Whether you’re newly engaged or already in the throes of wedding planning, nothing helps you check off more boxes on your to-do list than a bridal show. Where else can you find so many wedding service providers in the same room? All you have to do is start asking questions and collecting business cards.
There are lots of bridal shows in Southern Maryland over the next couple of months, so plan to attend more than one show. Different vendors will be invited to each show, and some shows are limited to one of each type of service provider.
Not sure how to maximize your bridal show experience? Here’s our step-by-step guide for getting the most out of bridal shows.
Step 1: Plan to spend the day.
Take time to prep before you leave home. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and gather everything you need to bring: address labels and business cards (for entering drawings or filling out forms), a notebook and pen, your calendar or planner, your checkbook and credit card, fabric or ribbon swatches, and a tote bag to hold all the goodies you’re going to get from vendors.
Want a second opinion? Bring your mom or another member of your bridal party. Don’t forget your groom! These are decisions he may want to be involved in, too. Beware of bringing too many people with you: you’ll spend more time keeping track of each other than enjoying the show.
Not every show has food samples, so don’t leave home hungry. Eat a small meal or snack so hunger doesn’t force you to leave early or distract you from all the beautiful things there will be to see.
Step 2: Be ready to shop.
Know your budget and prioritize the vendors you still need to hire. If you’ve already got a photographer, there’s no point in talking with others at the show. Visit first the vendors who limite how many weddings they work per weekend: Consultants, DJs, florists, limousines, photographers, and videographers, for example.
Take good notes on each conversation, either in your notebook or on the literature they give you. Keep track of names and your impressions of each person. Were you comfortable talking to them? Were they receptive to your ideas?
You’ve got your calendar, so if you talk to someone you’d like to learn more about, set up a follow-up appointment. Or, if you’re ready to hire someone at the show, do it! Some vendors will have show-only specials you can take advantage of, and they come to the show prepared to book, too.
Step 3: Take it all in.
Talk to as many vendors as you can and get as much literature and brochures as you can. Flip through sample books. Ask lots and lots of questions. If someone is offering samples, take them. Leave time for the bridal fashion show and other seminars. If you plan to spend the whole day at the show, you’ll have enough time for everything.
Look for ideas you can use at your own wedding. Vendors know what’s hot and what the current trends are. And, don’t be afraid to talk to other brides. It’s not a competition!
Step 4: Take action.
When you get home from the show, collect the opinions of those you brought with you, your notes, and all of the brochures and paperwork you picked up. Keep the program you were given when you entered the show — it will have vendors’ contact information. If you want to make appointments with anyone who was at the show, do it a day or two after the show. These vendors will book a lot of business immediately after the show. You don’t want to miss out.
Step 5: Have fun!
Bridal shows are festive events, so going will get you even more excited about your wedding. A bridal show is sure to re-energize you if wedding planning has started to stress you out. They can also be a great outing for you and your mom or attendants — even the groom! Make a day of it by getting together for dinner after the show to talk about everything you’ve seen.