Bridal Shows, especially if you’re headed to your first, are full of anticipation and excitement. There are vendors anxiously awaiting your arrival, booths so full of inspiration your head might spin a little, giveaways galore, deals to be had, and of course fashion shows.
Be ready though- there’s also a LOT of people and the larger shows can be somewhat overwhelming. So why should you attend a bridal show or two during your engagement? Because you will get to actually meet the vendors that you are looking for all in one place (a huge time saver) and because there is nothing more fun than chatting with other brides. This is a forum created just for you where you can talk rings, dresses, flowers, photographers, and invitations without anyone telling you that you are obsessed and need to get a life. You are with your people.
To get the most out of the wonderful shows Arizona has to offer, check out our Bridal Show Survival Tips:
1. Think comfort. This is not the time to show off your latest shoe find- you will be on your feet a lot and you want to enjoy yourself. A cute pair of ballet flats or boots will do the trick. Jeans or yoga pants are perfectly acceptable too. Throw on a scarf and you’re ready!
(Photo by: Sedona Bride)
2. Bring a tote bag. Many bridal shows will give you a bag upon arrival to carry your bridal show loot in but we think a large bag that fits over the shoulder is the way to go. You’ll be collecting massive amounts of information and you will want to have a bag that fits nicely over your shoulder and won’t potentially break.
3. Channel your inner Girl Scout. That’s right, I said Girl Scout. Even if you weren’t a Girl Scout, you know about being prepared and you know about the Golden Rule. First, pack water and your favorite energy bars (enough for everyone who is coming with you). There are usually opportunities to buy snacks at the show but they come with lines that take away from enjoying the show itself (and have limited options). Some vendors will offer food but you don’t want to count on that for sustenance. Second, you will encounter many people doing the same thing as you- chatting with wedding vendors, looking for deals, entering giveaways- and let’s just agree that patience will be your friend. Sometimes a booth will only have 1 person manning it so they can only talk to one person at a time. If the vendor is intriguing enough, waiting to chat with him/her will be worth it.
4. Expect deals for on the spot booking. Many vendors offer show discounts. What you will also find is some vendors who want you to book on the spot for those discounts. You can certainly do this if you have done your research prior to the show and know who you are dealing with. However, if you don’t feel a connection with a particular vendor, take a pass. No good deal is worth potential drama or second-guessing down the road. You will find many talented and trustworthy vendors at these shows just make sure you do your research before signing any type of contract.
5. Bring pre-printed address labels. Many vendors will ask you to share your contact information with them for various reasons. You don’t want to write your name, address, phone and email each time you meet a vendor you’re curious about so print up some address labels prior to the show and voila! You will be uber-efficient and will have more time to visit more booths.
6. Set up a wedding email account prior to attending the show. You are going to be getting a lot of emails from all of the vendors at the show, even if you did not contact them personally. They all receive a list of attendees which has your information on it and they are legally allowed to contact you. Also, some vendors will need an email to contact you if you win a giveaway and some even offer discounts after the show to those who didn’t win. To avoid having your everyday email bombarded, use a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail to manage the influx. You’ll appreciate that this account is just for wedding communication which also helps you take a break from wedding planning when you need it (and you WILL need a break, trust us!).
7. Be aware of the “Bridal Show Effect”. Even though you’re going to have a ton of fun, you need to realize that you might get overwhelmed and a little swept up in the excitement. You know how it’s easier to make a decision about bridesmaid dresses when you’re choosing from 4 rather that 14? And you know how you simply cannot make a decision if you have 20 linens to choose from but when presented with 3, you’re able to decide? Same thing with bridal shows. Visiting 18 photographers, no matter how fabulous each one might be, is unrealistic. Feeling overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of choices is the Bridal Show Effect and you can overcome it by accepting that you will not get to every single booth and you might miss a fashion show (which is actually the best time to visit booths!).
8. Make sure your phone is charged. You will often get to enter giveaways from booths using your mobile device- take advantage of the technology available to you. Undoubtedly, you’ll want to take pictures of ideas you see at the booths and will want to connect with vendors via social media on the spot so make sure your phone is ready!
9. Know your bridal show style. Some shows are large and energetic, some are smaller and more refined. Neither is better than the other but you should know what you’re looking for. The larger shows obviously offer more variety and most-likely more giveaways and discounts while the smaller shows will have hand-picked vendors and a more intimate vibe. You will also discover shows that are in-between, like the Sedona Bridal Boot Camp and Sedona Bridal Fair. These are regional shows that appeal to brides beyond their locale, making them a growing niche in the bridal show circuit. Some bridal shows will focus on activities such as tours and fashion shows while others will spoil you with food and beverage tastings. One thing is true though, there is something for everyone!
10. Chat it up. Vendors WANT to talk to you so don’t be shy! They want to hear about your plans, answer your questions, and give recommendations based on their experiences. They have been involved in weddings a lot longer than you and you’ll be surprised at how much info you can get from them. The wedding industry pros in Arizona are not only talented, they are genuine. They want to work with you, yes, but they also want you to be happy. Spending time with the vendors is one of the best ways to get the most out of your bridal show experience.
We attend many of the shows in Arizona and enjoy every one of them for their wedding inspiration and fun atmosphere. We hope to see you at one (or more) soon!
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