The season for wedding planning is upon us! Usually in January and February, there are a few Bridal Shows in our area. I really look forward to this every year, as I get the opportunity to meet with new brides and say hello to fellow vendors that I haven't seen in a while. This weekend, I'll be at the Pensacola Beautiful Beginnings Bridal Show put on by the Bridal Loft, and this will be my seventh time being there! It is crazy to think that this journey began so many years ago. I have prepped everything and set up my display of suites upon suites here at home beforehand to make sure it all fits right, and if you'll be in attendance, I can not wait for you to see the wedding invitation collections I'll have for you to see in person! If you're not local? Something tells me I may be on Instagram posting a few stories before the day begins during setup....so you may want to follow me there for behind the scenes details!
Although I now create Bespoke Wedding Collections, during my six years as a wedding planner I learned so, so much. So, rather than keeping that knowledge all to myself, I would rather share it with you as I know it still can go to good use! So, I decided to start first with this post, since I know it will be helpful. I hope you love it!
Ashley Victoria Photography
I have seen many a time where brides get overwhelmed, and it is very, very easy to happen. A lot of times, the first big experience you have as a bride after you get engaged is to go to a show. You get together with your friends, make a day of it, and by the time you get home, if you talked with the majority of vendors there, you may get home and be exhausted. At this one in particular, there will be over 100 vendors to meet you - meaning that is the potential for 100 conversations in one day.
However - before you think twice about going, if you know a bit more about what to expect plus a few tips to plan ahead to make it more enjoyable, you will have an absolute blast. I thought about when I was a bride and asked a few that I planned with back in the day when I was a wedding planner here at this same show, and so put together these tips to help you. And at the bottom? There's a helpful graphic that would be perfect for you to pin to remember everything in shortened terms. So! Without further ado, here are some tips to enjoy your experience(s) at at Bridal Show!
BEFORE THE SHOW
1. Choose an email address that will be strictly for wedding details. And wedding details only.
Before you start meeting with vendors when you're starting out with planning, try to create an email address that is strictly for your wedding. For example, WilsonWedding@gmail.com, or include your date, or a combination of your names in some way. This way, when you start to receive wedding emails, they are all in one place, and you won't get them mixed up with your personal emails. Then, take it one step further and create folders for each of the vendors - Stationery, Planner, Photography, Florist, DJ, Venue, etc. You will receive a lot of emails from everyone involved with your wedding throughout the planning process, so it will be really nice to have a place where you can have just those so none get missed. Gmail is my favorite, but whoever you're comfortable with, use them!
2. Pre-print your basic details on peel-off labels with your first and last name, address, phone number, email address, and wedding date printed on them.
Pretty much every vendor you chat with will ask you to leave your information with them so that they can follow up with you after the Bridal Show. However, if you don't want to fill out your name everytime with the vendors you want to hear from, this may save you a few steps. You can make and print them yourself using labels (I recommend this size of Avery 5160 labels, with 30 per page) or something similar. You will be writing your name and address a lot otherwise, entering the various giveaways and promotions.
THE DAY OF THE SHOW
3. Bring a friend or two along.
Yes, it can be your fiancé. You're going to need some help in carrying things around, as well as someone to offer an objective third party opinion on things. Also, having a friend with you helps you to get more excited about your wedding and makes the day even more memorable!
4. Print clearly!
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!
5. Don't be afraid to ask vendors questions.
The show is filled with wedding professionals who know a lot about different details with weddings, 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!!!
6. Drink Water.
This may seem silly, but this is a big one. Yes, coffee is a first for the beginning of the day, but you will likely be walking and talking for a few hours - water will keep you hydrated throughout the entire experience. It may be hot or you may be nervous - water will help.
7. Be prepared for Information Overload.
Every booth you walk by, vendors will greet you with a smile, ask if you are still in need of X or Y or Z, and if you say yes, then you will probably learn more about their services. From photographers to florists to even tasting cake samples, it is a lot to take in in one day. So, go in knowing that you are going to have a lot of conversations and receive a TON of information - and if you use Essential Oils, bring some Stress Away. ;)
8. Add a star or significant symbol to the cards of the vendors you love and want to remember.
When you find a vendor you would like to follow up with, as much as you want to think you will absolutely remember them, you just might not after the show is done. There may be one that you felt like you immediately clicked with and you know they'll be perfect for your wedding day. So, take a pen and add a star to their business card, or even take it a step further and write what struck you as appealing about them. One of my past brides folded the business cards in half of the ones she wanted to remember so that she didn't have to take the time to do that, but it definitely made those cards stand out more. 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.
9. Wear comfortable shoes. Wear comfortable shoes. Wear comfortable shoes.
Do I need to repeat it once more? 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. Think of it like your wedding day shoes - if they aren't broken in, you won't be dancing the night away with them on your feet. Wear comfortable flats or your favorite (broken in) heels and make yourself comfortable the whole day.
10. Don't feel obligated to sign up for everything.
Chances are, you will receive follow up details from those that have your email address - and the more emails you receive, the more work you have to do to keep your inbox organized. If you already have a venue booked, don't sign up for the lists for venues. If you already booked a photographer, don't sign up with additional ones. Use the Bridal Show to your advantage and think of it as a way to meet with a ton of vendors at once instead of googling or asking for referrals.
AFTER THE SHOW
OK! So! After the show, first celebrate the fact that you got to experience it as a Bride. Hooray for that! Then, once you get home, don't think you have to look at everything right away. Let yourself take a mental break for a bit. You don't need to look at everything at once. There is a pretty good chance you met with a lot of vendors and talked with a lot of people, and unless you feel it is absolutely necessary, give yourself grace and a break for a bit before diving into it all. Then,
11. When you are ready, arrange everyone into groups by type.
Make a group for each type of vendor – planners, florists, photographers, DJ's, etcetera. If you have the starred ones from the day of the show, put them on the top of each vendor pile.
Additional Tip: If there are vendors who gave you a discount card to use, organize those cards in a separate pile. Then, on a piece of paper (or on a calendar), write the services and expiration dates associated with the cards in order so that you don't miss out on opportunities from them if you are interested in possibly booking with them.
12. Purchase a binder to hold #allthingsweddingrelated in.
This is the one time in your life you are getting married. The one time in your life where you need to learn how to plan the biggest day of your life in probably a short amount of time. It will be so much more enjoyable if you can keep yourself organized from the get-go. Purchase a binder and put business card holders, page protectors, and folders inside of it to hold all of the different vendors information. You may also want to use this binder to put all of the pages from magazines that you tear out with details you would like to incorporate into your wedding or items that you like, such as favors, centerpieces, flowers, and dresses. Then, as you begin booking your vendors, keep all of your contracts in this binder as well as anything else that is wedding related and important to you. I also suggest to keep a copy of all vendor contracts online in your email just in case they're needed.
13. Most Importantly, enjoy this season in your life.
Remember that planning for your wedding and being engaged is supposed to be one of the best times of your lives together so far. Don't let yourself get too stressed out or tied up with the little things. I repeat - do not let yourself get tied up with the little things. At the end of the day, after your wedding is over and you are having a marriage, the important thing is that you found the one person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you said your I Dos to spend your lifetimes together, and that is all that truly matters. Everything will turn out beautifully in the end. Have fun and enjoy it, every single moment throughout that you can.
If you need a reminder that would be great to add to your Wedding Pinterest board, here you go!
Happy Planning, and if you will be at the Bridal Show this weekend, I hope to see you there!