On Sunday, September 21, our local Bridal Association held the annual Fall Bridal Show and Benefit where this year, 82 vendors in the wedding industry came together to showcase their trade and put their best foot forward to meet planning brides. It proved to be one of the most attended shows, by brides and vendors alike, which is always a good reflection of those involved!

The bridal shows have become fun for us on a few different levels of participation. We get to enjoy the “bride” side by guiding current clients that we are wedding planning with and making sure they hit certain booths while at the show to do side by side comparisons. Then, we also get to exhibit as a “vendor” but more importantly, assist other vendors in booth design and rentals to help make their booths look the best they can! Here are a few of our favorite reasons from both sides of why bridal shows are pertinent to planning…

Why attend as a bride?

Style – Yes, as a “designing” company, this is always one we stress! Whether you are selecting vendors or just visiting with ones you already have contracted, you want to know they have a sense of style that fits with what you are planning. Your styles don’t have to match, you just have to have confidence that your florist, baker, wedding coordinator, wedding designer/decorator, rental company, photographer and videographer (to name a few) have the ability to read your style and execute what your vision is.
ComparisonThis is one chance you get to have vendors of the same trade in one location where you can pick their brains and decide which you feel most comfortable with, whether it is that you make your decision that day or set up a follow up appointment to make that final agreement. Ask them the same questions, don’t be afraid to talk price, and use the time as a mini interview session.
IdeasYou may already have your vendors selected, or your wedding may be out of town, but going to bridal shows can often trigger the creative juices and add some element of surprise for your wedding. If you find something you love there, don’t be afraid to talk to the vendor about it. They should be more than happy to share the tricks of the trade even if you aren’t able to work together.
GiveawaysThat’s right, free things! Most bridal shows offer door prizes, hourly drawings, vendor booth drawings, and/or grand prizes that can really add up when you’re tallying up your budget. Don’t miss that opportunity!
Girls dayTake your mom, his mom, your girlfriends and bridesmaids and just make a day of it! This can be a good bonding time for all of you without being too overwhelming with opinions and will give everyone something to focus on. They can even have wedding specific jobs after attending the show as you get details nailed down.
Eat Cake!…and all other goodness! – Possibly one of the most fun components of planning any wedding…the cake tastings! At bridal shows, you get to taste multiple cakes by multiple vendors so you can be absolutely confident they one you have chosen is the one that matches your taste buds. But not only do you get to sample multiple cakes while at the show, you get to sample the culinary work of different caterers as well.

Why attend as a vendor?

StyleShow it off! As vendors we should be flexible with the way we work our style to make sure that the end product reflects the wishes of the client. But the bridal show is an instance, just like in a vendor’s office/showroom/personal space, that we all get to use our creativity and show what our personal style is which is a huge draw for clients and should be a lot of fun for vendors. Use trendy colors or themes, or stick with something traditional and classic that always screams your name. Just do your thing!
NetworkingWorking in a like industry we need to know who we are working with, who offers what services, what names go with what businesses, and be able to share stories, business laughs and referrals. Most of the time when we are all working together it is at a wedding or event, so the shows are a little more light hearted, a little less focused on one client and can typically spare a few good conversations. It also helps to know who you like on a personal level so that you can share that, and professional experiences, with your clients. We all know how powerful word of mouth is!
Meet those bridesWhat other opportunity are you going to have to be in a room with 250-400 brides who are in the middle of planning their weddings?! This is your platform! I hear people say all the time, “The shows don’t really work for me.” If that’s the case, no big deal, but make sure you track that progress. Know going in what will make it successful for you. How many bookings do you need to get to cover your costs? How many bookings do you need to get to exceed your expectations? Set goals and make those connections with the brides that you can feel are the right fit with you. It is a hard realization as a vendor, but we are not meant to work with all clients. A bridal show brings these different personalities to you for a mini speed dating session so that you can gather their information and follow up down the road to make sure you reconnect.
A day out of the officeThis can mix it up a little bit and give you a different line up in your schedule! In the wedding industry 8am-5pm jobs are not the norm, but this can help get you out of the office, stop the computer work, and get the social chatter going. It is usually a welcome break.
Team buildingThis is a good opportunity to give different members of your team “Bridal Show” related jobs and see how they handle the task of setting up, exhibiting and pulling together a full concept of a booth. There are more components that go into it than some expect and working on projects such as this are good steps for those coming into the industry. Make sure as the manager, or owner, that you help along the way and know what the end product will be so that you can give your stamp of approval because ultimately you will hold the responsibility.

To those who attended as brides, we enjoyed meeting you and talking briefly about your wedding plans. We’ve been excited to start relationships after the show and will enjoy seeing those weddings bloom.

To those who attended as vendors, we enjoyed talking with you, seeing your ideas and style and will see you again soon.

To those who were on the planning side of the show, job well done and congratulations on the contribution that will be given to Pink Alliance at the October banquet. The donation is always such a high point!

Happy planning, businesses and brides. xoxo

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