How to shop a bridal show
Bridal shows are probably the best tools you can use as a busy bride to plan your wedding. These shows are exciting, festive and full of great ideas. You get to talk directly with the professionals, see samples of their work and get an idea of what costs are involved.
Bridal shows can also be crowded, overwhelming and confusing. However, if you put a little time into planning ahead, you will get more out of and even enjoy your bridal show experience.
First set your priorities. Make a list of the products and services you need the most. Then, decide what your budget will allow for each of the products and services. You will be prepared, when you get to the show, to first visit those service providers who have what you need the most, and to give them an idea of what you are able to spend.
Also, prioritize based on how far out you need to order products or book services. The better facilities in town are booked for the following May-September. Gowns take six to nine months to come in after you order, then you have alteration time to factor in after that. Keep this in mind as you plan your strategy for visiting the booths.
Some wedding professionals can only do one or two weddings a day and will, therefore, be booked more quickly. Photographers, DJs, videographers, consultants and some florists are some examples. If you need any of these services, plan to make visiting them a priority as well.
Plan to bring major decision makers with you so they can see first hand what and who is available. The more decisions you can make at the show, the more items you can check off your planning list. If you are the major decision maker, bring someone you trust, for a different perspective. Plus, you need someone to help you carry the magazines, brochures and other goodies the exhibitors have for you.
Prepare to bring some important items with you. You may want to book appointments, so bring your datebook. You may even want to book services with some of the professionals, so bring your checkbook (or credit card). Swatches of material and ribbon in the colors of your wedding are helpful when speaking with florists, bakers, balloonists, gown shops and other professionals.
Most exhibitors (as well as the show producer) have drawings to enter, so bring labels or a stamp with your name, address, phone number, email and wedding date printed on them. This will save you time and prevent writer’s cramp.
The more time you plan to spend at the show, the more you can accomplish. Most shows last six hours, including fashion shows. One show in town – Bridal Expo at Sunrise Mall - lasts the entire weekend. Wear comfortable shoes – you will get your exercise walking.
Most of all, plan to have fun! Attending bridal shows is sure to help you enjoy planning your wedding and to share this exciting time with others.
V.P. of the Association for Wedding Professionals, International