Hello Winnipeg and welcome to bridal show season! With the majority of engagements happening over the Christmas season and over Valentine’s Day it’s no wonder our city comes alive with wedding shows and open houses typically between January and March.
As a vendor it can be exhausting and expensive, all the time planning booths, inspiration tables, promotions, reviewing print work, printing canvases, creating slideshows, collaborating with your favourite spaces and people in hopes to capture a wider audience, a different audience, a new one. The wedding industry can be a difficult one to market in because you are literally always looking for new clients. It can also be really fun to see everyone in the industry, not just at a wedding, but to have real time to catch up, check in on each others families, successes and challenges.
As a bride or groom wedding show season can be overwhelming. Yep. I said it. Overwhelming.
When I was a venue coordinator I would see it happen every year. Wedding shows. Open houses. Then came the phone calls or the emergency “we have to see you this week” meetings. Sometimes these calls were accompanied by tears, the panicking brides who suddenly felt like they hadn’t done enough by now or feeling pressured to book right now to get the specials that only come around once a year.
Now this isn’t a bash on wedding shows and open houses. They can be great resources for couples looking for vendors and great for inspiration. Now you’ll read all the articles on the internet about wearing sensible shoes, taking water, collecting brochures and making sure you have enough time to get through everything you need to see, which is all great advice. What I want to talk about though is the overwhelmed part - how to go to a wedding show and not walk away overwhelmed.
If you are just starting out with your wedding plans, make a list of priorities for your day, this can often help you narrow down what areas to look at first.. Have a rough idea of your guest count and have the money talk. What do you want to spend? There’s no sense in visiting a venue for an open house that is too small or too big or way out of your budget range.
Remember that every wedding is different. Every couple’s priorities for the day are individual to them. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in things you don’t really want or need because it’s feeling trendy.
Plan ahead. A couple of weeks prior to the wedding show research some of the participants in categories that you need to look at. Narrow down which ones look like they fit your style or budget and mark them down. Print the floor plan of the show and go as far to even mark what booth numbers they are or mapping out the route you want to take (Geek moment - I do this with the wine show every spring and it brings me so much joy, but it also makes such a huge difference in our experience). This can help you from get distracted or bombarded by all the items you don’t need.
If you’re looking to talk to the vendors then going during the fashion show can be an ideal time because most of the other attendees are watching while the vendors are hanging out in their booths.
Don’t take paperwork from every booth you pass by but only the ones that really strike you or the people that you connected with so that you can research them later to see if they might be a good fit.
Limit your crowd. Taking a lot of people that are all trying to be helpful can sometimes not be helpful. Pick just a couple close people that know you well and have a sense of what your style and what you’re looking for. Have one of them keep a notebook handy for points or pricing that are important when you are getting to know people.
If you have hired a wedding planner, email or meet with them prior to the show to do a check in. I have had a number of couples do this recently and hope that it’s been helpful. Ask for recommendations from them to help narrow the choices or to point out things you should be focusing on first. If you haven’t hired a wedding planner, the wedding show is a great time to find one that you love!
Enjoy the day. Enjoy being engaged. Yes, it’s busy and bustling, but what I know from being on this side of things is that most wedding professionals do what they do because they love their jobs and their clients. We all strive to meet our ideal clients, but in that we form some really amazing friendships when we are lucky enough to connect with people like you.