Brides and grooms (and besties of course!), wedding planning season is in full swing! It is such an exciting time for so many beautiful couples dreaming up visions for their perfect day. Whether you are planning an intimate gathering or a grand fête, there are a variety of wedding shows and bridal open houses happening in the upcoming weeks that you will not want to to miss. To help you along as you go about your wedding planning adventures, the lovely Christine (from Christine W Photography) is here to give you some super useful and fun tips to help you navigate the world of wedding shows and to ensure that you get the most out of them. Ready? It’s going to be so fun!
He asked, you said yes and now you are sporting a sparkly new accessory as you head into a new season. Yup, you guessed it! Wedding show season!! The time of year where venues, vendors and very excited brides gather together in big exhibition halls for fashion shows, give-aways, cake tastings and seasonal specials ahead of the new year of weddings. It’s SO much fun. But as a newly engaged bride, all of this wedding stuff can sometimes have you feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Once you’ve taken a few first steps as an engaged couple, paged through your latest wedding magazine subscription and got your boards done on Pinterest, you might be ready to take the next planning step: attending the obligatory wedding show. Yup, it’s almost a given that you’ll find yourself booking a ticket to your nearest show. Here’s a guide to not only surviving wedding shows, but getting the most enjoyment out of them too!
BEFORE THE WEDDING SHOW
Get prepared: Sign up for a wedding-specific email address on gmail/hotmail. “yaywearegettingmarried at gmail dot com” etc. Not only does this keep you a little more focused on a Monday morning when you open your work mail, but it keeps everything together in one spot. Within your new account, form different folders to file all correspondence in the right place. Make a separate folder for your different suppliers to keep contracts and correspondence all together and make another folder to keep track of all RSVPs/meals/accommodation you need to keep track of. Use it in any way that makes sense to you and your planning. But especially when it comes to wedding shows, this little pre-plan makes things WAY more simple to deal with.
Have a plan: Most wedding shows will have a list of exhibitors on their websites so check it out ahead of time and make a note of the ones you specifically want to check out. It’s a good idea to print the floor plan if it’s available or simply work your way up and down the show layout to make sure not to miss anyone. Don’t feel obligated to stop at every stand though. Try to plan a wish list/what you need list ahead of time to maximize on your time.
Invite your VIPs: Look, I’m not saying your hubby-to-be shouldn’t get the invite to this weekend’s wedding show, but he will probably be pretty happy for you to head off on a girl’s day while he catches up on sport/computer games/his buddies. If you do end up going with your Mr, be prepared for a shorter visit for sure. I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time to avoid any lines and heading out with your mom/moh/bestie to make a day of it.
WEDDING SHOW DAY
Get ready for gifts: Apart from little giveaways at most booths, be prepared for lots of offers, wedding show specials and draws to enter. I’ve seen a couple of other wedding show guides suggest coming prepared with printed address/info labels to slap onto the entry forms which I think is a great time saving idea. So go ahead and add that new email address you’ve created, your groom’s name, your wedding date, venue, theme and even your wedding budget if you are happy to share that. But also be selective. Most of these entries are a way of gathering your information for follow up emails/promotions/sales so enjoy the goodie giveaways but be warned, be selective and be firm about what you are happy receiving from them post show.
Bring bags: The shows will generally give you a tote on entry, but trust me. Each stand will be giving out flyers / guides / favors and you’ll want to come prepared with a few extra bags (& hands!). Depending on what you are looking to get out of the show, bring along anything from an extra tote, to a comfy sling to a full-blown bag on wheels. Your shoulders will thank you.
Hydrate: Along with your extra bags, start off with grabbing a coffee or water before beginning your adventure around the show. They can be busy, noisy and a tad overwhelming so make sure you give yourself enough time to get around depending on the size of the one you visit. Also, dress for comfort. You’ll be doing lots of walking, talking and standing so make sure you are comfortable and cool. The venues can often get very warm with the amount of action and attendees buzzing around. Check your coats if you can!
Get social & snap: One way I love to handle a wedding show (both as a bride and a vendor) is to be signed in and ready on Instagram. If I connect with an exhibitor, I like to look them up on Instagram and follow them while I’m standing in their booth. If I want to really remember and follow up with them post-show, I’ll ask to snap a quick pic on my phone so I can have a record of my favorites. If Instagram isn’t your thing, you can go armed with a notebook and pen, as well as some paperclips. Attaching business cards of any exhibitors to pages where you can make note of their social media platforms/emails/anything of note is also a great way to make your wedding show follow up process a little easier.
POST WEDDING SHOW
Keep the keepsakes (for a while): I won’t lie. You’ll be headed home with a LOT of marketing material. It’s just the way the shows work. Set aside a little time when you first get home to go through the keepsakes. Toss anything you have already booked/gone firm on/don’t need for your day. But I like to suggest you hold on to anything you may be interested in/change your mind on/help a friend with down the line. I have a gift box I add all my wedding show material to for future collaborations but you could file it away/leave it in the totes for a while. Just in case.
Get chatting: You’ll often be able to tell a lot about a specific business from their exhibition stand. Most of us put a lot of time and effort into creating a stand that represents our brand. But there is often a lot more behind the brand if you get chatting. Most shows will have the time and space to stop and chat to the person exhibiting. It’s a good idea to arrive at the show with a knowledge of your wedding date, budget and general look and feel, while staying open-minded. I also like to suggest going with a couple of pre-planned questions for specific vendors you are still on the look out for. Do they charge for travel? Are they available on your date? What are they offering at the show? Getting to know the person behind the brand with also help you select who you want to follow up with when you get back from the show.
Post-show, you can expect a lot of thank you/follow up emails from the exhibiting vendors. If you don’t get a chance to chat too much at the show, don’t be afraid of using this opportunity to get chatting, ask any questions you still have and book a consultation with any vendors you are interested in connecting further with. Communication is key and we love hearing back from brides we have met in person at the shows.
Have fun: This all sounds super serious doesn’t it? Well it totally doesn’t have to be. You can rock up at the wedding show, with your bestie in one hand and your coffee in the other and just wonder around, soaking up all the wedding goodness that is this time of your life. ‘Do You’ is always my motto for my brides. Do what you want, how you want and where you want when it comes to all things wedding planning. If a bridal show isn’t your thing, that’s totally ok too. Have fun being engaged. The planning will happen, one way or another, so soak it up lovely, and enjoy this special time. xx
Thanks SO much to Christine for putting together such awesome tips!
You guys, be sure to follow Christine on Instagram to get a little peek into her beautiful wedding photography. Follow her here too for regular updates, and if you are still looking for the perfect wedding professional to capture your day, check out the rest of Christine’s work here. Oh, and by the way, this super talented charmer will travel anywhere in the world to capture your magic! Pretty cool, right?
As a special bonus for today’s post. I have put together a list of unique wedding shows and bridal open houses that are coming up in the Toronto/GTA area. Most wedding shows will offer early-bird pricing, so get your tickets asap to take advantage of some savings and if you are attending a bridal open house, be sure to RSVP and confirm dates and times with the venues. Have a BEAUTIFUL weekend and see you Monday!! xo
The Middle Eastern Bridal Show – Saturday, February 20, 2016
The Wedding Co. – Sunday, February 21, 2016
The First Look ~ Niagara Wedding Show – Sunday, April 10, 2016
The Ultimate Bridal Show – Saturday, April 2, 2016
Toronto’s Bridal Show – Friday-Sunday, April 8-10, 2016
Rebash – Sunday, May 15, 2016 (early bird pricing until February 29, 2016)
BRIDAL OPEN HOUSES
Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto – Saturday, February 6, 2015 (RSVP by Friday, February 5, 2016)
Old Mill, Toronto – Tuesday, February 23, 2016 (RSVP required)
Renaissance by the Creek, Mississauga – Sunday, February 7, 2016 (Registration required)
Mississauga Convention Centre – Sunday, February 21, 2016 (Registration required)