(9 Months to 24 Months Before the Wedding)
Bridal shows and expos are a great way to shop and browse for wedding professionals and wedding ideas at one location. Bridal shows and expos are a gathering of local and national vendors showcasing their services face to face. Many of these shows often feature a wedding dress fashion show showing off the latest trends in fashion and offer fashions and ideas for the bridal party as well.
All sorts of wedding vendors are in attendance, booths showcase all sorts of wedding professionals, resort hotel wedding coordinators showcase their ceremony site and all the services that go along with their wedding package, wedding reception facilities show what their venues look like all decorated. You have caterers, florists, decorators, photographers, videographers, limousine companies, photobooth companies, calligraphers, travel agents, bakers, cake decorators, wedding planners, and the list goes on and on.
Many of these shows will feature caterers and serve hors d'oeuvres and many will provide food and cake samplings. You will see videos and slide shows of all sorts of wedding vendor's services. You may get entertained from wedding musicians or hear music samplings of wedding disc jockeys. You have all these wedding vendors available to talk to and ask questions of as they are hoping to pick up business from you.
You will find local bridal shows and expos being held in many different locations. You may see these shows in malls, upscale hotels and resorts, convention centers, town squares, wedding facilities, and bridal boutiques. You can expect to see anywhere from 10 to 100 wedding vendors all competing for your business. Although a few of them are free, often there are nominal charges to gain entrance, many charge $5.00, $6.50, $7.50, $10.00 and occasionally some shows fees charge $17.50 to $25.00.
If possible, find out what vendors will be participating in the show before you attend. Know who will be in attendance, and by having a layout of the show itself, you can seek out the wedding vendors you really want to talk to and avoid the ones that aren't important. If the fashion show is part of a big event, claim seats for you and your companions an hour before, so you get a good vantage view of the event!
Wear comfortable shoes and don't carry too much with you into the show, you tend to collect a lot of material and you don't want to cart around your coat or a heavy pocketbook. Bring along your mother, your sister, your bridesmaid, your best friend, or even your fiance, you all will have a good time. (Tell your fiance he can win free stuff and have free cake). You may need somebody along with you to carry some of the brochures and freebies you receive.
At these shows you may and may not get some food, depends if there are caterers. Other than appetizers and cake samples most bridal shoes won't provide food or drinks to purchase, you may consider bringing along a bottle of water or some type of beverage. Be mindful of who you bring along, if you bring along too many, you might find some of your companions will wander off and you find yourself hunting them down instead of collecting information.
A good idea is for you to bring along peeling address labels, create labels using your computer showing your name, address, phone number, email address, and wedding date. It's also a good idea to open up an email account to provide to wedding vendors and this way once you have booked all your vendors, you can cancel your email account to keep from getting continuous advertisements. You don't want to get barraged with continuous email on your regular email. You may consider getting a P.O. Box account in addition, to handle receiving wedding brochures and mailings and cancel the P.O. Box when you no longer want the mailings.
Bring the following items to the bridal shows and expos: pen, notebook, appointment book, checkbook, credit card, a plastic baggy to keep business cards or for small advertisement freebies and bring a large tote bag to carry all the material you receive. Some events may offer you plastic advertisement tote bags.
Many vendors offer special pricing if you book with them but require you to make for a large deposit with them only good for the day of the show. Often this is a sales gimmick, they want to lock you in and minimize a chance for you to book with another vendor. You really want to check 3 or 4 vendors out before making a decision. Most vendors won't have a problem working with you. You should push to meet with multiple vendors but try to meet with them in a short time frame. Come back to the vendor if you are still interested and ask if the discount from the show still stands. If the vendor is too insistent in booking a deal right then and there, it may be a sign that this vendor is overbearing and may be difficult to work with.
You really want to target a full wedding vendor interview and get all your questions answered and feel comfortable working with all your wedding vendors. You want to be sure you are getting the best service possible and are not coerced on booking a disk jockey that takes hour breaks or find you are responsible for picking up and transporting and assembling a multi-tiered wedding cake.
Often you find great vendors from bridal shows and expos and these shows offer you and your dear friends a fun day. They add to the excitement and enjoyment of planning for your wedding. So, that's the story of attending bridal shows and expos. See you on the other side.
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