- Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To Expo or Not to Expo

You're engaged! Congrats! Now what? It's time to start gathering information - pictures, ideas, inspiration boards, recommendations, pricing, etc. You've got a multitude of options to find this info - websites like Martha Stewart's, print magazines and tv shows like Get Married, bridal chat forums like liweddings.com, and perhaps most valuable- face -to-face meetings with wedding professionals. A bridal expo/show is a great way to meet a large number of vendors, some of whom may be new to you, in a very short period of time. They're also a good place to see the latest trends in wedding dresses, accessories, decor and beauty. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your expo experience...

Before you go

  • Look for coupons or discounts for show admission. Check wedding related stores, local papers, online, or vendor websites.

  • Prioritize. Make a list of vendors you still need, and know what your budget is for each of them.

  • Most expos have a website where they list all exhibitors. Print out a copy of the vendor list and do a little pre-screening by visiting their websites or reading their reviews on weddingwire.com. Make note of your 'top ten tables' you really want to make sure you get to.

  • Decide if you want to make purchase decisions at the show - to check off items on your planning list - or if you just want to 'information gather'. Although you may receive same day booking discounts, personally, I feel speaking briefly with someone at a show isn't really a substitute for a private consultation to evaluate their services. It does, however, give you an introduction and opportunity to schedule formal appointments with your favorites.

What to bring

  • Create a new email address at gmail - like yourfirstnameweddingmonthwedding@gmail.com (ex: ReginaOctoberwedding@gmail.com) for all your wedding planning correspondence. It will help you stay organized and find info much easier.

  • Then, create a few sheets of labels with your name, address, phone number, (new wedding) email address and wedding date - to enter drawings. This will save you time at vendor tables while still giving them all the info they may need.

  • Your date book (or Blackberry) to make appointments

  • Your check book or credit card (if you're planning to book services)

  • Comfortable shoes and comfortable dress

  • Your friends! If your fiancĂ© wants to go with you, consider yourself lucky and take him along. However, most likely, better company would be your best friend, a bridesmaid or five, your sisters or soon-to-be sisters in law, or your mother/ mother-in-law

  • A cute tote bag - Bridal vendors usually give out a ton of stuff - brochures, business cards, magazines, and freebies like pens, beauty supplies, etc. Sometimes there's a booth or two that offer bags for you to pile all that stuff in, but be on the safe side (and think green) and bring your own tote

  • A bottle of water and a small snack. Most shows advertise that there will be food and drink. For some that may mean one vegetable platter, and for other shows they may have a full buffet. Don’t take a chance at getting hungry or thirsty and having to cut your expo experience short – bring provisions!

While you're there
  • Be prepared to hear, "When's the big day?" or "Who's the lucky bride?" A LOT. Vendors want to engage you in conversation -don't be afraid to talk to them. Not all vendors are pushy sales people - in fact, more often than not you'll find that you'll walk away with a few new ideas, or that you may meet a professional that you really get along with and may want to hire, or even recommend to a friend. Trust your gut, and if you feel like you're not connecting with a vendor, thank them for their time, and politely excuse yourself from the conversation. There are many many more booths to visit!

  • Have specific questions prepared for each type of vendor. Ask florists what flowers would be in season during the month of your wedding, ask videographers if they shoot in high def, check with transportation companies that their antique vehicles (like that Rolls you're dreaming of) have A/C if your wedding is in the summer, etc.

  • Enter prize drawings. This is where those preprinted labels you brought come in handy. Most shows have really valuable prizes that can help you save money - like free services, honeymoons, or wedding bands. We're giving away *FREE* Day of Coordination to one lucky bride at the Expo tonight - be sure to stop by and enter!

  • Pay attention to the mom and pop shops. Many smaller vendors who don't have a storefront choose to exhibit at expos as a way of promoting their product. Its here that you may get some really great finds like handmade jewelry, hand sewn personalized handkerchiefs, delicious chocolates and sweets, or designer soaps and candles. This is a wonderful way to add custom, creative, original touches to your wedding

Feel ready to take on an Expo or two? Visit wedding wire and wedalert for the latest event listings in your area. HAVE FUN! I mean, really, enjoy your time there and take advantage of any and all fun activities set up - get your hair and makeup done, take your photo in a Photobooth, have a drink of Tequila Rose with your bridesmaids, talk with other brides and share ideas, and consider yourself a savvy shopper!

© 2009 Cloud Nove Events. Want to use this article in your E-zine or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement: Wedding planner Regina Cialone publishes the “Cloud Nove Events” e-zine. Sign up to receive it in your Inbox bi-weekly at www.cloudnoveevents.com

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