Being in the wedding industry for many years, I’ve thought long and hard about picking and choosing the ways I like to promote my business. After the first year I decided it might be a good idea to be a vendor at a bridal show. I was super excited because I thought it would give me an opportunity to talk with potential brides and grooms about their special day in a comfortable environment. I remember that 1st experience so vividly because I thought “this is just the perfect idea” but when I got home from the show that evening I was thoroughly exhausted from the craziness of it all and vowed to myself that I would never sign up for another bridal show ever again. It was probably 15 years later I decided to try it one more time and surprisingly so it was a much different and more positive experience for me. So let me share with you my thoughts on both the positive and negative.
There are ultimately two different types of wedding shows that you will attend. The first and most popular one usually has the word EXPO in the title of the event. This type of bridal show has what would seem like several hundred wedding vendors showcasing their services in either a huge ballroom at a well known hotel or at a convention center.
In my opinion it is one of the most overwhelming experiences for both the couples and the vendors. Brides and grooms are quickly moving from table to table trying to figure out what kind of service is being provided at any given moment while they are carving out a technique to avoid talking to the vendor until they are really sure this is a service they will need. The reason these potential couples are so guarded is that every single vendor at one of these showcases is desperately trying to talk to as many couples as they can. It is a frenzy of competition and so unproductive. You will go home from one of these expos feeling like planning a wedding is the hardest thing you will ever do.
The "Boutique Bridal Show'
The second type of bridal show is what I would like to refer to as a “boutique bridal show”. Now this is an event that has some substance. It’s usually hosted by the venue and not a bridal show company. The venue will invite about 15 to 20 vendors to the show and maybe 250 brides and grooms. The reason this kind of showcase works for both potential clients and vendors is that there is plenty of time for each couple to roam the venue and talk with vendors without feeling rushed or more importantly aggressively approached. You will find yourself having a thorough “one on one” conversation with the vendors and leave the show with some really great information that will ultimately help you with your final decisions.
Unfortunately there aren’t as many boutique bridal shows as the big expos but do your due diligence. If you are interested in a particular venue, ask them if they have a bridal show during the year. If you do end up going to a bridal expo, have a plan in place. Decide what three services are most important to you at the time of the event and just focus on going to meet with these types of vendors. It will be less stressful and much more productive. Have fun planning!
By Lisa Capitanelli Kasberg