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If you're getting married, a Bridal Show is a great place to get started. Since 1996, I have attended or participated in over 150 Bridal Shows, and I thought I would pass on some tips to you, to make your trip a little easier. You can find local Bridal Shows being held anywhere from malls to hotels, convention centers and wedding facilities. You can expect to see anywhere from 10 to over 100 wedding vendors, and every single one of them is competing for your business. What to do? How to start? What to bring?
If possible, find out which vendors will be participating in the show before you attend. This will help you map out your plan of attack. Knowing who will be there in advance, as well as maybe having a layout of the show itself, you can seek out the vendors you really want to talk to, and those that aren't so important to you.
Wear comfortable shoes and leave your coat in the car. Many shows do not offer coat check and it can become quite a burden to lug your coat, your purse, your brochures, and everything else around! This is why you need to?see next item!
Bring someone with you! Bring your Mother, a Bridesmaid, and yes, your fiancé may even enjoy himself! They can help you with collecting information and would be happy you included them in the planning process! As for your fiancé? Just tell him that he can win free stuff and eat free cake!
Other than some cake samples, and possibly appetizers, most Bridal Shows will not have food or drink available to purchase. Make sure you eat before you go, and bring a beverage.
Don't take too many people with you. They'll wander off and you'll spend all your time trying to keep everyone together instead of focusing on your goals for the day.
Bring address labels. I recommend printing out labels on your home computer with your name, address, phone number, email address and wedding date. I also recommend opening a free email account that is designated strictly for all the wedding info you will receive and then cancel them email account after you have booked all of your vendors! You can also rent a P.O. Box to handle all the wedding brochures and mailings you will receive, and then cancel the PO Box when you no longer want the mailings. However, just remember, these vendors will use the information you provide for them ? if you don't want sales pitch phone calls or mailings, simply do not give out your phone number or address! You may miss a great deal though!
Bring the following items: pen, notebook, date book, checkbook, credit card and a large tote bag to carry everything in. Many vendors offer special pricing if you book with them and leave a deposit with them the day of the show. Still not sure if this vendor is truly the one you want? Ask if they would be willing to extend the special price to you for any length of time after the show. Most vendors won't have a problem working with you. If they say no, it makes you wonder why you need to do it RIGHT THERE AND THEN! Say thank you, and pass on by. Maybe it wasn't meant to be.
Before you place that deposit, be 100% sure that you have read and agree to all the details on their contract concerning the description of what it is you are signing up for and their policies. What sounds like a great deal won't be so great if you later find out the DJ takes an hour break and your cake doesn't come with a stand!
If you plan on attending the Fashion show portion of the day, make sure you arrive at least an hour early. Seating is often first come, first serve, and if you've brought all 12 of your Bridesmaids along, you want to guarantee good seats for everyone!
If attending the Fashion Show isn't so important to you, then use that time to visit with the vendors. Since the majority of brides will be watching the show, you will have a better chance to actually talk to a vendor and it will be a much quieter atmosphere.
If you are provided with a "Bride" sticker, don't be embarrassed to wear it! It can become confusing for vendors to identify everyone that attends, and if they know you are the bride, you are more likely to get special treatment!
When filling out any contest entries or door prize drawing slips, print clearly! Who would want to miss out on winning a free limo for their wedding because no one could read your phone number?
The best place to take notes is on the actual brochure handed out by each vendor. That way you connect a face to your notes, to your brochure, and it will be easier to remember when you make your follow up calls.
Most shows will charge a nominal fee for attendance. Make sure you pre-register if the option is available, and don't be too embarrassed to call the company hosting the show to see if they offer any discounts on admission.
Enjoy yourself! It's just a bridal show! Nothing HAS to be set in stone that day. Many of the bigger shows will be crowded and noisy ? don't let this deter you! Use this time to gather information and enjoy any of the special offers extended to you. You are the Bride; you make the rules when dealing with vendors. It's YOUR day, not theirs!
Charity Plaster is the Owner of A Charmed Event, a wedding and event planning company. She is a Certified Wedding Coordinator, creator of a local Wedding Workshop and licensed Officiant who has helped hundreds of couples bring their dream weddings to life.