Well, you are getting married… Congratulations! Wedding fairs can be daunting or jolly good fun when you can indulge in all things wedding. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of attending wedding fairs.
1. Set your budget BEFORE doing anything. Before booking a venue, buying your dress… I’ve heard brides say they aren’t sure how much everything costs so haven’t set a budget – but you know what you can afford. Being in debt for years afterwards takes the enjoyment off a single day. Make your wedding fit your budget – not the other way around. Breakdown your budget so you know how much you can pay for each part. I shall write another blog post about Wedding Budgeting – keep your eyes peeled!
2. Pick who you go with carefully. I’ve seen bored grooms – but generally when they are tagging along behind a cooing gaggle of the bride’s friends. Grooms with their brides are mostly more involved. Remember you may meet your ideal supplier and it is much better if both of you are there. Think of those family members and friends who you trust to look dispassionately at suppliers and offer unbiased opinions, and who take your interests into account. I see lots of people accompanying brides who don’t consider the bride’s wishes and offer their own thoughts and ideas. Weddings can be political but try not to fall into the trap of asking everyone because you think you should. Less is definitely more.
3. Some ideas for what to take to the wedding fair:
* Pre-printed address slips – this will save loads of time because you will find you have to write your name and address lots of times. You could splurge on business cards (Vistaprint?) with both your names on, address, wedding date, contact details – suppliers would love you!
* A long-handled tote bag for all those flyers and samples. You can carry it over your shoulder once it gets heavy! (or at least the groom can!)
* Notepad and pen. You are likely to see lots of ideas or end up chatting to other brides-to-be and glean snippets of pure gold. Jot them down! Make notes on each supplier too to help remind you who you especially liked once you get home. Maybe put an asterisk on business cards of those suppliers you like.
* Ideas, colours, themes. Take these with you to show suppliers. They will love to see them and may offer suggestions and ideas you hadn’t thought of.
4. Pick up all the offers and goodie bags. Suppliers spend a lot of money booking a stand and therefore want to attract business. They generally have show offers, discounts, competitions and/or freebies – collect them all! Enter all competitions! Even if you have already sorted that part of your wedding – unfortunately you never know what might happen and you may need to make a last minute change. Some suppliers offer special deals if you book that day – if you feel comfortable making the decision, go ahead – if you don’t, buy yourself time by reading the terms and conditions in the refreshment area (you probably need a cuppa by now anyway!). Good suppliers will understand if you need to give it some thought – and will be prepared to give you some thinking time by booking a follow up appointment after the show.
5. Create a wedding email. Give this email address out to suppliers. After your wedding you can then delete the account. This stops your inbox getting clogged and important messages getting lost.
6. Some wedding fairs have demos, workshops and fashion shows. Find out the timings on the wedding fair website so you don’t miss out.
7. Research who will be attending. Wedding fairs often publish who will be exhibiting on their website. If it is a big event, plan your route so you see who you want to.
8. Talk to everyone. Suppliers, other brides and grooms. Everyone. Make a list of questions before you go and ask them. For example, how much they charge, exactly what you get (and what you don’t get), how many meetings you’d have before your wedding day… (I feel another blog post coming on!). I’ve seen lots of people walking around wedding fairs doggedly refusing to catch any supplier’s eye. If you’ve already got a photographer – talk to other photographers because they may give you an idea for a unique photo that your photographer hasn’t thought of! On your wedding day you should be surrounded by suppliers who you like and unless you talk to them you don’t know if you like them or not! In addition, some suppliers will have incentives that you could use on a different occasion (eg discount on a haircut or meal).
9. Wear comfortable clothing, especially shoes. Take a coat if it’s chilly because some exhibitors may be outside (cars, mobile caterers, marquee companies, etc). I’ve been to some wedding fairs that are cold indoors because the main doors are open letting in an Arctic blast, and others that are overheated.
10. Choose a relevant wedding fair. If you want a ‘handmade wedding’ choose a Handmade Wedding Fair. They are advertised by venues, in bridal publications, on general wedding events websites, or websites belonging to wedding fair organisers. Bridal shops often have flyers too. It is popular for wedding venues to have their own fair, with only their own suppliers present, just to show off the venue. Others will be more general. If the fair is in a wedding venue – whether organised by the venue or not – no other venue will be there. If you want to see other venues, choose a national event or one held in a community hall.
I hope this is useful. The best bit about wedding fairs is they can open your eyes to ideas or confirm aspects you aren’t keen on. Go with an open mind. Remember that the planning process should be fun. Surround yourself with supportive people and enjoy the ride! Your wedding day is Your Day – keep focussed on your plans and listen to, but park, other people’s opinions.