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Attending bridal shows is one the best ways to get ideas and locate vendors for your wedding because they put you in touch with a variety of potential vendors under one roof, allowing you to compare products, services and prices.
Seeing the options can be exciting but, depending on the number of participating vendors, bridal shows can also be overwhelming and exhausting if you are unprepared or if you don’t have a plan in mind. These tips are designed to help you save time and money by making the most of the bridal show “one-stop shopping” opportunity.
To stay focused, make a list of vendors you still need beforehand. Plan to zero in on those vendors when you first arrive. Don’t waste your time or that of the vendor by visiting booths for services you’ve already booked. If you’ve already contracted for a photographer, you’ll just be second-guessing your decision by visiting other photographers.
A show can last several hours, so dress comfortably and wear a great-fitting pair of shoes. There may be a few food samples, but eat a meal before you go to maintain stamina. Carry water and fruit or an energy snack so you aren’t compelled to cut your show visit short. Arrive early on the day of the show. Use the time between fashion shows and major show events to pace yourself and see the booths in a relaxed manner.
Have a game plan
The mother-of-the-bride, sister, best friend, maid/matron of honor and others may want to accompany you. Before attending, explain your objectives to your helpers and that you will give them specific assignments in order to better cover the show. If you are shopping for your bridal dress, bridesmaids’ gowns, or mother-of-the bride dress, put attending a fashion show high on your list of objectives and ask your helpers to scope out flowers, for example. Once at the show, split up and have them report back to you at a specific time with any booth or product they think you should see for yourself before leaving.
Most bridal shows offer a vendor directory at registration. Keep the directory in hand for reference and recording notes on the vendors as you make your way through the show. If you locate a vendor whose services you wish to secure, check the vendor’s availability and schedule an appointment poste haste. Remember, they are there to book business, so you don’t want to procrastinate and miss out.
Bring address labels to use when signing up for vendor mailing lists or prizes and, basic as it seems, don’t forget extra pens. Be aware of the potential for telemarketing calls should you provide your phone number, but also remember that not listing your telephone number may eliminate you from opportunities to win valuable prizes.
Act on your research–quickly
Be prepared to act decisively. An advantage of attending bridal shows is that many vendors offer “show only” discounts, or special prices for a limited time.
Sure you’re busy, but wait no longer than two or three days following the show to sort through and organize all vendor materials accumulated from the event. Segregate the data that merits further investigation so you can begin making your calls while the information is still fresh in your mind. Nothing is worse than assuming you can take your time and discovering what you want is no longer available because you procrastinated. Many vendors become completely booked within two weeks following the show, so make contact as soon as possible.
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.