Your Ultimate Guide to Bridal Shows
Jessie from Unnamed Films, here. Before I started working in the wedding vendor booth, I visited bridal shows as a bride! I have a few tips and tricks from both the sides of the table that can help you get the most bang for your buck at the bridal show.
Bridal shows can range from intimate to intense, with dozens or even hundreds of vendors all looking to chat with brides and grooms on their way to the big day. It can be daunting to know how to navigate, and if you don’t do the right prep, you can find yourself at the dinner table the next day surrounded by brochures without a clue who was who and what to do next! From RSVP to the afterparty, here’s how you can maximize your time at the bridal show.
Start with the Basics (The Bridal Show Basics)
Who should go to a bridal show?
This can feel like a daunting question. Am I too far from my date? Too close? Is my budget too small? Lay those fears aside, friend, because anyone is welcome at the bridal show. Especially couples who still have some holes in their wedding day roster that they need to fill! Whether you’re coming with a blank slate or with only slots for a baker and a painter left—you're likely to find what you need at a bridal show.
Who should I bring?
Many bridal shows encourage plus-ones, or even plus-fives! It’s hard to know how many people is too many when it comes to your entourage, but here’s a good rule of thumb: bring whomever you’ll be texting or calling to help you make your final decision on a vendor. If you’re torn between two florists, who would you call? Is it mom, your maid of honor, and your fiancé? If so, there’s your bridal show crew. I find a smaller crew is better (just two or three extra peeps); a larger crew often breaks off anyway, and while you’re talking one-on-one with a vendor, you’ll notice your friends shifting on their feet and waiting anxiously for the next free sample!
Before the Wedding Show
Should you prepare before the show? In my experience, yes! You can fly blind at the show, but you’ll find yourself faced with questions and decisions you won’t know the answers to, which can prevent you from getting the most out of your experience.
What to Know Before the Show
You should know a few key things before you head to the show: your wedding date (if you’ve just gotten engaged, have an idea of at least the year and month or season), the names of the vendors you’ve already booked, and the email and phone number you’d like vendors to use when contacting you. Make sure anyone who would give out an email address uses the same one so all of the details you’ll need will go to one place.
Finally, be sure to bring an open mind! There will be vendors you hadn’t even considered at these events, and some of them might provide just the thing you’ve been needing to complete your perfect day.
Should I RSVP to the Bridal Show?
Yes, yes, yes! RSVP-ing ahead of time helps you to plan in advance, but it can also enter you into unique drawings and prize opportunities you may not otherwise have! Shows that charge for entry may also offer a discount to guests who RSVP ahead of time. Forgot to RSVP? Don’t skip the show! Just by showing up, you’ll open the door to tons of opportunities you would otherwise miss.
How to Make a Game Plan
Start by writing out your goals for the day. Don’t be afraid to make a note or keep them in your phone! Which vendor slots are you looking to fill? What budgets are you wanting to keep to? What are you NOT interested in? Answers to these questions will help you to organize your time on-site.
Pro Tip: Delegate!
When you’re bringing a crew with you, you can maximize your time at the show by giving them something to do. Some roles you can delegate may include note-taker, sample-keeper, or goal-tracker! For example, if you’re going with your mom, your maid of honor, and your fiancé, you might ask your MoH to take notes, your mom to keep track of the list of goals you’ve created, and your fiancé to take charge of acquiring and holding onto samples and paperwork.
What to wear
Some folks are concerned about what they should wear to the bridal show. As someone who dressed to the nines for her first show—don't' sweat it! From the vendor booth, we see brides decked out in heels and their “Future Mrs.” sash, but we also see brides in sweats and a winter coat. Wear whatever will help you to have FUN being celebrated as a future bride or groom!
Where to go
When you’re at the show, things can get intense fast. We recommend starting with a walkthrough to get a feel for the layout. Ask your note-taker to keep track of vendors you’d like to come back to and spend one-on-one time with. You might also ask your note-taker to take photos of the vendors you like best, or to take notes right on the cards, flyers, pamphlets, and brochures so you can remember who you’d like to talk to after the show.
What to do
Have FUN! Enjoy being celebrated as a future bride or groom. Be sure to take all of the freebies, sample all of the delicious drinks, food, and sweets, and enjoy the show!
After the Show
After the show, REST! It’s a huge day, there’s a lot of information flying around, and you don’t need to book most vendors same-day to get the deals! Collect your samples and notes from your bridal show crew and take the rest of the day off. Then, a day or two later, sit down with your fiancé and chat about which vendors you liked, which vendors you didn’t, and any who you might want to book! Keep in mind the exclusive bridal show deals that you won’t find anywhere else. Then, in the coming weeks, get those slots filled and keep the wedding planning going! And keep an eye on your inbox for possible prizes and deals from vendors you visited at the show.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Should I give out my email?
Remember how I suggested to decide on the email and phone number you’ll be giving to vendors? Consider making a unique email for your wedding to give out. You can also use the same email you give at the counter when a cashier asks for it. The trick is, whatever email you give, you have to check it! Otherwise, you might not know if you were a lucky winner of a giveaway, discount, or other bridal show perk. My pro tip? Set a little reminder in your phone once or twice per week to check your email until the sweepstakes have ended or your wedding date has come and gone.
Should I watch the fashion show?
Some of the larger wedding shows you might visit may a fashion show on their schedule. You can grab a seat and watch these shows to admire the latest in wedding fashion, from tuxedos to wedding dresses to bridesmaids dresses, even the occasional mother of the bride or flower girl dress! As a bonus, it’s a great time to rest your feet so you can come back to the show feeling refreshed. Already have all of your clothes picked out? This is the perfect moment to steal some one-on-one time with your favorite vendors while the rest of the crowd moves to sit by the stage.
What types of shows should I go to?
There are bigger shows and smaller shows, and while you can get a lot out of both kinds, each has their strengths and weaknesses. Bigger shows have more options for vendors, but you’re less likely to get one-on-one time with a vendor. Smaller shows may be more selective of the vendors they include, but you’ll be more likely to have one-on-one time with a vendor to get your questions answered. If you’ve got slots on your roster to fill, I suggest trying a little of each. You can check out our list of upcoming shows here.
Are you by chance looking for a videographer for the big day? If so, contact us to learn how we can help you to capture and preserve your wedding day memories, till death do us part.