Not only do I get to go gown shopping this weekend (!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but I am also going to be attending another bridal show in my area.
Ah, bridal shows. Double-edged sword, these babies are. By and large, I have to say I love them, which is surprising, because I get annoyed really easily and these things are prime grounds for annoyance. However, they are great, one-stop shopping for brides. You can find your photographer, DJ, florist, baker, transportation, and even your venue all in one place, at one time. Uh, hello?! Perfect for the procrastinator or “lazy” bride, or anyone who wants to just GET. IT. DONE. Bridal shows are also great research. Don’t know where to start when it comes to floral or bakery, like me? Hit up a bridal show and see vendors in action. Taste cake, touch and smell flowers, and get a feel for the various vendors. It’s like a Google search, but LIVE. Awesome!
But what’s this double-edged sword, you ask?! Well, bridal shows are chock full of brides. Brides and their mothers, brides and their grooms, brides and their girlfriends. Brides who won’t get out of the way when you want to speak to a vendor, brides who don’t know how to walk down aisles at a normal speed, brides and their entourages who take up too much room around booths. Brides who, whether inadvertent or not, are completely rude, because, as all brides are entitled to feel, it’s all about THEM—even if there are 50 other brides who are planning their special day, too. After a few hours of battling brides, it is easy to get annoyed. Luckily, if you have some good tips and strategies, you can make the most of the bridal show and have a (relatively) painless experience! Here are my best tips for attending a bridal show:
1) Pre-show, set up an email address that you will use JUST for correspondence. If there’s one thing about bridal shows, it’s that you get a TON of email afterwards, and for months on end. If you don’t want to have emails like “5 Top Honeymoon Destinations” or “20% off Invites This Week Only!” coming into your personal inbox on a regular basis, a separate email is a must. As a bonus, you can use it for all wedding related correspondence. Try using email@example.com or something like that.
2) Bring with you a sheet of pre-printed address labels. Another thing about bridal shows is that they get you to sign up for a LOT of stuff—you sign up to receive information, win contests, etc. If you want to save yourself some time and writers’ cramp (not to mention avoid being one of those brides who hogs booth space), bring a sheet of pre-printed address labels that includes all your information, so you don’t have to waste any time writing. Just slap a label on their mailing list or entry form and move on. The labels should include: your name, the groom’s name, your wedding date, your email address, and your home address. Note: if you don’t want vendors calling you, DO NOT PUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER ON THE LABEL. Giving them your phone number means you give them permission to call you. I NEVER put my phone number on the label because I hate sales calls and would much rather deal in email if necessary. Same thing for your address. If you don’t want them to send you information, don’t put your address on the label!
3) Bring an extra tote bag with you. Something small, like a reusable grocery bag, etc. Every show gives you a bridal guide and a bag to carry all the information and swag you get at the booths. Usually, the bags are from a sponsor (like a tux company) and are similar to department store shopping bags (ie made of paper)…these types of bags, when they get heavy, can cause the handles to break or the bottom of the bag to rip. Bringing an extra tote is two-fold. One, it prevents the aforementioned ripping of the bags or handles, and secondly, it allows you to pre-sort the information you receive. A novel concept, I know! Here’s the deal: you carry one bag, your friend/mother/groom carries the other. When you stop by a vendor’s booth and receive some information, you put the information you want to keep/research/book/review later in your bag. Put everything else in the other bag. This way, you have all the information you WANT to look through in your bag, and you can toss the contents of the other bag once you leave the show. “But, Amy!” you say. “Just don’t take the information you don’t want.” I wouldn’t, but trust me—sometimes vendors simply force it on you. Sometimes you take stuff thinking you’ll be interested but really, you’re not. Use the second bag—it totally streamlines the process!
4) Bring your checkbook! Vendors at bridal shows usually offer GREAT discounts for booking with them during the show. You can get some serious awesome steal-of-a-deals on many wedding services. So if you and your fiance know what you’re looking for and know what your budget is, consider booking some of your vendors at a show. Not into impulse booking? Most shows run two days (Saturday and Sunday, for example), so if you go on Saturday, you can always think about it and head back Sunday to book…while still getting that great deal.
5) Have fun. This is the most important tip! Bridal shows can be hectic, overwhelming, and sometimes even a little annoying. But you know what? Above all else, they’re FUN. Where else can you walk around looking at gorgeous photography, smell and touch beautiful flowers, and taste a million different kinds of delicious cakes? A lot of bridal expos have fashion shows, contests, even cooking demonstrations, all designed to celebrate the fact that you’re getting married. So embrace it! You’ll meet great vendors and get a better feel of what’s out there in your area.
What are your best tips for attending bridal shows?