Wedding Fair Survival Guide
It's that time of year again....wedding fair season! Exploring endless stands of wedding suppliers (you name it, it will be there) is on the agenda, at least once, for every bride-to-be. Wedding fairs are certainly an experience and having spent the last few weekends at 'Brides The Show', 'National Wedding Show, London' and preparing to exhibit at 'The Gay Wedding Show' in the next few weeks, (combined with previously working for a bridal shop), it's fair to say I've experienced my fair share of wedding fairs over the years; hence it only seemed fair (haha!) to pass on my top 10 Do's and Don'ts for ultimate wedding fair survival....
1) DO prepare
Before you go to any wedding fair sit down and make a list of what you're hoping to find, do you just want ideas? Do you want to meet potential suppliers? If so, which ones? Are your browsing or booking?
I often come across brides at wedding fairs who admit to feeling a little overwhelmed by the variety of options on offer.
Setting out a clear vision of what you hope to get out of the fair helps you stay on track and avoid too much confusion.
2) DON'T take too many people
It can be tempting to take EVERYONE...your partner, your five bridesmaids, your mum, your sister, your planner (the list goes on). If possible, stick to just you and two others; wedding fairs are often busy and smaller groups are preferable when you turn up at the stands. If you're worried about leaving people out, then alternate (I'm sure you'll visit more than one!), invite different friends/family along to different stages of your planning, I'm sure they'll not only feel included in your day but will also understand.
3) DO wear comfy shoes, layers & take a light handbag!
Wedding fairs tend to involve a lot of walking (even if it is just between stands, we all know how tiring shopping can be!), so don't turn up in your favourite pair of heels, you'll only regret it half an hour in. My biggest piece of advice on the clothing front is to wear layers; fairs are often in Autumn so the weather is obviously getting a little cooler, however, I am yet to attend a wedding fair that is a reasonable temperature! They are, more often than not, very warm, so wear layers that you can strip off to keep you feeling comfortable. Finally, don't take a heavy handbag, you'll pick up several goodie-bags/leaflets along the way, so the less you're weighed down with at the start, the better.
4) DON'T try on a dress for the first time
If you haven't started your wedding dress shopping yet, a wedding fair is not the place to start. Not all shows will let you try on dresses, but for those that do I recommend you steer clear of first time trying. Wedding dress shopping, although one of the most exciting wedding planning elements, can also be one of the most overwhelming. It's not uncommon for brides to be thrown by what does/doesn't suit them, as well as change their mind about what style they want....you don't want this in front of several other brides, whilst feeling rushed and more than a little warm! Instead, use the fair for inspiration, have a look at the designers that appeal to you and arrange appointments with the stores themselves to try on dresses for the first time in what is a much nicer, more relaxed atmosphere and where staff can really spend time with you to help you find the perfect style and/or dress.
5) DO be selective
Don't attempt to visit every single wedding fair within a 100 mile radius, instead, be selective and research the suppliers that will be exhibiting, then choose the shows that are going to showcase vendors which suit both your budget and style.
6) DON'T panic buy
It's very easy to get caught up in wedding fair excitement...before you know it you've purchased your wedding dress, booked your florist and ordered your bridesmaid dresses.
The chances are, everything available at the show will still be available the following week. So take the time to consider your options before committing, away from the wedding fair bubble you make re-think some of the decisions you would have made a few hours earlier. Not only is this more sensible, it gives you time to consult your partner if they didn't attend the fair (we don't want them feeling left out after all!)
7) DON'T forget to take advantage of show offers
It's not uncommon for suppliers to offer discounts (often ranging from 10-50%) at wedding fairs so, to help the wedding budget, make sure you take advantage of these offers. You'll have handfuls of flyers/leaflets/business cards by the end of the day and it's likely that several of these will have a 'quote XXX' or 'X% discount with this flyer' so don't forget to keep the ones you think you'll use further down the line.
8) DO talk to exhibitors
Take the time to talk to exhibitors whilst you're at the show; you could easily visit their stands and not engage in conversation, particularly if they are busy chatting to other couples. I recommend having a brief conversation on what the supplier can offer and how they like to work. It's important that your suppliers are able to share your vision and you'll very quickly get a feel for who you click with and who feels right for your wedding.
9) DON'T expect your man to love it as much as you do
I've lost count of how many times I've seen the groom-to-be being dragged around a wedding fair (well not literally...although he may as well have been). Whilst us girls tend to love all things weddings, and see a wedding fair as a nice couples/friends day out, unfortunately men (in general) don't tend to feel the same. They have a habit of looking a little bored once they've exhausted the free cake samples so if you're going to be disappointed by this then I recommend taking a mum/sister/bridesmaid instead...unless of course you have a particularly enthusiastic fiancée.
10) DO get a glass of champagne and head to the catwalk show
Every good wedding show will have a champagne bar; take a well deserved break and get yourself a glass of champagne (or two) to watch the bridal catwalk....enjoy ladies!