You’re engaged. Now what?
Congratulations! You’re engaged! This is such an exciting time in your life. Now that you’ve posted your ring selfie and told everyone you know, you’re probably wondering what to do next. It’s no secret that planning a wedding is a full time job. Not to mention, today’s brides are only getting busier and busier. So where do you start? Chances are you’ve been stashing inspiration away on that hidden Pinterest wedding board. But, how do you go about actually making plans?
You’ll probably do what I did. You’ll want to see your options.
When I was engaged, I went to several bridal shows (in several different cities!) I was so excited when it came to planning my own wedding. Although going to a bridal show as a bride can be extremely exciting, it may also be even a little overwhelming! There’s sometimes over 100 vendors competing for your attention as you walk by the booths and bakers feeding you as many cake samples or sweet treats as you can eat. (Okay, the cake isn’t always a bad thing!)
How-To Get the Most From a Bridal Show
With so much information being thrown at you at once as you frantically stuff it all in your various swag bags, how do you get the most out of a show and still have some fun? Here are my sweetest secrets on how to get the most out of a bridal show so you can leave feeling energized and confident about your wedding planning.
Know Why You’re Going in the First Place
When it comes to a bridal show, you need to think of why you’re going in the first place. I’ll admit, the first bridal show I went to I think my mom, fiance, and I were more interested than anything in the free stuff and cake samples rather than actually talking to vendors. (No shame here, girl friend!)
Are you just engaged and mainly wanting to go for fun before you actually start any wedding planning? Are you finally ready to start your planning, but have no idea where to go for all your vendors? Or are you on a mission to find a specific type of vendor to complete your wedding day? Lastly, do you have your vendor team but still want to go for fun and get some inspiration?
It sounds silly. However, I promise that thinking of a bridal show in this way will make it so much less overwhelming. You’ll know the vendors you need. (and maybe don’t need!) Thus, you’ll know who you need to seek out and talk to. For example: If you are only needing a photographer and a florist, you can spend your time focusing on finding those vendors and talking to them. On the other hand, if you’re going for fun or inspiration, you’ll feel better knowing that you don’t have to talk to anyone you don’t want to! In the end, you’ll have less stress and a better time enjoying the show.
Do Your Homework
You know why you’re wanting to go to a bridal show. Now it’s time to do some homework. (I get it, no one likes homework!) But, if you’re going to a bridal show with the goal of finding people to complete your vendor team, it’s important to research the vendors that will be in attendance. This will help you save money (and time!) by attending a show that may not have exactly what you’re looking for. You can sometimes find this information on the bridal show’s website or social media pages.
Bring a Bag
It was no exaggeration when I said that you’ll be given too much information to know what to do with by just simply walking by a booth. You’ll be frantically stuffing papers in various swag bags, juggling the huge stack in your hands, or losing track of where it all went. When I was engaged, I had a tote that I carried all my wedding planning papers and files in. Not only did it keep me organized, but it kept it all together for me to go through when I got home. It also signaled that I was a bride to all the vendors at a show. (Because we love everyone to know we’re engaged!) Needless to say, my ‘Totes Engaged’ tote was the PERFECT bridal show accessory!
I can’t remember where I got my bag from since it was a gift. But, I linked some great shopping picks below that you’re going to love!
- Wifey Tote Bag from Macy’s (This one is perfect to carry even after the big day!)
- Bride Tote from Nordstrom (#1)
- Here Comes the Bride Tote from Nordstrom
- Bride Tote from Nordstrom (#2)
- Sequin Bride Tote from Shoptiques
Don’t Go With Your Whole Entourage
If you’ve been to a bridal show before, I’m sure you’ve seen those big parties walking behind the bride with their matching t-shirts and ‘Bride Tribe’ accessories. Then again, maybe that was just a Texas thing. (After all, everything is bigger in Texas!) Either way, I felt almost embarrassed for the bride. But, I also don’t like that much attention on me in public settings.
Going to a bridal show with all your girlfriends may sound like a lot of fun, but it also doesn’t allow you to experience what the bridal show is really about: connecting you with vendors. The vendors are really only focused on meeting and connecting with brides. Not to mention, it’s almost impossible to have an actual conversation with a vendor with that many people in tow awkwardly waiting to move to the next booth in the background or running around to other booths on your behalf. It may just be me, but I also don’t like the idea of each person within my entourage off talking to vendors for me while I am at another booth!
Going to your first bridal show with all your girlfriends, mom, and aunt before you really start any planning can be extremely exciting and a lot of fun. But, I’d suggest scaling down your party for the shows that you actually want to interact with vendors at. Without having to worry about your entourage, you’ll be able to have those conversations you need to have with vendors regarding packages or even pricing. You’ll still have fun with your select party, and you’ll be able to leave with more information and feeling a little bit more accomplished!
When you talk to a vendor at a bridal show, they’ll 10/10 times ask you to fill out an information card for them to contact you later about their services. If you also enter any giveaways or contests, you’ll have to fill them out as well. There’s nothing worse than spending all your time at a bridal show writing down your contact information over and over for all of the vendors. (Especially when you could be trying cake samples!) It’s awkward, time consuming, and annoying when you’re either trying to have a legit conversation with a vendor or maybe even awkwardly trying to get away as soon as possible.
Some bridal shows allow you to purchase labels from them before you actually walk into the show. However, as you can imagine, this is marked up for something you can just do easily at home! Plus, you’ll be able to use that time filling our your info before the show to be able to go straight in and enjoy it! Go to an office supply store, buy some Avery printable labels, and make your own at home. It’s cheaper, way easier, and you’ll have labels made for all the bridal shows you plan on attending over the next year!
Make the labels with the following information:
- First and Last name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Wedding Date – Most Important!
Having labels printed out with this information will save you so much time at bridal shows. It will allow you to just peel and stick your information on those annoying contact cards rather than spending several minutes at each booth filling them out. You’ll be able to spend more time looking at vendors and less time stuck at a booth you may not even be totally interested in.
It’s Okay to Say No Thank-You
It’s hard for brides to move past a booth that she may not need to talk to or be interested in. Like I mentioned above, there’s most likely over 100 vendors competing for your attention. A lot of times they will even jump out to meet you out in the aisle to get to talk to you! So if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to pass them up and not hear what they have to say. (Y’all, I know I’m not the only one with a fear for being rude!) I remember going to a bridal show and being stuck talking to a venue representative when I already had my venue booked for months. I would also get trapped in conversation with vendors when I would go to bridal shows in other cities when I was really there for inspiration and ideas.
I’m here to tell you that’s it’s okay to excuse yourself!
You’re not forced to talk to anyone that you may not want to talk to at a bridal show. While it may feel like it, they aren’t holding you hostage with your ticket! It’s perfectly okay to say, “I already have a ______, thank you!” when they start giving you their script and move on. Even if you don’t have a _______ and just don’t want to talk to them, it’s a nice way to get yourself off the conversational hook rather than pretending you didn’t hear them as you walk by. This way you save their time and allow them to talk to another bride who may need a ______ while also saving your own time and allowing you to see other vendors and more that the show has to offer.
Reach out to Vendors After the Show
Sometimes after a show the vendors will reach out to you from the contact card that you filled out at their booth. However, if they don’t, I’d suggest reaching out to the ones you are interesting in. Send a quick and easy email saying something like “Hi _______, My name is Cathy Nugent. We met briefly at the bridal show this past weekend! I am getting married on ________ in ____________ (city/state). I would love to hear more about your packages and services for my big day!” They’ll most likely get back to you quickly with their package information if they’re available for your big day.
You didn’t hear it from me. Most vendors have special deals or discounts for bridal shows. But, it’s only for those that book within so many days following their meeting at a bridal show. Don’t let that rush you into a decision though. Discounts aside, reaching out and securing vendors while they are still fresh in your mind is a great way to dwindle down your task list and possibly even save some money!
Let’s get planning, shall we?
You may be reading this and thinking, “Cathy I knew all this!” That’s GREAT! You are ready to take on everything that a bridal show has to offer you. I hope this gave you the confidence to start tackling your wedding planning.
On the other hand, there are chances that you had no idea what a bridal show was about. If that’s the case, that’s GREAT, too! I hope reading this really opened your eyes on how to make your bridal show experience even better. Not to mention, I really hope this gets you excited and confident about taking on your first bridal show. Your engagement and the little events you participate in along the way are truly an exciting time in your life. Plan well, and party often. You’ve deserved it!