your fiance is okay with you calling the shots on vendors so just you, your mom and maid-of-honor attend.
You know you and your family dynamics so you know who the best people to bring along with you better than I could ever answer.
But, yes, grooms do attend. 🙂 Some shows even have Man Caves set up with video games or TVs playing The Sports Network.
NOTE: If you have already hired a wedding planner, consider asking them to join you, especially if they have been hired to assist you in planning your wedding from start to finish. I would recommend paying for their entry if they say yes.
11. How does parking work?
This is going to depend on where the show you’re attending is being hosted. Sometimes you have free parking and sometimes you may have to pay for parking (especially if it’s being held in a downtown area where parking garages are). You can usually find parking info for the event on the actual wedding show event page. However, if you can’t seem to locate the info, just contact the producer of the event. I promise they don’t mind answering your questions.
NOTE: I actually didn’t know this, but Amanda Copely with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Bridal Show, mentioned some bars/restaurants and hotels around downtown for the Little Rock show will offer valet parking and/or golf cart rides to the event. Talk about that special treatment!
12. Do I really need to bring labels with my information on them so I don’t have to fill out a million giveaway forms?
So it used to be that vendors in the show would offer drawings, meaning you had to fill out the same info at every single booth. That’s where this whole come prepared with labels so you don’t have to write your info down over and over came into play. I can tell you, it is no longer necessary!
Here’s my take on this, vendors still do drawings in their booth. BUT don’t enter a drawing just to try and win. If you wouldn’t book a certain vendor without a discount, don’t think you’ll book them with said drawing discount. 🙂
But, you do you, and enter as many of the drawings as you wish. I don’t think labels are necessary though. Most shows now even have electronic scanning systems that are used instead.
13. I still have questions for you! What do I do?
Just email, call or text me. I’d love to answer all your questions. Again, a wedding show is supposed to be fun, not overwhelming. So if you’re feeling like that, take a deep breath, pick up the phone and call me. I’m happy to help.
My phone number is (501) 920-7627 and my email is Hello@SailboatWeddings.com.
Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this blog, you deserve a big high-five and congratulations! You are now better prepared to have a fun and productive wedding show experience.
And, if you attend the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Bridal Show on January 12th, I would love for you to stop by my booth and say, “Hello!”