Navigating the Bridal Show

weddingplanning

If I have been too quiet over the last week, blame my failure on my efforts to dedicate some time towards making real progress in actually identifying some vendors for my wedding. Last week, I was tipped off by our reception coordinator at the Brew Works that she would be at a bridal show at her local Holiday Inn this past weekend. After doing some research, I learned that the same Holiday Inn would be holding another bridal event just a few days earlier, exhibiting the services of one particular All-In-One wedding planning company that specializes in providing DJs, Photographers, and Videographers. Thinking I could knock out the rest of my wedding planning in one weekend, and score some awesome prizes, I signed up for both events.

Perhaps I had some lofty expectations. I did walk away with tons of information to sift through, and one or two cool freebies. While I continue to peruse the "Bridal Show Special Offers" that were presented to me, I can share a few things I learned for all brides who may be attending their first event in the upcoming weeks.

  • Go hungry. The number of wedding "cakeries" presenting at the bridal show I attended were ultimately responsible for setting me back five pounds on my weight loss goals. I also scheduled three cake tasting consultations. Is that like dating too many people at once? I feel like I have to keep them from knowing about each other.
  • Bring a friend. One of my best friends decided to come to the All-In-One demo with Fiance and me. Within five minutes of entering the hotel ballroom, she recognized the director of the event as an old friend from college. It's good to know people in high places; our friend got a big hug, and we got a big discount on the services that we booked that evening.  At the Bridal Show, I dragged a friend from high school to come help me scope out other vendors we still needed.  Her biggest contributions included keeping me organized and visiting the vendors whose services I truly wasn't interested in on my behalf - after all, we needed each vendor's signature in order to submit our contest entry form to win big prizes for the day.
  • Your Fiance might not hate it. I had heard from our reception coordinator that brides occasionally bring their grooms to the bridal show, and they generally look pretty bored. I passed the warning on to Fiance, who decided to tag along anyway. He enjoyed tasting every food sample as much as I did, got jazzed up at the hope of winning prizes (particularly a round of golf being offered up by one of the country clubs in attendance), and walked out with a free tux rental for the Father of the Bride.
  • Prepare to receive a lot of phone calls and e-mail in the week following. All of those little side contests the vendors run are really just an opportunity to add you to their prospecting list, and they will pursue you. I have already politely declined offers for 2 wedding planners, 3 DJs, and laser hair removal.
Needless to say, I walked into these shows a wedding planning novice and left an intermediate.  I'll need to hold expert status before I tackle the next challenge; figuring out how to fit all of my favorite vendors into our budget.
What is your advice for brides attending shows this season? Feel free to share any upcoming shows you know about here!