A Bride’s Day Out: How to make the most of wedding fayres!

This time of year every paper you open and each scroll in your Facebook newsfeed is full off them. Some are small, some are large, some are free, some you pay. Yes, it is time to put your walking shoes on ladies, I am taking about wedding fayres!

Today I would like to give you lovely Brides-to-Be some advice on what shows are are out there and tips on how to get the information you need while you attend.

So first, let me tell you I LOVE shows! I have both exhibited and attended 100’s of trade shows, exhibitions and wedding fairs in USA and UK. In the past my career was as a hospitality sales manager, so it was my job to travel around the country attending international trade shows to drum up business for my hotel. Now I do the same for my own business, so it all gives me perspective. I have been to shows with a thousand suppliers- complete with a 30-foot Hawaiian waterfalls and a 20 strong hula dancing troop- to intimate hotel open days with less than 10 suppliers attending. They all have their pro’s and cons so lets break it down, in simple terms there are three types of wedding shows which are:

Large Exhibition:

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Photo courtesy of The National Wedding Shows

These are the biggest show, usually going for 2-3 full days, 10:00am-5:00pm. These sometimes cost you money £10.00- £20.00. Some examples of these in the UK are, The National Wedding Shows, Tatton Park Wedding Show and The Liverpool Wedding Show. These shows will be impressive with large catwalk shows and productions, larger than life displays and lots and lots of suppliers. These shows can be daunting however they do have their…

Benefits:
– Freebies, prizes and excellent offers from suppliers. Because there is so much competition and the suppliers have put a lot of investment into exhibiting they need to WOW and grab your attention. The best way to do this is with competitions, prizes and huge discounts for attendees. Everyone has to win each prize, and it just may be you!

– Time. These shows are long and over a few days so you can take your time speaking with suppliers, discovering your own style and finding inspiration. Because there is so much to see it is a great way to spend the day with your Mum, bridesmaids and even your fiancé (if you can convince him to go!). Watch a catwalk show (or two), watch the demonstrations, have some lunch and enjoy.

– Ideas, ideas, ideas! Packed full of inspiring displays these shows will let you sample all the cake you could ever want to taste, flip photo albums until your eyes cross, see dress styles you would have never thought existed and give you enough entertainment ideas to plan a lifetime of parties! You are sure to find something you like, no doubt about that!

Hotel/ independent wedding shows:

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These shows are usually one full day, 11:00am-3:00pm. They can be hosted by the wedding venue themselves or by an independent wedding show organiser (to find these look in your local newspaper or visit allweddingfayres.co.uk). They usually limit each category to 1-2 suppliers each (so say 2-3 photographers, 1-2 venue dressers, florists, cake suppliers, etc) with anywhere from 20-50 suppliers exhibiting.

Benefits:
– These are more intimate shows that allow you to get more personal with each exhibitor. Usually held in a wedding venue this is a great way to do a venue search if you haven’t booked one already.

– Time. If you are short of it or would rather be doing something else on a Sunday afternoon these are for you. Smaller and more relaxed they will only take you an hour or two to visit.

– Making the rounds. Usually held on a Sunday during the off season (Sept-Nov, Jan-Mar) you will probably find that there are a few fayres going on in your area on the same date. If you are searching for your wedding venue, or have a full afternoon to spare, you could make a day of it and go to 2-3 independent wedding shows in one day.

Open Evenings:

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These are shows hosted by the hotel/ wedding venue themselves usually in the evening say 6:00-9:00pm. These are to showcase the venue as it will look for your wedding, so the tables will be dressed and/or ceremony will be set-up and will only showcase a handful of their preferred suppliers.

Benefits:
– If this is the wedding venue you have chosen (or has made your short list) attending an open evening will show you exactly how it will be set-up for your big day. Also, you can speak one-on-one with the staff to ask detailed questions and see exactly how your evening will flow.

– Hand picked suppliers. Because the venue will only be showcasing their preferred suppliers you know that they come highly recommended, they know how the venue works, and will do a good job delivering their services for your wedding.

OK, so now you know what shows you are going to, let me give you a few tips on how you can make the most of your time once you are there.

1. Be prepared!
-Once you get engaged set up an email address specifically for your wedding planning. Something like: BrideandGroomNovember2015{at}gmail.com this will ensure your personal email isn’t inundated with tons (and there will be tons- but that’s ok, keep reading) of sales and promotion emails.

-You may think I am crazy with this next tip but, once you start working the shows you will understand why I say… get some address labels printed with your; first name, surname, email address, wedding date and wedding location (You don’t have to put the venue just town & county i.e ‘Chester, Cheshire’ is fine). Especially if you go to the big shows, you will giving your details 100’s of times so don’t get writers cramp, just buy some labels!

-Go with a plan of what style you are trying to achieve (if you are not sure take my Style Quiz) Having a plan will ensure you don’t make any costly mistakes and your theme runs throughout your day.

2. Enter the competitions!
No matter what the show you will usually find someone giving away something for free and it could be your lucky day! This is where the stickers come in handy. Winning something like a chocolate fountain or wedding cake could save your £100’s! You can’t win if you don’t enter, so get sticking!

3. Take notes (& pictures if they allow)
Dont rely on your memory alone. There are so many beautiful and inspiring things at wedding shows you couldn’t possibly remember everything you loved and who supplied it. Take a notebook to write down what you like, and what you don’t, and who you met that made an impact on you. If you are allowed to take pictures, do it! Just make sure you get the suppliers name (business card, banner, etc) in the photo so you can follow up with them later.

4. Leave your credit cards at home
I will probably get a few evil looks from my fellow wedding suppliers for this statement, but take my advice, do not hand over any [non-refundable] cash to suppliers while at a wedding fayre. Weddings shows fill you with excitement and adrenaline which could lead to regret later on. If you really like a supplier you meet at a show give them your details so they can follow-up, make notes, take their information home, have a look at their website, social media, photo galleries, online shop, etc. Then, if you are still interested book a meeting, away from the chaos.

5. Keep a close eye on the follow up!
You are not just giving the suppliers you meet at wedding fayres your details for the fun of it. Your goal is to plan the wedding of your dreams! Good suppliers will follow up and keep in touch by sending you quality advice, offers and inspiration via email. Ask questions, watch their style, and take advantage of special offers. Once every few days sit down with a cup of tea and have a scroll through your wedding emails to see what excitement awaits!

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So what wedding fayres are in your diary this season? Do you have a strategy or any tips that helped you get excellent deals? Please share below..

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