Now, after describing how difficult bridal shows can be, I must give them credit where credit is due. If you know what you’re doing, Bridal shows can be a wonderful thing. Here’s what I recommend.
Take a small purse. You should be given a big bag with brochures and magazines in it to begin with and you can store all the other information you get in there.
Know what you’re looking for. If you don’t have any vendors yet, expect to take a lot of time and energy finding the ones you want. Booths are organized in such a way that there won’t be competing vendors next to each other. This means that if you’re looking for a florist, you will have to either like the first one you meet, or walk through the whole show to interview every florist you can find. If you are looking for just the florist, however, you can skip over all the catering, photography and insurance booths.
If it’s something you’re interested in, sign up for the free stuff! By registering for the event, you have already given permission for these vendors to send you emails and snail mailings, so you won’t lose anything by giving them your email address and you might actually win something really cool! I have a friend who won a free honeymoon, and I won our champagne flutes for free. Now, in my case, I had to sit through a presentation for some cooking thing, but really, it was fun, I got to taste good, free food and I only had to sit there for like an hour to get my flutes. That’s pretty much worst case scenario.
Take a sharpie and a small notebook. When you take a business card or brochure or flyer, write on it what you liked about that vendor and what your reservations are about them. If you just throw it in your bag, you will go home with a bag of hundreds of papers and you won’t remember who any of them belonged to. If there isn’t space on their card to write, jot down in your notebook the name of the company and any important points to remind yourself later. Your notebook can also be used to sketch or describe any ideas that you see. You will see floral arrangements and catering ideas and table settings. Keep your eyes peeled for that perfect idea.
Take a breather. You can probably get through the first few aisles without a break, but you will soon feel overwhelmed. The last time I went, my sister and I actually stopped at each end of the aisles to get out of the crowd, slow our breathing and rest our feet. It is emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting, but if you take a break, it’s not so bad. You should also plan a little down time after the show to relax. You don’t want any stress-related break-outs, now do you?
Be honest with the vendors. If they launch into a spiel and you really aren’t interested at all, just say something like “you know, that sounds great, but I already have a florist” or “I’m still looking, but I’ll keep you in mind” or “That’s not really my style, but thanks anyway”. Be honest so that you aren’t wasting their time or yours. Now, if you are interested, tell them that too! You will be surrounded with people who want your business and if you look at one booth and think, gosh, that’s really great, but you just keep looking without talking to them, you may forget how great they were. If you aren’t sure, give your contact information to the vendor and tell them you’re still looking. I bet they’ll call you. And, if you already found another by that time, no loss.
Lastly, don’t go alone! This is a stressful environment and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s nice to have someone you love with you to keep you grounded. They can also help you remember the good stuff. I recommend no more than two people with you.