This is the time of year when many cities host bridal shows. They can be a great opportunity for brides and grooms to make connections with vendors, get inspiration, and maybe even win a free prize! Here is what you need to know to make the most of a bridal show.
Not all bridal shows are created equal, but most charge admission, so it is a good idea to get a sense of each one in your area and then choose one or two shows which will best suit your needs. This is especially smart if you plan to bring your fiance – let’s face it, most guys are not going to be up for spending every Saturday hitting one bridal show after another! If you can narrow it down, he might be willing to tag along with less grumbling.
In general, some bridal shows are geared more towards high end vendors and some are more budget oriented. It might be worthwhile to attend a more exclusive bridal show for inspiration, even if you may not opt to work with any of the vendors you meet there, but a bride planning a designer wedding would probably not find the lower end shows to be particularly useful. Some other things to find out before attending a bridal show would be which ones have fashion shows (so fun!), what vendors will be there, and if they have any great giveaways lined up.
One of the best reasons to go to bridal shows is to find some of the smaller vendors who are otherwise not so easy to locate. People like calligraphers, letterpress stationers, horse and buggy companies, and musicians are the wedding vendors who are often in attendance at a bridal show. You can meet some really specialized artists who can add a lot of style to your wedding, but who do not have a storefront which would make their location obvious. Chat up vendors to get recommendations, too; if you find a baker whose custom cakes really impress you, ask her if she has a favorite stationer. Many of the wedding professionals know each other, and can steer you towards a great pick.
Bridal shows can be overwhelming, so it is a good idea to prioritize your reasons for being there. If you have already signed a contract for a reception venue, for instance, don’t waste your time visiting the tables of other locations wondering “what if”. Be sure to bring a pen and your wedding planning binder so you have a place to make notes and organize any cards and brochures that you pick up. Jot down your impressions on each vendor’s card or pamphlet, otherwise you will get home and wonder, “Why did I take that person’s card?” and, “Which one did those fabulous cupcakes?”
For most brides, one of the top things to do at a bridal show is check out wedding fashions. Even if you already have your gown, the runway show is a highlight not to be missed. First of all, it is just plain fun! In addition, you can get a sense of the current trends in wedding gowns, veils, hairstyles, and pearl and crystal bridal jewelry. The bride who has already found her dream gown might see some crystal bridal jewelry that she really likes, or notice a fresh way to style her bridal ensemble that she had never thought of until that moment. And if you are still shopping for the perfect wedding gown, by all means, take notes on any dresses that you adore. If you can find your ideal wedding dress at the bridal show, it will certainly be worth the admission!