Here we are…prepping for wedding season. You, as a bride, (or groom, mother of the bride, bridesmaid or any other member of the bridal entourage) and me as a vendor. About seven years ago when I was on the bride side of the aisle instead of the vendor’s I entered my first expo excited, entourage in toe, but I had no idea what to expect. A few years later I was part of the entourage, still equally as excited and a little more sure of what to do. Then, as fate would have it, there I was even more years later on the other side of the table vying for the attention of the attendees. I just wrapped up with my latest expo event at the Reef on the Water in Downtown Long Beach and after being on both sides of the aisle, you can say that I have a good amount of experience to offer in expo attending so I wanted to offer a few tips for those as excited and overwhelmed as I was:
- Take your energy- There are usually tons of people at these expos and tons of vendors. So be prepared for a bit of a sensory overload at first. But after you’re there dive in.
- Take the right people- It maybe tempting to bring everyone you know, but just like you typically would take 10+ people to Disneyland you probably don’t want to take 10+ people to a bridal expo.
- Eat- Eat something beforehand but leave enough room for cake samples and hor d’oreves. You also want to have enough in your stomach those champagne and signature cocktail samples.
- Make custom labels- You will be asked over and over to write down your names, wedding dates, email address and phone number, so let your printer do the work ahead of time and just peel and stick onto the sign in sheets at each booth
- Have a plan of attack- Oftentimes at these expos the vendors who would really like to meet you (and offer the best deals) are tucked away in the worst location, like downstairs or in the back. The guests don’t tend to make it that far so they will be happy to see you and you will most likely have a better chance of getting a better deal
- Enter raffles- These actually work. I have personally won three, and I typically don’t win anything! I’ve won everything from a free hotel stay to Tiffany Champagne flutes and I’ve raffled off anything from Spa Gift Certificates to custom designed Save the Dates. Who doesn’t want free stuff? So why not take a chance?
- Sign Up for Their Mailing Lists-I know, I know. Why do you want to be be on another mailing list? Well for one, vendors tend to offer a discounted rate on their packages or a raffle ticket (see tip above). Also, you never truly know what they have to offer until you do so.
- Don’t Insult the Vendor- Vendors ofter pay a lot of money to prepare for these expos and for most this is their career. If it’s not a right fit for you then it may be for someone else so take your free sample and move right along.
- Come prepared- You never know what you will find at these expos. I personally purchased my designer wedding gown at a bridal expo for $500. Thats right a designer dress for $500. I tried it on and fell in love took it home and got it altered. If I hadn’t been prepared I would have spent at least five times that amount on the same dress.
- Take pictures- Usually the vendors are open to having pictures to taken of their products and or displays, but when in doubt, ask. It will be nice to look back at the inspiration and you will also get an idea of what some of the trends are of the season.
- Keep in an Open Mind- Some of the vendors that you run into may be out of your budget, some of them may not be a good fit but at least will walk away with a starting point and some ideas.
- Get there early- Most of the best sample and raffle prizes are given away within the first hour or so so make sure that you don’t miss all the fun.
- Don’t pay full price- Oftentimes, even the most elite expos or bridal events offer free or discounted tickets you just have to know where to look. Look online or check with a vendor appearing at the expo or even the venue hosting it. They usually have tickets to give away and they are just waiting for you to claim them.
- Have fun- Get all the samples and discounts that are being offered to you. Enjoy the attention and fan fare of being engaged, you’ve earned it!
P.S. I’ve included a couple pics from my latest event at The Reef on the Water in Long Beach which served at inspiration for this post 🙂