Bride Guide | Surviving The Bridal Show

Having not only been a bride myself but also a vendor at several bridal shows I have learned many tips and tricks along the way that I wish I'd known the moment I stepped into my first bridal show.  Shows can be very overwhelming!  There are a lot of gimmicks, noises, people, vendors, and things to take in.  Even smaller shows can leave you with information overload that leaves you more confused than when you walked in, but if done right a bridal show can be a valuable planning tool to help you out on your Big Day.

Here are some quick tips to making the most of any bridal show you attend, starting with what you can do before the show to prepare and after the show to make the most of the information you've gathered.

1) Create a Wedding Specific Email Account
-As a bride there are a ton of resources out there for you, and I'm not just talking about bridal shows.  There are websites, blogs, message boards, and tip sites that can be of huge help during your planning.  Many of them communicate with you through email.  Creating an email specifically for wedding-related contacts can help you keep all of it in order, and not clutter up your main email account.   Especially after going to a bridal show you will be bombarded with emails from the companies you connected with at the show.  Many of those emails will contain valuable discounts and information and you will want to open them, but also don't want them getting lost in your main email inbox.  Don't forget to check your spam filter on this email as well, as some great deals can slip through into that.

2) Know Who You Want to See
-Many bridal shows will have a booth map available on their website or upon arrival at the show, as well as a list of vendors and what category they fall into.  If you have a pre-made list of vendors that you definitely want to stop and talk to it helps to know this ahead of time so you aren't forgetting anyone when you get there.  Even vendors you have already booked may be offering discounts and specials that they will allow you to take advantage of.  It's a good idea to visit every booth you can to see what's out there, but if you are pressed for time having a list ahead of time will help you get through faster.  If you are going in completely blind feel free to tackle the show strategically, going row by row and seeing all there is to see, but make note of anyone you want to double back and talk to more in detail on a piece of paper or note pad.

3) Create Contest Entry Labels
-This is one I did not know about until I was first a vendor at a bridal show, but it's genius!  Create small labels (no larger than a return address label) with your name, address, phone number, email, and wedding date on it.  When you get to a booth that is hosting a giveaway you want to end you can take the entry form and just place your label onto the form.  It will save you a lot of time writing out all of this information and your hand will thank you!  Be sure to check with the vendor to see if there is any other information they need to enter your into the giveaway, but for the most part I have not run across any giveaway that needs information besides what I just listed.

4) Bring a Friend
-Not everyone is really into wedding planning.  Selecting a friend or family member to go to the bridal show with you who IS into wedding planning may be more fun than dragging along someone who isn't.  When I was planning my wedding my best friend was also engaged, and we would go to shows together.  It was great to have a second opinion on things and to enjoy this time together.  My fiance (now husband) on the other hand, could care less!  He dragged his feet and complained the whole time at the one show I brought him to and I got nothing accomplished!

5) Eat a Small Meal Before You Go
-The food and cake samples are fantastic at most bridal shows!  Being able to enjoy those and not be full on lunch is highly recommended.  However, you will be doing a lot of walking and standing and carrying large bags full of stuff, so going hungry isn't recommended.

6) Wear Comfortable Shoes
-As mentioned above, you will be doing a lot of walking and standing.  Some booths will have seats where you can rest your feet for a minute or two, but expect to be on your feet the whole time.

7) Bring Some Money
-Be it credit card or check, coming to the show with some money, especially if you know for sure a vendor you want to book will be there, is a great way to get some amazing deals!  Many booths will have "Show Specials" that last through the show only, and these can mean really big savings.  Being able to give them money on the spot will ensure you can take advantage of these deals.

8) Grab a Bag Early
-When you actually get to the bridal show you will want to find the booth that has the large bag.  I have yet to go to a bridal show that doesn't have a large bag available for brides somewhere near the front of the show.  David's Bridal notoriously has the best bags and is usually positioned at the entry way to the show.  Stop by there and get one, you will need it!  Virtually every booth will have, at minimum, a brochure for you.  Some will offer other goodies like pens, candy, samples, etc.

9) Talk to Vendors
-You may be surprised to find out there was some aspect of your wedding day that you were overlooking, and by speaking to vendors you can determine if you are missing something you need.  I've had many brides not hire any sort of day of coordinator expecting one to be provided by the venue but it's not.  So even if you don't think you'll need something, see what they have to say and what they are offering.  You may discover you really connect with someone and want them to be a part of your wedding day, even if you weren't planning on having mini cupcakes as your wedding dessert.

10) Take Advantage of Freebies
-Most shows that I have been to has at least one booth offering a day of make-up trial or something similar.  I walked around a show with silky smooth hands once because I was able to get a fantastic hand scrub treatment right after walking in the door.   Once I even saw a booth offering free back massages and foot rubs (remember that bit about being on your feet all day?).  Don't hesitate to take advantage, it's what they are there for and a little pampering never hurt anyone!

11) Sort Through Material Right Away
-Especially if you know there are some vendors you want to contact or research right away, it's very helpful to go through the brochures and materials you received and separate the ones that really interest you from the ones that don't.  You can read their information more closely, go onto their websites to see package prices, or even set up a consultation meeting right away to take advantage of any limited time specials quickly.  I find I personally had the most initiation to do this immediately after the show and not several days later.

As always, you can take or leave my suggestions here!  This is not a hard set "must do" guide by any means, just some tips and suggestions based on my experience being on both sides of the bridal show experience.  Hopefully at least a few of these will help you out at your next bridal show.  And if you have any that you'd like to add I would love to hear about it in the comments section below!