1. Decide on your partner in crime.
I've noticed that wedding show groups come in all different types, almost always one of them is the bride! Some come as couples, some do a girly day with their bridesmaids, some with mothers or parents, some as families. It's important that whoever you bring will be able to most importantly be able to carry a bag full of brochures and that will follow closely as you dart off in all directions. That person or group should also be one that will help you make informed decisions on the day without pushing you into anything. You want to stick together too, if your groom has gone to check out that very cool stag night stand and you're standing in front of your dream venue with a decision to make, you'll need him, stat!
2. Research before you go.
Have a look at who will be exhibiting and what services you still need for your wedding. Many suppliers have show specials on the day and if you have already looked at their website and reviews and like their work it could be a great time to take advantage of the special and book. Think of it as speed dating for wedding suppliers, take advantage of having so many suppliers at one place at one time. You can save yourself much time on appointments by chatting to the suppliers in the categories you need at the show. Arm yourself with questions and be prepared to take notes.
3. Create a plan.
Most shows will have a fashion show, this is a fantastic way to see what the trends are or what designers you should look into. Even if you've got that part sorted, it's a lot of fun and they showcase suits, bridesmaids dresses and cute kids attire so make sure you don't miss out. Every show has a different layout too, it helps to come up with a plan of how you will make your way around the venue so you don't miss out on anything, we often see groups coming past two or three times so account for extra time as well.
4. Dress for it.
You will do a lot of walking and standing around so wear comfortable shoes. Crowds can also make the room feel hot and stuffy so don't wear anything too warm or that you can't take off. A comfortable bag that works well in crowds is also a good thing to think about. It also helps (and is fun) to wear something to identify yourself as a bride so the suppliers know who to talk to.
5. We're all much the same.
Wedding suppliers are a special bunch. We LOVE weddings so generally when we ask you all about how your wedding plans are going we are genuinely interested. You don't need to be scared of us but it's ok to be weary, use your instincts and common sense. Every supplier wants to sell you their services, that's why they're there, that's why you're there. Some will have obvious sales pitches, others will seem more laid back but we all want to engage you and that's ok. If you like a supplier, give them YOUR details. Trying to remember which one of the 20 florists you met was the one you wanted to follow up on may be difficult when you get home from the show.
6. Visit everyone.
You need to be efficient with your time and of course the size of the show must be taken into consideration but if you can, visit every stand. Although it's good to know what your coming for and focus on what you need it's also good to look at other suppliers. Even though you've already booked your photographer and you're not interested in candy buffets, check them out anyway. It may be that for some reason you lose your photographer and after your best friends wedding you've totally changed your mind about that candy buffet. You will already have cards for these suppliers and can get in contact with them without the rigmarole of researching someone new.
7. How to remember us.
If you see a supplier's work that you love, take a quick photo of their stand/business name or jot it down in a notebook. Many brides think they will remember but there is just so much to look at, you'll likely forget. Then when you get home you can look back on the suppliers you were interested in. Most shows will provide you with a bag to house all the brochures you will receive, it is a great idea to have a seperate little bag for the brochures of the suppliers you are REALLY interested in and want to remember the most.
8. If your interested, let us know.
There are tons of brides that go through these big shows and sometimes we can't talk to everyone as much as we'd like so if you're interested in what we do, give us your details and we can contact you. It doesn't mean you'll be hounded by daily emails but you will be contacted, it's much easier than getting home and tipping that bag of business cards and brochures out on the table and trying to remember which ones you wanted to contact. If you bring your diary or planner you can likely make an appointment with the suppliers you're interested in as you go. There will also be suppliers that you really don't need or already have set in stone so feel free to respectfully decline brochures of those you're not interested in, suppliers spend a lot of money on their promotional material and will appreciate your honesty. If you find a supplier that you have your heart set on, ask them to pencil in your date, especially if your date is in wedding season, you could miss out as many take this opportunity.
9. Ask for referrals.
You may run into a supplier you already have booked or are chatting to one you really click with. Many of these suppliers will have worked with one another so ask us for suggestions and referrals. We'd be more than happy to tell you which associates we think would suit you and your wedding and you'll feel better knowing that another supplier feels their work is of quality.
10. Make a day of it and enjoy yourself.
Take your time, take in the sights, chat to people. Wedding planning, as stressful and full on as it can be can also be really enjoyable. You'll probably only do it once so have fun with it. Most brides go to these shows to meet suppliers and find inspiration, make sure you stop and actually do that!