THE BLOG

Bride Survival 101: The Bridal Expo

10/11/2013 04:08 pm ET | Updated Dec 11, 2013

So, you're engaged! Now what? Chances are you, your mom, your girlfriends, and your groom (poor guy) are probably starting to research which wedding shows or bridal expos to attend. As a wedding planner, I know that this is a normal and sometimes fun part of the wedding planning process, and of course, our firm generally participates in a few of these shows annually. During a show we were recently exhibiting in, I took note of the things brides were doing at the show, and I decided to write a few tips to make your next journey through a bridal expo a successful one.

1. Avery is your friend.

Seriously. A bridal expo can have anywhere from 100 to 600 booths, all vying for your contact information and wedding details. Now, granted, you probably don't fancy the thought of giving your information out to that many people, but for the purposes of demonstration let's say that you find 50 vendors you'd be interested in talking to more. Can you imagine filling out 50 identical forms? Me either, so the solution is that you put your contact information, your wedding date, and if you're an overachiever, your wedding budget, on a mailing label. Print out a few pages of those suckers and you're good to go!

2. Communication is golden.

Remember the 600 vendors we talked about in the last point? And, for the demonstration, we said you'd talk to 50 of them. Now, do you really want those 50 vendors to contact you? When you give out your contact information at a bridal expo, that is you giving the vendor permission to contact you, because you are showing genuine interest in learning more about their products or services. So, if they contact you, respond to their messages, or, if you decided you weren't interested, let them know. The professionals aren't going to hound you about it, but we're also human so we appreciate common courtesy. And, trust me, it'll make you more selective on who you give information to.

3. Bring your A-Team to the show, leave the subs at home.

If the wedding show is held in a stadium or convention center, you can only assume that it will be jam-packed with exciting and flashy booths, but you can also expect that it will be crammed with brides-to-be and their families. So, the fewer people you bring with you, the more enjoyable and spacious this experience will be. Also, if you and your mom love a photographer, but Aunt Betty doesn't think he's right for you, she's going to tell you for the duration of the show, and she'll also let every other photographer you meet that day know. This will be uncomfortable (and annoying!) which is the opposite of what it's supposed to be.

4. Do you have a shopping cart? This isn't Costco.

We wedding vendors stock up on promotional giveaways like pens, candy bars, can coolers, and all sorts of things because we think it's the secret weapon to get you come talk to us, and you're going to go home and use one of these gadgets and somehow strike up a conversation with a complete stranger about where you got that ridiculously cool keychain. The truth is, you probably will never use the item once you leave the show, and it will end up in a cardboard box deep in the heart of your garage. So, don't worry about stopping by a booth and grabbing 15 magnets from one single vendor, because you don't need them as much as you think you do. Now, if that's partnered with a request for a consultation later in the week, then by all means, take as many mint tins as your purse can carry.

5. Map out your trip.

If you've been at this a while, then you probably don't need to find every vendor necessary to complete your wedding day. So, make a list of the three different types of vendors you need to see at the show, and only stop at those types of booths. Also, if you're just engaged, then you probably need a venue, caterer, and a wedding planner. So, those are the three you need to look at first before you start looking at wedding cakes or shoes. Staying to a strict vendor-type list will make the show more enjoyable for you, and also less overwhelming. Trust me.

Those are just five tips to make your next bridal expo a fun experience for you and everyone you drag with you. There's at least 18 other tips out there, but its more important that you have a fun time than bogging you down with a list of do's and don'ts. You are a unique bride, these tips will ensure that you get everything you want for your wedding, and the ability to cut out everything you don't.