If we can all agree that ‘covid couples’ have had a time and a half when it comes to wedding planning, we can also all agree that the excitement of being engaged is just the same as any other time. The thrill of telling your friends and family that you two are moving forward to the next step in your lives is still as memorable if it were to happen in a world that was open for business.
One thing we know that has definitely changed for ‘covid couples’ are the typical wedding events, but with the new year comes new opportunities and the first wedding event couples or wedding parties can attend will likely be a wedding show! That’s right, wedding shows are back, in person, which means you have the opportunity to meet potential vendors to give you an idea of what is out there, and which vendors you connect with! Although the doors are open, we understand that a lot of people may not feel comfortable, or want to spend a long period of time at wedding shows, so here are our top tips on how to get the most out of a wedding show.
#1. Know What You Still Need To Book
This one seems fairly obvious, but we often remind our couples that they need to know what they know, but more importantly, know what they don’t know! Understanding what services or products you are still looking for will streamline your experience and save you from becoming overwhelmed. When vendors in categories you've already booked make eye contact, just say "I've got my ______ already.... but I love what you're doing! Have a great show!".... and keep moving! Go in with a list, take a look at the wedding show website prior so you have an idea of which vendors you know you’d like to speak to, and set yourself up for success!
#2. Have Face To Face Conversations (I know, it can be scary!)
Yes, shockingly, you may need to speak to a real life human. Joking aside, after a year or two of communicating online, the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger feels extremely bizarre and unnatural, but I promise, from a vendor perspective, we’re right there with you! You'll want to feel some kind of a connection with your wedding vendors, and that can only be determined by face to face (or face to zoom, worst case!) contact. Granted, you don't need to be BFFs with your florist or your baker, because you likely won't even see them on your wedding day, but it is CRUCIALLY important that you're comfortable with vendors that you'll have more time with on your wedding day.... like photographers, videographers, officiants, DJs, or planners!! They'll be the ones that you interact most with before and on the wedding day, or who have the most impact on your guest experience. It stands to reason that you'll want to meet with them to determine how comfortable you feel handing the reins to them for certain portions of your wedding day. You'll need to implicitly trust the vendors who you work with most closely, and the only way to do that is to have personal connections. A wedding show is a great way to determine if that vendor is someone you might like to follow up with at a later date for a more in-depth conversation. (Note that wedding shows are usually pretty busy, and most wedding pros will want to schedule a later date to chat with you in a more private and less distracting environment, so expect to take some time to follow up with those vendors that you feel a connection with later).
#3. Take ALL The Freebies/Enter Draws
Would you say no to a free goodie bag at a birthday party?! NO WAY, so take all the free merchandise that comes with the wedding show! It’s fun, it’s quirky, and ultimately, gives you a bigger reason to feel even more special about being a fiancé! In the grand scheme of things, it also helps you remember the businesses that you did speak to, since you’ll have a tangible item to take home after you’ve chatted with and seen hundreds of booths. Sometimes the merch is useful, sometimes the goodie bags even have coupons or discounts on services as well, so it’s okay to feel a little greedy that day… take the bag!
You'll also find that a lot of vendors are offering draws (which, admittedly, are a way of getting your information so they can follow up with you later!). If the draw is legitimately something you're interested in, enter away! We'd recommend that you create an email address SPECIFICALLY for wedding communication, and use it exclusively at the show - this will avoid your personal inbox filling up. You may also want to print label stickers that have your name, wedding date, and contact info so that it's quick and easy to enter, rather than filling out forms in every booth.
#4. Travel Small and Pack Lightly (Friends included!)
Despite every romantic comedy everywhere, you do not need a full entourage to travel with the entire duration of your wedding plans. Bringing a massive group of friends may sound like a fun afternoon, but you’re often balancing the emotions, expectations, and often the hunger of multiple people, rather than just focussing on you. Travel with your trusted friends/wedding party, or have a day with your parents and future in-laws to discuss logistics rather than accommodating the masses. Pack some water and snacks (double check that they're allowed, before having them confiscated at the door!), because they're EXPENSIVE at most expos, and know that the more people you bring, the more likely you are to get separated. If possible, find childcare and leave your kiddos at home, and bring only your BFF/MoH/mom/MIL/fiancé to ensure that you don't get separated, distracted, or have to worry about the opinions of too many people when you're talking to vendors you may want to work with.
#5 Plan to Chat During the Fashion Show/Last Hour of Opening
Many wedding shows incorporate some kind of fashion show, whether it focuses on gowns, tuxes, or wedding party attire. These shows are typically very engaging, and if you're still looking for fashion ideas, by all means, attend the fashion shows!! But, if you happen to already have chosen a gown, or if you have a pretty solid sense of how you'd like the attire of your wedding party to play out, take advantage of the 'slow' time during fashion shows to circulate and really get a chance to talk to the other vendors. Traditionally, the fashion show times are pretty slow where the traffic flow is concerned, so if you saw a vendor earlier that you think you might like to connect with, chances are pretty good that they will be more available to chat during the fashion show.
The same goes for the last hour of the show. This tends to be a slower time, where a lot of vendors aren't swamped with other potential clients. Take advantage of this time for the opportunity to get some focused attention from vendors in the categories you still need to book, and schedule a time for a consult with them in the near future, before you lose the 'wedding show' motivation!
As we look forward to the new year, we can’t wait to meet more couples at the coming shows, and discuss their wedding dreams. We know it’s a long road ahead, and that the new systems and new operations of the shows may be different in the past, but we’re eager to get back and we hope you are too! If you’ve attended wedding shows in the past, expect some differences, but know that the vendors and the entire wedding community are so happy to have you back in attendance, and are so happy to be back doing what we love. If you have any questions about wedding shows, or are interested in purchasing tickets to any local ones, comment below and we’ll connect!