If you are newly engaged and are anything like me, you probably started thinking about bridal shows within hours of getting engaged. The door prizes! The food samples! The great discounted rates if I book today! These are a few of the many things that attract brides and grooms to bridal shows. But what happens if the bridal show turns out to be more of a nightmare than a dream come true?
It is a sad but true fact that bridal shows are usually a chaotic zoo filled with anxious brides and grooms dashing around amidst a sea of overly pushy vendors. My fiance and I recently attended a local bridal show and were caught off guard by how much of a state of disarray everything appeared to be in. We couldn’t tell where the lines started or where they ended, we couldn’t read the table signs telling us who each vendor was because of the many couples standing in front of us, and within about 20 minutes we were tired of hearing the “you can save $500 if you book with us today!” speech EVERY vendor seemed to be pitching. Where was all that free food we were promised? Where were all the free gifts we saw advertised? The bridal show seemed like a waste of a perfectly good day, but we decided to stick around in hopes that we would win the free honeymoon to Jamaica that was supposedly going to occur at 2:45.
While bridal shows often resemble the mess mentioned above, they can actually be a haven of information when you begin your planning process. It can be confusing trying to find a potential list of photographers, caterers, bakers and DJs. Bridal shows take out the hassle of searching around because they bring many of the vendors in your area together under one roof. Think of it as a three-dimensional phonebook complete with portfolios and samples for you to browse through. However, that browsing can be difficult when 300 other couples are in the room with you. By following these helpful tips, you can not only survive a bridal show, but actually enjoy attending one.
Make a Wedding Email Address First
This tip may sound silly, but you will be glad you did it after attending a bridal show. Almost every vendor you visit will likely offer some kind of grand prize drawing as a means of collecting your information so that they can contact you later if you do not book that day. An email address is often a part of the information they ask you for. After attending a bridal show, I can promise you will receive hundreds of emails from wedding vendors begging you to book their services. A wedding email address will keep these from filling up your business or personal email address and will make the process of sorting through vendors you are interested in much easier. Sites like Google.com and Yahoo.com allow you to create email addresses for free, so take advantage of this great deal before you even think about attending a bridal show.
Save the Front for Last
One of the most overwhelming moments of your life will be that first second you walk into a bridal show and realize that there are literally hundreds of people standing in the way of you and your dream photographer. This is especially true if you show up right as the bridal show begins. Instead of following the herd of couples and checking out the vendors at the front of the venue, try to make your way to the back. While there will still be couples checking out these vendors, it will be far less congested than the front. Look at these vendors first and then make your way back to the front just as the horde of couples are making their way to the back. This method has two major benefits; one, your bridal show experience will not resemble an overly crowded mosh pit, and two, you will have more time to actually speak with vendors you are interested in instead of simply handing them your information.
Browse During the Fashion Show
If you want some actual one-on-one time with a vendor that sparks your interest, save it for the fashion show. Fashion shows will likely draw the attention of every bride in the room, pulling them away from that limo company you want to speak to and allowing you to be the center of the vendor’s attention.
Just Say No
While bridezilla behavior is a definite no-no, it is perfectly acceptable to put your foot down and tell a vendor “no” if they are overly pushing for you to book that day. While vendors will tell you that the great rates offered that day are a once in a lifetime opportunity, this is usually false. We saw many vendors offering special “discounted” rates at the bridal show they claimed were available only on that day only to receive three emails in the next few weeks offering us the same prices. The bottom line is a good vendor is always open for negotiation to secure your business. Do not book anything the day you go to the bridal show. If you were buying a car, wouldn’t you price shop first? Take a few days to a few weeks to really look at all of the vendors you saw that day. Compare their services and prices to other similar vendors. Check out their websites or arrange tastings BEFORE you commit to booking.