Sunday, September 11, 2011

Host and Organize a Bridal Rally

If you are a wedding planner, wedding venue, or a wedding vendor and you are looking to drum up some wedding business you might think of hosting and organizing a "bridal rally". A bridal rally is similar to a bridal show or bridal expo but instead of going to a hotel or a bridal venue with a lot of wedding venders the bridal rally is a day you travel to and visit with wedding vendors at their place of business.

The bridal rally starts out with a bunch of engaged couples or engaged brides with their bridesmaids, meeting at a location where the bridal rally ends with a place to park their car for the day and a place to meet afterward which may be a wedding reception location. All couples or bride teams are encouraged to bring their digital cameras to take pictures of wedding venues and having fun with some new found friends that are also getting married. The day starts out fairly early in the morning where you may greeted by some entertainment, maybe a string quartet playing some wedding music.

Usually the host, will hand out a schedule for the day of all the places and approximate times the engaged couples and bride teams are expected to be at each wedding venue or wedding vendor location. After receiving marching orders and some advertising material in a wedding tote all the couples and teams hop on a party bus, trolley bus, party boat, or bus to take the wedding groups on their way. Before getting on the party bus, a limousine company might have on hand some wedding limousines to check out.

After everyone gets on the party bus or whatever vehicle is provided, the bus sets out on a journey to visit a bunch of wedding locations. The goal is to have a day of fun and learning about weddings and meeting wedding vendors, and enjoy some food sampling and drinking beverages along the way. The day will be spent on pit stops to see all sorts of wedding vendors. You may stop and see a bed & breakfast, a fancy hotel that hosts weddings, a wedding church chapel, a fabulous ceremony site, a wedding decorating company, a florist that does weddings, a bridal registry, a beautiful photo shoot spot, a beauty salon geared to weddings, a makeup artist studio, a calligraphy studio, a jeweler, a wedding favors gift shop, a rental store with a wedding tent setup, a bridal salon, a bakery that makes wedding cakes, a travel bureau agent, a chocolate factory, a winery, rehearsal dinner site, and caterer.

At each location the wedding vendor will have about 10 to 15 minutes to talk about their business. In some locations such as the caterer or the rehearsal dinner site, or wedding reception location, the wedding groups may be offered a food tasting with some entrees, hors d'ouevres, and special desserts along with pricing brochures. The wedding couples and bride groups may also get offered a cake tasting when they visit the wedding cake baker. At each location, the guests are given a tour of  the venue or receive a brochure or in some cases be shown a slideshow about the business or decorating possibilities.

As the day proceeds with the bridal rally, joining the wedding couples or bride teams on the party bus are some wedding vendors that are alomg for the ride to help organize the day and spend some time taking  pictures or videos of the couple in the hopes of picking up some wedding business. On the bus, beside the bridal rally host which may be a wedding planner, you also might find wedding photographers, wedding videographers, officiants, or other wedding vendor volunteers offering their help for the day. The wedding vendors that travel on the bus may get a chance to talk about their services somewhere along the trip, maybe at a photo shoot location, or may offer to take an engagement photo of the couple at their studio. Also they may take photos and videos of the day to put on different wedding websites as a promotion.

Also at some point in the day, there may be a man cave promotion part. The party bus or trolley may drop the men off at a man cave which may be a sports bar or rehearsal dinner spot. The party bus continues on with the girly part of the day that's more geared to the ladies for which the guys would be bored at. This might include stopping at locations while the girls go to a bridal salon, a beauty parlor, and stop by a makeup studio. These places, guys would be bored at, at places to learn how to pretty up for the wedding. While the girls are doing the girly things, the guys might attend a beer tasting, be presented with a plate or hors d'oeuvres watch sports on television, learn how to play casino games, or partake in some competitions maybe volleyball, pool or darts.

After the ladies do their thing, the couples come back together (make sure pictures are taken with what is the rule at a bridal rally, when couples come back together they are required to practice kissing). Usually later in the day at bridal rally stops, you stop at places where some things can be picked up for the wedding, so you don't have to cart so much around baggage. Stops later in the day may include wineries, estate mansions, bridal registries, gift shops, calligraphy businesses, rental stores, or a place to order wedding favors. Usually to get a nice full day of pit stop at wedding vendor locations, the day may start at 9:00 a.m. and get back to the wedding reception place at around 7:00 p.m. The day of the week to hold the bridal rally is at your discretion. Saturdays are days when couples tend to be more free, but Saturdays are also the busiest day of the week for weddings and may not be a good for some wedding vendors. Get feedback from wedding vendors to find which day is best for them.

Upon your return when the party bus arrives back at the wedding reception. The wedding couples and the bride groups may be greeted by some more wedding vendors. You might include another food tasting and you might want to allow some additional vendors, let a disc jockey play a sampling of his or her music. The wedding coordinator for the wedding reception business, might give a tour of the premises. She may also show you pictures from other weddings. You might allow various musicians demonstrate their talents playing their instruments, a pianist, a violinist, a harpist, a vocalist, a duet, a brass group, or a video of a music band. You also might include other things you have at weddings, maybe a photo booth, a group that creates ice sculptures, a group that makes candy buffets or a coffee bar, a dance instructor, a scuba instructor, a hot air balloon, a unique business that wedding couples would enjoy.

Also soon after, when all your wedding couples or bride groups arrive at the wedding reception place, you would like to have them go down the list of wedding vendors they saw for the day and provide feedback if they have an interest in any wedding vendors. Next to each vendor put some boxes next to each wedding vendor name and show if their is an interest of being contacted. Show a column for yes, no, and maybe. Make sure the host of the event is at the top. After each couple fills the survey out, you leave the couples and bride groups with some departing gifts, could be a box of chocolates or could be a bottle of bubbly, soap bubbles, bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts or a nice wedding related type of gift. For the vendors that couples are interested in, make sure the vendors are contacted with names, phone numbers, and contact information.

When you set up the bridal rally, if you want to add some extra fun and insure all the wedding groups and bride groups meet with all the wedding vendors. You might think of adding a scavenger hunt. At the beginning of the day when you lay out the scavenger hunt, you may require something from each location. Scavenger hunts can be completed by physically collecting an item from each wedding vendor, answering a question asked about a particular business, having a picture taken at a wedding vendor's location, or having a picture taken of something at the wedding venue, or having a picture taken with other brides at a wedding venue. In order for someone to receive a gift upon departure, they must have completed everything asked in the scavenger hunt.

Now you may ask, how do you set up a bridal rally, it takes a lot of work but if set up well it can be a tremendous reward. The bad news is, it is tough to get started, but the good news, if it's run well it is easy to pick up wedding vendors once they have been through it once. You start out meeting with a bunch of wedding vendors and tell them about plans for the bridal rally and how it will work. The first time just get feedback if they are interested and what time and the day of the week would be best for them. You should target getting a wedding vendor per wedding category, in order to keep your wedding vendors happy, it's better if wedding vendors don't have to compete against each other for the same brides at the rally.

It's better you see for yourself, how well a wedding vendor runs his business, it's better to visit each location and decide if it's a good business for your bridal rally. Once you have identified the businesses to target for the bridal rally, let them know the date of the bridal rally and try to figure out a good time to stop by and see if you can come to an agreement, also talk about what they can offer for the bridal rally, provide a gift, food for taste testing, funds for transportation. You should draw up a contract for the bridal rally so you have down on paper what is agreed to. Just to note, in order to make the routes efficient, you may have to change schedules around, you should plan the bridal rally a couple of months in advance and touch base regularly about the event. Create a webpage to refer to on what the schedule is for the bridal rally and how the bridal rally works.

One suggestion, when you start building your wedding vendors for your bridal rally, is to talk to your wedding transportation company and big wedding venues first. These businesses will determine how you can set up the bridal rally. Can you get a party bus? Will they cover the cost in hopes to get some business? Maybe a major venue will allow wedding couples and bride groups for a specific day and time during the week. If you don't identify a transportation company for the event you may need either a bus or get a bunch of people to car pool.

You also need to concern yourself for the advertising for the bridal rally, how can the event be advertised? Do you do radio commercials, billboards, newspaper ads, register at all the participating wedding vendors, put an ad on a classified location. How you handle the advertising depends on whether you want the event to be big or small, maybe it's just the amount of couples that can fit on the party bus or do you have a big event. Also do you charge a fee or can you get the wedding vendors to cover costs and handouts.

Another thing you might consider using your local Chamber of Commerce for your Bridal Rally. You might tell the Chamber of Commerce all about your plans for the Bridal Rally, they can either give you some good contacts of top notch wedding businesses in your area, they may also help you and even possibly get involved in your bridal rally. They may work out great or they may take over control. Around the country, there are a number of successful events like a Bridal Rally. One successful event which is called a Bridal Crawl has been held in Orlando area the past couple of years, you can find information about it at this website www.thehistorycenter.org/bridalcrawl . Another event is called the wedding road show which is held in Long Beach Island of New Jersey, information can be found at www.visitlbiregion/weddings/ .

These events are set up to first receive a map of participating wedding vendors at one location and a map of where partaking venues are located and which vendors can be found at the venues or in the local area and for what specific time frame. Often a bunch of wedding vendors such as florists, bakers, decorators, officiants, photographers, musicians, etc. will be stationed at various venues. The events start out with paying a fee, say $10 and then a wristband is put on your wrist, and then when you visit a wedding venue, if you are seen with the wristband you are entitled with food and beverages from venue participants and provided coupons and brochures from different wedding vendors.

How you set up a bridal rally is really up to you, a lot depends on your vendors, how close your vendors are in location to one another and to pull it together, how and how much advertising will be needed. Also do you want to take on running the bridal rally yourself or do you pull it together working with the Chamber of Commerce. You might find out when talking with wedding vendors, they are looking to pick up brides just as you do and be happy to get involved in weddings just as you are and are happy to help you out in with your bridal rally. The question, do you continue the tradition of a "Bridal Rally", do you have it once a year or should you have one quarterly.

One last thing to mention, which is different matter, there is a company called "Wedding Selections" that creates post cards of various wedding vendors in a particular city. After creating a packet of post cards for a city in a bridal packet, this company sends out the packets to local brides. The rules are, only one wedding category is allowed per bridal packet, i.e, only one wedding dress business, caterer, reception facility, photographer, etc. is allowed. About three times a year, a packet of about 16 pretty post cards go out to local area brides. For a set fee, the post cards allow wedding vendors to reach area brides before their competition does, enabling them to pick up business. These post cards are sent to brides at about a cost of around $.08 a card. For more information about this business you can visit the www.weddingselections.net website.

So if your business does not have a wedding going every weekend or is looking to pick up area brides, think about creating a fun day for wedding couples or brides and bridesmaids. Network with local wedding vendors and have vendors take pictures and videos to put on yours and vendor websites. Create excitement and put some wedding planning ideas into some bride's heads. Use some charm and add some personality and network and show you know bridal stuff and pick up a number of bridal clients at your bridal rally.

I hope I left you some good ideas, should you decide to run a Bridal Rally, and best wishes for a profitable business.

See you on the other side!


1 comment:

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