Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Bridal Show and How to Swing It

Dresses! Cakes! Photography! One of my brides calls it “live wedding porn” and it can be just as educational as the other kind. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, this is your chance to see what’s out there that will work for you. If you don’t know exactly what you want, here’s where you can get some ideas, which also works for you DIY-ers out there, too. Checking out rows and rows of examples of how it’s done is the first step for you to figure out how to do it yourself.

The Prep
Most of the big bridal shows take place on Sundays, starting at 10 or 11 in the morning, with a fashion show around noon, and closes at 4 or 5pm. Wedding websites like or will list all local shows that are coming up - your pick. CLICK THROUGH TO THE SHOW WEBSITES!! Many offer a discount if you register and purchase your tickets online, and even though you’ll only save a buck or two, it’s worth it to not have to stand in line to pay when you get there. Also, if you have some handy, print out a sheet of return-address-sized labels with your name, email address and wedding date on them, so you avoid carpel tunnel syndrome when you want to sign up for more info at a booth.

The Plan
The last two to three hours of the show are going to be the most crowded, so go early. Vendors will have more time to talk one on one with you, and vice versa. Give yourself at least a couple of hours to walk through the floor. The bridal fashion show (pretty dresses!) will around be noon, so if you show up an hour earlier, you can do the rounds, talk to the vendors you’ll really interested in, grab a seat at the show, do another quick round to make sure you didn’t miss anything and get another piece of cake, and get out.

The Process
Before you go in, you’ll be given a bag with of wedding-related swag, but the important part is that you have a bag to put vendor info in. Things can get pretty overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and don’t just randomly pick up every brochure/flyer from every booth. Focus only on the vendors you still need, or are really interested in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – "Are you available on my date?" "Can you work with my budget (use this if you need to figure it out,and enjoy the other goodies)?" "I really want to do x, y, or z, have you done that before and/or can you tell me/show me pictures of how you would/did?" Think about chemistry, as well – you’ll be working with this person from now until your wedding, and probably all day AT your wedding, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. Don’t feel pressured to book them right there, even if there’s a discount (you will be asked at one or more booths), but don’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up appointment if you like what you see – ask nicely if you can still have the discount if you decide to hire them. Yes, they can always say no, but you can always say no, too – as I tell my brides, the last vendor you meet is not the last option you have. And bridal shows are all about options.

Have Fun!

Taste the cakes, take a turn in the photo booth, squee at the flower arrangements, jockey for that front row seat at the fashion show. It’s all there for you. Enjoy!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith

Got questions? Ask them in the comments!
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