Congratulations on your engagement! Now that you have a ring on it, and may have allowed your mind to start to wander to the possibilities of what your wedding day could look like, you might be tempted by a local wedding expo or two!
Wedding and bridal expos are the perfect way for couples to get a taste-test of what is available to them and the suppliers that they can tap into locally.
While some expos are major annual events that take in a whole region or city, others are more localised, or even focused on a single venue and the suppliers they engage with.
No matter which kind of expo floats your boat, you should make an effort to attend at least one – if for no other reason than to say you’ve had the experience. Who knows? You may come away from it having found your ideal venue or photographer!
There is no doubt that there is potential for information overload on expo day, so here are some tips for surviving a wedding expo…
Choose your team wisely
Wedding expos don’t happen every day, so when they do, they attract newly-engaged couples, halfway-through-planning couples, and couples who are just missing one or two suppliers.
When you consider that’s pretty much anyone who is engaged and yet to walk down the aisle, you can expect large numbers of people at an expo.
A small, but efficient team is what you need to assemble to accompany you to the expo. It could be as simple as you and your partner going together, but if your partner breaks into cold sweats at the thought of braving an expo, it’s best to look elsewhere for a companion for the day. You want to take people whose opinions you value, and who can also offer you good advice to help you wade through the huge amounts of information that awaits you.
Multiple wedding experts recommend creating stickers with your name, email address, contact number, and wedding date (if you have chosen one) on them before you head off to the expo. Print a few sheets of them! Why? Because almost every supplier will ask for your details so they can send you more information, and you really don’t want to spend a few hours writing the same details over and over again.
Some suppliers will also have special competitions with one-off expo prizes that you can enter. With a sticker, you can just grab a form, slap a sticker on and bam! You are in the draw.
With so many suppliers asking for your email address, you just know you are going to be bombarded with emails once the expo is over. So, instead of sending it all to your everyday account, create a special wedding only email address that you can give to suppliers.
This means you will have everything you need in one place for your wedding research and communications!
As with any big event, parking will be at a premium. If you are taking a team of two or three people with you, load up into one car and you won’t all be struggling to find a parking space at the expo.
Better still, you will all arrive at the same time and can dive right on in.
Take a bag
Chances are, almost every supplier at the expo will have something for you to take with you. From business cards and brochures to cool key chains and mint tins, they are all marketing tools designed to help you remember who they are later on.
While some expos will arm you with a goodie bag at the door, which will become handy for stowing the things you collect inside, others won’t. So be prepared! Stow a canvas bag inside your handbag so you can easily whip it out if you need it.
Get sustenance beforehand
Make sure you take a water bottle and at least have a snack before venturing into the expo. It can be tiring work and not all expos have nibbles or food stalls available.
Make a plan of attack
Once you are armed with an expo map and order of events, take some time to map out the journey you want to take.
What budget have you set for your wedding cake?
Thank you for your vote
If you have already been planning your wedding for some time and only need to see one or two types of vendors, find them on the map and make a beeline straight for them.
Once they are knocked off your list, you can enjoy as much or as little time at the expo afterwards as you like.
If you are newly engaged, you might like to look for all of the major suppliers, so plan a route that will allow you to take everything in and not miss anything important. Remember, the three essentials to start with when planning a wedding are the venue, celebrant, and wedding planner.
This is often the most relaxing part of an expo and is a great way to get inspiration if you haven’t yet found the gown or accessories of your dreams, so it is well worth timing your expo visit to fit the show in as well.
If you have no interest in a fashion show, consider timing your visit with the show anyway – it’s a great opportunity to speak with suppliers and get around a little more easily while the majority of the people are engaged with the show!
You will meet so many new faces, hear so many new names, and learn about so many new businesses and what they can offer you for your wedding. It will literally be impossible to remember everything when you are trying to process it all at home.
Take a notepad and jot down notes as you finish up with each supplier to help jog your memory. Or, alternatively, you can just make a mark on the back of their business card if you want to look into them further or call them further into your wedding planning.
If you are talking to a supplier and they drop a figure that you know it well and truly outside of your budget, just tell them. There is so much to do at an expo that there is no need to be wasting either your time or the suppliers if you know what they charge is double what you can afford.
Also, if you are literally at the expo to scope everyone out and not to begin serious bookings, let them know that too. This way the supplier can give you a basic rundown of what they offer and you can open up the lines of communication for later on if you have a rapport with them.
Be prepared that there may be some pushy suppliers who want to sign you up immediately and may contact you several times after the expo. If you are not interested, simply let them know and don’t feel compelled to hand your details over if you don’t feel comfortable.
Vibe is important
How you connect with your suppliers will play a vital role in who you ultimately choose to help you bring your wedding to life. Pay attention to how well you connect with each supplier to speak to at the expo, and use the opportunity to ask any questions you might have while you are face-to-face.
Jot down the vibe you get on your notepad to help you remember your initial feelings about them.
Yes, wedding expos can be overwhelming, but they are also a great way for you to have fun and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of what you can create for your wedding.
If you do find yourself getting a bit snowed under, grab your team and take five. Sit and have a drink and talk through what you’ve seen so far. Then when you are ready, get back into it.