So, in the Wedding and Event Industry, there are two seasons: the Event Season (about 10 months) and the "Show off the Goods" season. And, on this December Day, we at Encore find ourselves smack dab in the middle of "Show off the Goods" season, or as its more widely known: Bridal Show Season.
I am a big advocate of Bridal Shows, especially awesome ones like the Perfect Bridal Show at the Rochester Plaza Hotel, hosted by Rochester Wedding Magazine on January 11th (shameless plug, come see our booth). Bridal shows are an amazing opportunity for an engaged couple planning a wedding to begin evaluating the vendors who will help them create the magic of their perfect wedding. My warning to any bridal couple ready to invest the time in checking out a Bridal Show is this: Without a plan, it can be a jungle out there! Without some strategies in place, the shear volume of information available can be overwhelming. Here's some tips from the Encore Team, veteran Bridal Show Presenters, on how to best navigate the sea of options:
- IT'S SPEED DATING, NOT THE DATE ITSELF- Look, the best bridal shows will have a large selection of the best Wedding Professionals, and therefore the largest attendance of bridal couples. It can be a loud, hectic scene, and therefore meaningful conversations and true evaluation of how a vendor "fits the vision of your wedding" can be challenging. Don't put the pressure on yourself to assume you are going to book the perfect vendor at the show. Have one or two questions ready and have quick conversations to gauge a vendor's "personality-fit" with you. Make a short list of vendors you liked, for each category you need, and set future, off-site consultations. Then you can have deeper, more productive conversations.
- DON'T SUCCUMB TO THE PRESSURE OF AN "ACT-NOW" DEAL- Here's the thing, and I will write this as delicately as I can. There will be plenty of vendors at a bridal show who never want you to interview multiple vendors...they know they might not stack up under true scrutiny and evaluation. So, their plan is to offer an "AMAZING" Bridal Show-Only Special...only good if you "sign on the dotted line" right there at the show. BE AFRAID of any vendor who are only offering a special deal if you book blindly without the opportunity for deeper evaluation. Hey, if they can afford to offer the deal at the show, they can afford to offer it the next week after you've had the chance to do some homework. Ask yourself, what are they afraid you will find out if you don't book right there at the show?
-DON'T JUST BOOK VENDORS, BOOK A TEAM OF VENDORS- Weddings are intricate events. There are a lot of "moving parts": Timelines to be managed, special moments to be executed, large groups of people to be coordinated...there's a lot going on! One of the most critical pieces of advice we can give for a successful event: Hire vendors who work together a lot! Vendors who get along, who know each others tendencies, and who have a history of success events together is a recipe for an amazingly well-run event. So, at a Bridal Show, ask a vendor who their other vendor friends are. If you've booked a vendor or two already, ask who they prefer to work with and ask for an intro at the Bridal Show. See if you can tell how a vendor you are considering is getting along with their "Bridal Show Booth neighbors". Does the vendor look like they are having FUN at the Bridal Show? If not, it might be because they don't have any friends there (sounds silly, but it isn't).
Bottom line, have a plan and don't let the fun craziness of the Show to "undo-it". Better yet, just come visit the Encore booth at the next show, we will walk you through it! : )