In addition to finding creative inspiration from all the great ideas on display, you’ll have the opportunity to meet local wedding professionals in your area face-to-face. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about their experience and what they offer. In essence, attending a wedding show is a great way to accumulate a massive amount of information in a very efficient amount of time.
Yes, they can be overwhelming and confusing; some of the larger wedding expos and bridal shows – such as my local shows The Seattle Wedding Show and The Tacoma Wedding Expo – feature hundreds of wedding professionals exhibiting their products and services! But they can also be an informative and fun way to kick off your journey towards “I do!” So, here’s how to make the most of attending a bridal show:
First and foremost, wear your most comfortable shoes as you’ll spend the majority of the day on your feet. Next check in advance to see if a coat check service will be provided. If not, dress in layers and stick to a light jacket. Otherwise, it’ll be a very long day for anyone carrying both a heavy coat and a bag of literature around!
Create A Wedding Email Account
Provide this email address at the show, and reserve your personal email address for the professionals you actually do hire. Trust me on this; some of my past clients have told me that in addition to being hounded by wedding vendors for days and weeks after the show, they still receive follow-up emails from wedding vendors years later.
Bring A Friend (Or Two!)
Invite your Maid of Honor and/or mother to join you. Not only will it be a blast for all, but it also gives you someone to bounce ideas off of. And when appropriate, they’ll prevent you from making an impulse decision you may later regret.
Also, feel free to invite your fiancé, as well. Someone has to carry that bag of promotional materials around! 😉
Since you will likely reach information overload, “divide and conquer” is a terrible strategy for attending a wedding show. When it comes to making decisions as you plan your wedding, it is best to have all the decision-makers present, listening to the information being presented.
Avoid Bringing Children, If Possible
Children will tire quickly and be extremely bored at a bridal show. And if your child isn’t cooperating, it will be difficult for both you and the wedding professional to focus and stay engaged in conversation. Please consider arranging for a babysitter; you’ll be glad you did and your friendly wedding vendors will be, too.
Do Your Homework Before You Go
Take a look at the wedding show guide provided on the bridal show’s website before you go! Visit each vendor’s website and do some light research. Cross the vendors off on your list that are not of interest to you. Not only will it save you valuable time at the show, but it will allow you to invest more time learning about the vendors you are interested in.
Please, Wear Your Sticker
Nearly all wedding expos will provide you with a “Bride” and “Groom” sticker, or other identifying material, upon arrival. Please wear it as it helps wedding vendors identify who is who in your group, and removes any potential awkwardness.
Arrive Early? Go Left. Arrive Late? Go Right
When most brides-to-be enter the exhibition hall, they always go to the right and sweep back to the left. Science says it is a natural tendency, as most humans are right-handed. So if you arrive earlier in the day, head to the left after entering. You’ll have more time to meet and greet with those wedding professionals before the flow of the room catches up to you.
Know The Basic Details of Your Wedding
In addition to your wedding date, it is helpful to know – or at least have rough ideas of – the size of your wedding party, the number of guests you are anticipating hosting, and the venue you have booked (or at least the geographic location you are considering). Also, if you have them, bring material swatches and ribbons, as they are helpful when speaking with florists, bakers, planners, etc.
Walk Away With Appointments, Not Contracts
Unfortunately, there is a wealth of information to each professional’s service, and unless it is a smaller, more intimate bridal show, there frankly isn’t enough time to have lengthy conversations. Respect the vendor’s time – they need to get their flyers and brochures out to as many brides and grooms as they can! – and set appointments with them.
Ask if the vendor will honor their show special in the days and weeks to come. If they won’t, and seem overly pushy, feel free to politely decline and walk on. Most will happily honor a show special for a duration of time after the show, so there is no need to be in a rush to book your vendors on the spot. Trust me, if the vendor was booked solid, they wouldn’t be at the wedding expo in the first place. Take your time and make educated booking decisions.
Bring A List of Questions To Ask
Don’t rush from vendor to vendor just grabbing business cards and flyers, as you could’ve easily just stayed home and found vendors on Google while watching Netflix or the NFL playoffs. The point of a wedding show is to get a feel for the personality of each professional you speak with, so ask them your hardest-hitting questions. The best of the best are there to help you; they understand you are under no obligation to book or buy.
Do your homework and be prepared! Here is a list of the top 12 questions you should ask at a wedding show.
Don’t Make Hasty Judgements
Take a minute to listen to the offer of each vendor before deciding if their service is of interest to you. If it isn’t, it’s perfectly okay to politely decline with a “No, thank you” and continue on. If unsure, take their literature anyways and hold on to it. You’ll be glad you did down the road should you decide a string quartet, photo booth, or day-of coordinator is for you.
Have Extended Conversations With Vendors During The Fashion Show
When the fashion show begins, most bridal show attendees will head over to watch. This is a great time to circle back to that vendor you really want to learn more about and have a more in-depth conversation.
Prepare yourself for information overload. Bring a pen and quickly jot down notes on the literature you receive from each vendor. Better yet, bring a second pen of a different color and use that for the vendors that really capture your interest. Alternatively, just use your smartphone and take photos, make notes, etc.
Bring Bottled Water and Snacks
Not only is the food at the concession stand expensive, but the lines can get pretty long, too.
Do Enter Giveaways
Yes, nearly all of them are legit, and even if you don’t win, most companies will still offer you an exclusive discount or coupon after the promotion has ended. To avoid writing your contact information over and over again, consider preparing pre-printed labels with your contact information before you come to the wedding show.
Feel Free to Ask About Possible Discounts
Are you in the military? Is your wedding on a weekday? Early morning? Check to see if there are possible discounts for your specific situation. The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.
Talk To Other Brides-To-Be At The Bridal Show
It’s nice to be able to speak to someone that is currently experiencing what you are experiencing. You never know, you just may make a new friend and have another wedding to attend!
Ask Your Hired Professionals Who They Recommend Visiting At The Bridal Show
Is your photographer exhibiting at a booth at the bridal show? If so, stop by and ask for their recommendations of reputable vendors you should visit.
Take A Ton of Photos
Feel free to fill your smartphone with pictures of anything that inspires you! You can even take selfies with the vendors you liked meeting! Nearly all vendors are okay with you taking photos, but do politely ask before you snap!
Make Social Media Connections
If you’re really interested, ask to connect with that wedding pro on Facebook or Instagram while at their booth. It’s a great way to make connections without revealing your personal email or phone number; you can always unfollow them should you choose to go another direction.
Ask Any Question Except For “How Much Do You Charge?”
For wedding professionals, it’s hard to give an exact price without enough information about your specific wedding day and vision. Also, to make a real comparison among vendors, you’ll need way more information from each professional than what a promotional flyer can provide.
Conversely, it is fair to ask for an average range that most couples pay for that particular wedding professional’s services.
For Large Wedding Shows, Go Both Days
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see everything you need to in one day. Especially if the bridal show is crowded and it’s difficult to navigate to every booth. Take your fiancé on Saturday – or whichever day his football team isn’t playing! – and then walk the show again with your mother and bridesmaids on Sunday. This will ensure you covered it all.
It’s highly likely the vendors you’re interested in will also be talking to other brides and grooms with the same wedding date as you. Don’t wait too long after the show to communicate! If a wedding professional has really piqued your interest, ask for their email or phone number and send them a quick message right then and there. Trust me, they’ll make you a priority that evening.
Most importantly of all, have fun!
Enjoy the cake and dessert samples! Hop in all of the photo booths and take silly photos with your bridesmaids! And don’t forget to be yourself and try to make connections with the wedding expo vendors you meet. It’s an opportunity to gain insight into who they are and what they are like to work with.
Originally Published: January 10, 2018
Last Updated: January 12, 2022