This coming weekend (Sept. 30 - Oct. 1), SheenPhotos (Michael and I) will be at the Ottawa Wedding Palace Bridal Show at the Shaw Centre. Not only are we going as exhibitors, but we are also going as a newly-engaged couple looking for fellow wedding vendors to hire for our wedding. In preparing for the show, we came up with ten quick-tips on how you can make the most out of the bridal show!
1. Wear comfortable shoes!
Bridal show sizes can vary; some have limited numbers of vendors, while others are the size of an Ikea. Regardless of how big the show is, I highly recommend that you wear comfortable shoes! Something you can walk on for a couple of hours. The last thing you would want to do is skip out on vendor booths because your feet are aching!
2. Go Early (or at very least, know the schedule).
Bridal shows tend to be less busy in the first couple of hours. Coming in early will allow you more one-on-one time with the vendors that you are seriously considering for your wedding day. While I will not discourage you from watching the fashion show (if there is one), know that during the fashion show is also a good time to having a long chat with the vendors you are considering, especially since the majority of show-goers will likely be watching the fashion show!
3. Bring support; keep it small!
Bring friends, family, or members of the bridal party who will be there to help you in your quest to find the right vendors! The last thing you would want is to drag someone who can become impatient or grouchy after a few minutes of walking. Brief them on what you are looking for, and ask them for their honest opinion! I would say two people whose opinion you trust plus yourself is a good number!
4. Create a wedding-only email address
If you are like me, you will probably be filling in many discounts forms and contest ballots at the bridal show. Creating a wedding-email is a good way to have all your vendor correspondence all in one location without cluttering your personal inbox. Past the bridal show, having a wedding email is a good way to organize all your wedding-related emails so that nothing is missed!
5. Bring a bag.
You will get business cards, wedding swags, flyers, brochures, and many other promotional materials. You do not want to be carrying these in your hands the whole time you are walking around! Make sure to bring a reusable bag in which you can put these items. Sometimes wedding shows will give out tote bags, but do not just rely on these; they can run out if you are not early to the show!
6. Know who you want to meet ahead of time!
Some brides-to-be like to go in wedding shows blind, and I get that! It can be a fun way to open yourself up to different wedding ideas. I would still, however, recommend checking out the vendors' list (like this one, for the Wedding Palace) as a way to scope out the different vendors. Visit their website, see if the services they offer is something you want for your wedding.
7. Be ready to ask your questions.
Wedding shows are a good way to get to know the people who might be joining you in your wedding journey. Ask them gazillion questions! If you are looking for a photographer, ask them about their gear, their approach, how will they deliver your photos. Looking for a venue, ask them about catering, their coordinators, can you bring in your stuff. Asking questions is a good way to weed out vendors right off the bat. For those whom you feel a connection, schedule a meeting over coffee!
8. Remember your favorites.
I have a memory of a gold-fish. If you are like me, then you should definitely find a way to remember your favorite vendors from the wedding show. Ask for their card, take a photo of their booth, write their names on a notepad. A full-proof way is to sign up to their mailing list; they will surely get in touch with you after the wedding show!
9. Stay hydrated, well-fed, and take breaks when needed.
We are often told not to make decisions when we are hungry because we tend to make impulsive decisions. The same applies to the wedding show. Ensure that you have a full stomach and that you are hydrated. Take a break if you need to. Like tip #1 above, it can be difficult to make decisions or get inspired if your stomach is yelling at you!
10. Be open to ideas, get inspired, and have fun!
You are planning your wedding; it does not have to be all serious business. Try to have fun, try out dresses, get in the wedding spirit! Consider services or vendors you never imagined in your wedding. Look at and take notes of all the decorations! Be open to ideas!
Bonus: Bring mailing labels
Many vendors will ask for your name and a way to contact you (likely email address). If you are really keen, having mailing labels available will make sure you do not have to write the same information over and over and over again! For us vendors who likely giver out draw prizes, having a contact info we can read will make it easy for us to contact you if you win!!