We’re deep into wedding planning season in East Tennessee! So may engagements, couples brimming with excitement, and the annual bridal shows are being held in our region. As much as we love exhibiting and meeting new couples, we also know this can also be a time of great stress to many newly engaged couples.
Let’s face it, you walk into an exhibit hall and you’re faced with anywhere from 30 to 70 vendors..where do you even start? As you begin to meander through the aisles, you’ll be faced with two things, an overwhelming feeling of sheer joy at the ideas you’re being presented, quickly followed by a pang of panic. But don’t worry..that’s completely normal!
First things first, we’re going to give you a few pointers to get you through the show..scratch that. We’re going to start you on the right path BEFORE the show.
- Create a wedding email address. You’re going to want this, because once the vendors get your email address you will certainly get a variety of follow up emails and incentives to book. If you’re using your personal/work email when you register, just know you’re going to be getting a lot of correspondence after the show. Be prepared to keep it separate in order to keep your sanity!
- Make a list of items you NEED. Yes we all get the “SQUIRREL” moments and go running when we see something we think we WANT. But stay on track! If you hit your must haves first, it will set your mind at ease. Nothing worse than leaving the show and realizing you didn’t hit all your “needs” and now you have to dig even more.
- Understand this is business. Not just for the vendor, but again for you. SO with that in mind, think about how valuable your time is in comparison to the length of the bridal show. This is your chance at one-stop shopping! So while you might think a particular caterer might have a cool menu or setup, is it worth standing in line for a sample for 20 mins if you’ve already booked your caterer? Also, from their perspective, they are there to engage with potential clients. So keep on course and you won’t miss an opportunity to reserve a service you really need on your wedding date. Once you knock out your list, then swing back by for one of those tempting sammies!
- Day-of Show deals. Now I’m not telling you to be leery, because we offer them too. I should say, we offer a package specific to the attendees of the show. If you call us later in the week or the month, we’ll honor the show deal. But I’m not crazy about the “TODAY ONLY” aspect. Feels kinda like “Crazy Eddie’s SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY Sale”. And keeping all things relative, if you have a cake decorator in mind, and she’s offering $100 that day and you’re able to see the creations and sample it, then feel like it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten, then for pete’s sake…..BOOK IT! This is especially true if they’re under your budget.
- Reminds me..please make a budget. How can you possibly begin to make deals if you don’t know how much to spend? And keep it personalized. Don’t care as much about centerpieces as you do drinks? Then adjust that budget accordingly. Have at least a total budget figure in mind will certainly help you as you are picking up pricing from vendors.
- Travel and setup costs do apply. If you’re traveling from outside the show’s region, understand that the rates you are getting quoted at the show may not be the final cost. Most of the time vendors think in context to their marketing region, but if you’re traveling from say 2 hours away, it will definitely cost you more to book that vendor. So if you’re in love with a DJ that is located a couple of hours away, definitely ask them about their travel rates.
- Bring a bag. This is the biggest issue that I see at wedding shows. Couples walk in and the bride has a purse, but NOTHING to put all of the marketing materials in. So it becomes a thing to carry your things. Think of a bridal show as trick-or-treating for couples. You open the bag and you’re going to get a bag full of goodies from area event vendors.
- The bigger the show, the more brides will be there. I kid you not, we saw at least 350 brides at the 2015 winter Pink Bride show. We literally spoke with them, engaged with them and know their wedding dates..many the same as yours. I’ve said it time and time again, it’s a competition. Even if there are 20 outdoor venues in the area, and there are 350 couples looking for weddings in the summer of 2017..do the math. The chance that your “dream” venue might get snatched up that day are much greater than not. So get familiar with the offerings at the show and BOOK tours, that’s the goal, go see them for yourself and get your date locked in!
- Look for referrals from other vendors. There’s nothing better than a team of vendors that are comfortable with each other. In our planning booth, if someone asks us about cakes/florals/catering, we’ll even take the time to locate those vendors before the show..and have at times walked couples over to them. We have great contacts and find that if we’re working with reputable vendors and services, the better your wedding is going to be!
- Here’s the part where I put my Planner hat on. Don’t stress and enjoy the process! It’s a whole lot to process, we understand! But keep your eye on the prize folks, it’s a journey to get to the beginning of the rest of your lives together as a married couple. If you keep it all in check, and look at this adventure like it’s the best shopping trip of your life, then it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience!
We are excited to be at the Pink Bride Show this weekend on February 7th at the Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport, Tennessee. Look for us, we’d love to talk with you about your wedding needs. Whether it’s planning, wedding/reception venue, catering, bar services and even decor..we’re here to serve! And don’t worry, if you turn that bag out onto your living room floor after the show and have a mound of cards..crack open a bottle of wine and celebrate the beginning of this amazing journey!
Then call us on Monday, because by now our feet will be killing us and we’re waiting to see if Peyton is going to get a second Super Bowl ring. Happy wedding show folks..can’t wait to see you!
This article was written by Brandi Woodall
As Principle of The Positive Approach Group, Mrs. Woodall directs all business operationsand is the lead contact and designer for all major events contracted by the firm. During her career, she has produced special events and implemented strategic marketing strategies for national corporations, non-profit organizations, and top-level social clients.