As a wedding vendor, I am not a huge fan of bridal shows.
Here is what they are to me:
A bunch of just-engaged brides who are super excited about planning their wedding, who have no idea what their budget is yet or what they are looking for and just want to have some fun with the ladies who have just said "yes" to being a bridesmaid!
And from the point of view of the bride:
An event that is meant to be fun, to get some great ideas and meet some fantastic vendors. It is a great event for some freebies and yummy food too! It is also an event that is extremely overwhelming, as hundreds and hundreds of vendors are asking you your wedding date, what your budget is, what style of wedding you are having, details, details, and more details, to the point where you can't even keep a vendor straight and just want to toss all of those business cards in the trash and begin researching from scratch online!
As you can see, I don't like bridal shows. Yes, many vendors book some great weddings. And many brides instantly connect with vendors that they MUST hire. But more often than not, they are a place for an overwhelmed bride, to become even more overwhelmed about all of the details she has not figured out yet (and all of the vendors she just spoke to who made her feel as though she should have these details figured out by now).
I know that bridal shows are not going to stop and you are still going to want to attend no matter how much I tell you not to, so here are some tips on the do's and don'ts of attending a bridal show:
1. Save the business cards for later!
Once you get home, put the bag of goodies away and enjoy your engagement! Don't take those business cards back out until you have a budget set and are ready to really get down to the grind!
2. Those annoying emails are a plus!
You are going to get bombarded with emails from wedding vendors, eager for your business. And instead of getting annoyed with these emails, look at the positive! Those vendors who spoke with you, got your email address, and took the time to email you (whether it is a mass email or not), are the vendors you want to look for! They are the ones who you can count on to be organized and the ones who you know will typically be the most responsive during planning.
And while it is even more annoying when one of these vendors follows up after you not responding to the first email, that is an even bigger sign that that vendor is on top of things!
3. Be Honest
If a vendor is far out of your budget and you know it, tell them! Then they won't waste your time and you won't waste theirs! If you tell a vendor you love them and want to book, knowing very well that their cost is double your photography budget, you aren't doing anyone any good!
And if you aren't planning on getting married for two years, or aren't wanting to begin planning for a couple of months, let those vendors know so you are both on the same page!
Just be open and honest, and everyone benefits!
4. Learn the Vibe
Personality is HUGE when it comes to booking wedding vendors. So while the price and package may be a great fit, bridal shows are a great place to see if your personality meshes well with potential vendors!
You may not have another chance to meet in person to make sure you take note of the vendors you really vibe well with and those that didn't seem to mesh well with you and your fiance.
5. Have fun!
This is supposed to be a fun day and isn't meant to stress you out. So if you know that attending will just overwhelm you, plan a spa day with your bridesmaids or a date day with your fiance instead. That's what the internet is for ;)