Shows, Showcases, Wedding Fairs, there are a half-dozen different names for
them. Perhaps you've heard a story or two about the aching feet,
the big crowds, or the heavy bags full of literature. This article is
written to help you get the most out of your show experience.
There are basically two kinds of bridal shows
The first is the small, intimate show with a limited
number of vendors, as well as a smaller group of attendees. The
average attendance is between 75 - 200 people, and there are generally
around 20-30 different vendors. These shows allow you much more time
to talk with the individual vendors, asking questions and getting more
The smaller crowds can also be welcome, and at the end of
the show you can generally come away from the show without feeling like
you've been through a war zone. It's also generally easier to speak
with the various vendors in more detail at the show, without a hoard of
people pressing behind you for information.
The drawback with these smaller shows are that the vendor
selection can be quite limited, (sometimes as few as one vendor per
service), so you might have to attend three of four different shows in order
to properly compare the advantages and disadvantages of one vendor over
another. While the vendors like this arrangement (since there's less
competition), it can present some challenges to the couple looking to do
some comparison shopping.
second kind of show is much larger, averaging close to 1000 or more
attendees, and featuring anywhere from 200-300 different vendors. The
biggest advantage to this kind of show are the wide range of vendors that
are available. It is basically like going to a mall to shop for your
wedding services...everything is under one roof. This allows you
to comparison shop much easier. You can actually view many
photographer's portfolios, or listen to two or three different bands.
Of course you pay a price for this size and variety.
The crowds are generally large and some venues can get pretty crowded.
Also, it might prove more difficult to talk with a vendor for an extended
period without someone else coming up and asking for information.
So which type of show is right for you? Well, that's
really your call. However, we can give you some tips and
suggestions for making the most out of your show experience. Are you
ready? Here we go...
Bridal Show Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes. The odds are you'll be on
your feet for quite a while, and uncomfortable shoes will tire you out
too quickly. You might force yourself to visit the last few booths, but
it won't be any fun.
- Come prepared with peel off labels with your name,
address, phone number, e-mail address, and wedding date printed on
them. You can make them yourself using Avery labels (I recommend Avery
5160...30 per page) or something similar, and any word processor. You
will be writing your name and address a lot otherwise, entering the
various giveaways and promotions.
- Want to save some money on the admission fee to the
show? Check out the vendor list for the show you're attending.
Most vendors receive a number of comp tickets to give away to people
interested in their services. Contact a vendor you might be interested
in and ask if they have a couple of comps so you can come check them
- If you really hate receiving "junk mail", but want to
get as much information as you can and participate in the drawings and
giveaways, rent a PO box for a while. Then all the wedding related
material will come to the PO box, and when you're done with it after the
wedding (and before your name is sold to a thousand OTHER mailing
lists), you simply cancel the PO box and voila!...no more junk mail.
- Along the same lines, register in advance for a free
e-mail address from one of the many free services like Hotmail and
Yahoo, or create a new screen name in AOL. When filling out contest
entry forms and inquiry sheets use this address, so that when the
wedding is over you can simply cancel the account and avoid any further
wedding related e-mail. Reserve your main e-mail address for vendors
you actually contract with.
- Sign up for all the giveaways. Some vendors give
discounts for their services, but more have been giving prizes such as
toasting glasses and cash. Just because you already have a limo doesn't
mean you can't use what they have chosen to give as a door prize.
(This tip was suggested to us by Kim
in New Hampshire...thanks Kim!!!)
- Be wary of giving out your phone numbers when you
initially register at the bridal show. This is especially true of your
If you don't like receiving calls at home or work from wedding related
vendors, you should probably avoid giving out this personal information.
These numbers sometimes go onto mailing lists which are sold or
otherwise circulated. (For the record,
ORACLE does NOT sell or otherwise distribute any names or
addresses to anyone). By providing your number you are giving
permission for vendors at the show to contact you by phone, even if you
are on the national Do Not Call list.
That said, we recently received an e-mail from a newlywed bride who
pointed out that by providing her phone number at the Patriot Center
Bridal Show she received a free makeover and a weekend vacation. If she
had not provided her number she would quite probably not have been
contacted for these valuable prizes.
(Thanks Laura for making this
observation, and for letting us know the positive side of providing your
It should also be noted that all of the shows produced by Showcase
Productions (which includes the Baltimore Bridal Showcase and Washington
Bridal Showcase), release their attendee information to only those
exhibiting at the show.
Providing phone numbers to individual vendors when entering their door
prize giveaways is usually fairly safe, since these vendors seldom use
their contact information for anything other than legitimate follow up.
For this reason we DO advise putting your home phone as well as your
e-mail address on the labels we recommended back in tip #2.
- Bring a friend or two along. (Yes, it can be your
fiancÚ. You're going to need some help in carrying literature around,
as well as someone to offer an objective third party opinion on things.)
- Make sure all members of your entourage have cell
phones with them in case you get split up. Make sure their cell numbers
are in your cell phone's phonebook!
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Bring swatches of material or ribbons with your
wedding colors on them. This will help bakers, balloonists, and
florists make appropriate suggestions as to what they can do for you
- Don't expect to walk away from the show with signed
contracts in your hand. A show is a place where you make
appointments to discuss your wedding in depth. While
there are times when you might want to book something right at the show,
(such as a limited availability and your date is still open), if at all
possible you should wait for a calmer time when you can talk one on one
with the vendor and make sure that he/she/they will be able to fully
meet your needs.
- If you already have a gown, you might want to skip
the fashion show and visit vendor's booths during that period. These
vendors will be eager to talk with you since most everybody will be
watching the fashion show. At the larger shows the crowds at the booths
are greatly diminished during the fashion shows, and it can be much
easier to move around. At smaller shows the vendors will REALLY pull
out the stops for you, since they probably have absolutely nothing to
do. Take advantage of this!
- Bring some bottled water or thermos with you to the
show. In some cases there are no concession stands where you can get
something to drink, and at other shows the cost is rather prohibitive.
Of course Oracle always has refreshments available at their booth...all
you have to do is ask. It's one of the hidden perks of visiting
- Beware of vendors who will only offer show discounts
on the day of the show only. If you don't have the opportunity to talk
with them in depth, how do you know they are right for you? Vendors
really should offer you their "show price" for at least 24 or 48 hours.
- Wear comfortable shoes...please!
- When filling out forms make sure to print VERY
clearly. You'd hate to miss out on a door prize or lose track of
someone you like because they couldn't read your handwriting!
- Avoid bringing small children to the show. While it
may be tempting to bring your flower girl along to see all the neat
wedding stuff, they are sure to tire quickly and detract from your
mission of finding vendors and ideas for your wedding.
- Take as much literature as you can from everyone.
You might not think you need information on a string quartet or a
consultant, but who knows, things have a way of surprising you. When
you get home, put the literature from services you don't think you need
in a box that you can come back to if the situation warrants.
- Bring your date book with you so you can schedule
your appointments for follow up.
- Ask lots of questions. The show is filled with
wedding professionals, and while you're there you should take advantage
of the opportunity to learn as much as you can. These vendors want to
impress you with their knowledge of their particular specialty...take
advantage of it!!!
- Don't wait for the end of the show to pick up the
free bridal magazines. There are usually many more attendees than there
are magazines, so don't get left out!
- Prepare for information overload. When you find a
vendor you would like to follow up with, take a pen and write what
struck you as appealing about them on their business card or
literature. When you get home and are faced with brochures from 14
different photographers, your note may be the only thing you have to
remember which ones you liked and why. Also, write down any good tips
they might give you on THEIR literature to help you remember who was
knowledgeable and helpful.
- Wear comfortable shoes - (Do you notice a theme going
Well, we certainly hope these tips have come in handy
for you. If you have a tip that you feel would help others better
enjoy their experience and maximize their benefit, please feel free to
drop us an e-mail to
and let us know what it is. We'll
be more than happy to share it with everyone!