First of all let’s get one thing clear – I hate the whole concept of wedding fairs (or even worse wedding fayres). I hate the name, I hate the idea of selling your wares, I hate the whole commercial clamour, the fact that anything with the word “wedding” attached to it is twice as expensive as anything else, the fact that you are lead to believe that you “need” oodles of “stuff” to have a “perfect” day and the fact that most suppliers seem to be there simply for their own gain in order to extract email addresses, phone numbers and hard earned cash out of poor unsuspecting newbie brides and groom! Need I go on? Yuk!!
Conversely, I love meeting people, chatting about photography, showing my photographs, helping people, meeting other lovely suppliers, eating free chocolate samples, eating free cake samples, drinking free coffee etc etc.
Oh dear…….a dilemma!
I currently only do one wedding show a year (more about that in a couple of weeks) and I do that one because it is small, intimate and attended by like minded suppliers. I don’t go trying to sell my services – I go with the intention of having a chat about my work, helping people with their wedding planning where I can and meeting other suppliers.
Enough about me – so – how can the freshly engaged wedding fayre (how I hate the Olde Eynglishe vibe when they add a “y” like that!) virgin ensure that she/he doesn’t get the proverbial wedding-joy stuffing knocked out of them at the first hurdle?
Simple! You need a three point battle plan – preparation, engagement and aftermath.
Go with a plan – Have a quick think about what you want to get from the show. Do you need to find certain suppliers? Are you looking for general ideas or do you need to make specific purchases?
Check the website – once you have an idea of what you are looking for head off the the show’s website and start doing a bit of research – there will probably be links to the supplier’s websites and you will be able to get a good feel for what you might want to look out for, questions you might want to ask and suppliers you want to find and avoid!
Set up a unique wedding email – you will probably be asked to “register” at the door when you arrive. You will be encouraged to part with as much personal information as possible. At most big fairs this info is passed straight onto the suppliers after the fair in a big pretty excel spam sheet – you get the idea! Some of the email follow ups you get might be helpful but you will probably get A LOT – you probably don’t want these clogging up your main inbox – so another wedding email address is a good idea.
Take a willing side kick – This DOESN’T have to be your partner, in fact, unless he is completely chomping at the bit to go possibly choose bridesmaids/best friends/mothers/siblings etc. Now I’m being very sexist about this at the moment but, statistically, wedding shows seem to be mainly haunted by brides and sidekicks – grooms (very very often looking extremely bored/uncomfortable/fish out of water/missing the football), bridesmaids and sisters being the most common combinations. I have seen poor long suffering grooms rolling their eyes, I’ve seen couples arguing and also brides on their own who have inexplicably “lost” their boy along the way!
Go equipped! – Ok, well this basically means comfy shoes, a folder/bag/binbag to dump all the “blurb” you will accumulate, a note book if you are really organised, camera if you are scary and water as it’s thirsty work trying all those free cake samples!
So, you have done all your homework and the exciting day arrives! You brave the traffic, get ripped off for parking, are essentially stripped of all your personal information at the door by the “welcome team” (see previous point about having a “wedding email address”) and you are finally ready for the next phase of the battle plan….
DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START WITH PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?
Don't worry! Get your FREE copy of "Stress Free Wedding Planning for Beginners."
Let me help you with great wedding planning ideas, tips to avoid disasters and insider knowledge to help your planning be as stress free and fun as possible!
Toilets – work out where the toilets are and don’t wait until you are desperate. The queue for the ladies at these places is always leg crossingly HUMUNGOUS for most of the day so you need to plan ahead – especially after all the liquid you will need to take on to wash down the free samples!
Plan a route – at big shows it can pay to plan your route now that you can see the lay of the land. You might employ the Tesco up and down the aisle technique or the more focussed prioritise the important suppliers technique according to your planning (see above).
Say “no” and also “yes” – like a lamb to the slaughter you wander into the fray of battle and are immediately apprehended by wedding suppliers. If you are not interested simply say “no thank you” – it will save us all a lot of time but it’s also nice to have a bit of a chat. As a supplier looking from the other side of the table it’s great to have a bit of a natter and meet new people and most suppliers really don’t bite! Get stuck in, ask questions, try things out, try things on -we really like people that do that!….which brings me to the next most important point…
Try the free samples – I think I’m making too much of a point about this but, with only a nominal effort, it would be very easy consume your daily calorific intake in cake, chocolate and ice cream samples as well as leave feeling a bit champagne squiffy. Lovely!
Take notes – from the suppliers you are really interested in take a few notes and or pics on your phone. When you get home it will all be a bit of a blur (depending on how diligently you work on the point above!) so having some notes to refer to will be really helpful.
Avoid impulse buying – in fact I would say not to actually commit to buying anything at a wedding fair at all. Call me a tight fisted nominal Yorkshireman but I always like time to think about it before opening my wallet. Besides, you probably will want to chat about it with your groom first and things always seem less of a necessity afterwards in the cold light of day.
Make appointments – if you are really interested in a suppliers products and services make an appointment for a later date where you can talk in a bit more detail, take a bit more time and see them more in their natural habitat rather than at the wedding fair.
Go and see the magician – even if you don’t want one at your wedding they will probably be putting on the best free show in the whole building.
Reward Yourself – well done! You did it! Have a relaxing bath or, if you’re a glutton for punishment , put on the wedding channel and snuggle on the sofa with a lovely cup of tea!
Disseminate the info – go through your notes and all of the stuff you have accumulated. You will probably file most of it in the recycling but there will be some gems in there and hopefully some information that will have made the experience worthwhile.
Make appointments – use the info, contact the suppliers, go to see them, buy their stuff! Many of the most popular cake makers, photographers, DJs etc get booked up well in advance so don’t hang around. The sooner you do it the more choice you are likely to have.
I hope that that was helpful! let me know by leaving a comment if you have any other ideas to add!
Let's have a chat about your ideas for your wedding and your photography.