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bridal show or not to bridal show-that is the ? | southwestern, pa photographer

By January 26, 2012 One Comment

So he (or she) finally “popped the question”….and you’re.getting.married. <insert erratic jumping up and down> Congratulations…now comes the overwhelming part…the planning!! I say overwhelming because as many of my clients have mentioned, it is VERY overwhelming sitting behind a computer screen looking thru pages and pages of websites trying to pick and choose between who will be a perfect fit for your big day. I get that…..and more than overwhelming it can be scary because let’s face it…it’s easy to create a webpage, throw up a few pretty pictures and begin advertising for clients. There is no test you take to qualify you to start marketing to the wedding industry, you know, like how doctors, lawyers, school teachers all must pass a test in order to go into the field they are passionate about. It’s not like that in most cases when it comes to weddings.

Because over the past few weeks, lots of potential brides have asked me if I’d be at any of the Bridal Shows so I thought I’d throw together a quick blog on some pros and cons about attending bridal shows…..and explain to you why I don’t do them. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think they are fantastic for so many reasons….I just choose not to participate…… Let me explain:

The basic concept of a bridal show is that many of the wedding vendors in a region will get together for an afternoon or a weekend under one roof. This gives you, the bride a chance to meet a lot of different vendors in a short amount of time. Think of it more like an opportunity to see who is out there, gather business cards, and make follow up appointments for a later date. There are a few things to keep in mind during the process.Often times, bridal shows are sponsored by someone, and who that someone is may determine the type of vendors that choose to attend or attract.  For instance, a show sponsored by a country music radio station and held in a convention center will certainly be different than the show sponsored by a vineyard and held on their premises. The Convention Center is more likely to be a broader cross-section of the local wedding professionals, where the one at the vineyard may feature more high-end vendors. Most of the time, the more upscale shows are often by invitation only, so if you are looking for an upscale vendor, you will know that they have already been pre-selected for you. Depending on what you are looking for, this is a good way to determine which bridal show is best suited for you.

Lots of brides go just for fun…….they may already have their vendors picked out but you can only look thru so many wedding magazines and websites before you’re itching to get out and see some things in person. I’m going to save you a WHOLE LOT OF frustration when I say this. If you are going just for fun and unless you have a plan, don’t bring your husband. Instead bring a girl friend, your mother, mother in-law..anyone else but your husband. (ok ok..in most cases) The guys will most likely have something else they’d rather do on a Saturday than walk around and look at wedding fluff. hahahaa! You’re welcome!

Another great thing is, a lot of the vendors in attendance may not have visual store fronts, meaning that maybe they are a small business and they don’t have  a store front downtown where you’d be able to see them walking by. This is a great way to meet vendors you may not have otherwise known about. ESPECIALLY if you are new to the area. This is a great way to get to know what vendors are available.

Don’t get frustrated if there may be some vendors that you DON”T see at the show due to the timing or depending on what time of the year. For instance, some bridal shop owners may not attend because they figure by that time, you would already have picked out your dress so pulling staff out of the store on a Saturday to man the show may not be seen as logical.

Here’s another tip. A lot of times, the sponsor will hold some sort of contest-something along the lines of “if you get this card signed by every vendor you will be entered to win xyz”. Sometimes the prizes are AWESOME!! So in order to qualify you must visit each and every vendor, get a stamp, a signature-or whatever else they require. This usually means you must give them your information….or let’s just say you WANT to give them your information. I suggest before going to the show, set yourself up with an alternative email address that you will be using for the remainder of your wedding planning experience. This way when you are bombarded with emails, you can simply log onto one specific email and not have them junking up your regular inbox. You’ll thank me later…trust me!  I actually use this same tip when I’m going to photography conferences as well.

So you’re asking why I choose not to set up at bridal shows? Here are a few reasons…not that there is a right or wrong reason..they are just *MY* reasons.

I have based my business solely on referrals, meaning the majority of my business comes from work of mouth from my previous clients. I’ve done very little in the world of advertising and I want to keep it that way. I love the types of clients I’m attracting, I want those clients to recommend clients just like them and based on their experience with me. Keep in mind, I’ve lived in this area most of my life so I’m not saying that I would feel differently if I just moved into the area. I would think about my decision a bit differently but that’s not my case.

Just because I don’t set up at the show doesn’t mean I don’t GO to to the show. Often times I will stop in to say hi to other vendors I have worked with in the past or to introduce myself to new vendors. The wedding industry is based on referrals so being able to send a client to someone I trust is important if they are looking for a DJ, Cake, makeup artist, etc.

I don’t feel that I have enough time with those that would be interested in my services. I’m going to use this comparison…I feel like it’s a speed dating experience with vendors and I don’t like it. I’d much rather give someone undivided attention without all the crowds.

Whatever your choice is (to attend or not to attend)….just remember to ask around as well. Ask someone you trust who they used and what their experience was like…..you might just find a gem…at the bridal show or not!

Happy Wedding Planning!!!

….and because every post is better with an image, here is one (that has absolutely nothing to do with weddings)-our most recently THREE 52 Project picture brought to you by my favorite app, Instagram. We went sled riding on this particular day. Want to know more about the THREE 52 project, click here.

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One Comment

  • Nicole Pope says:

    Great tips Jen! One other thing to mention, these things are OVERWHELMING! Even for the vendors. If you are going to find yourself a DJ, Bakery, etc., my advise is to gather everything, throw it in the bag and sort through all of it the next day. It will be a sensory overload and you do not want to make a decision just because you are tired and ready to “just choose one already.” Oh and pre-print labels with your name, address, email, so that if you want to enter those contests, you can save yourself and your hand a little work. Just slap the label on and go!

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