January always brings a rash of bridal shows. I know in my little market there are three in the next 6 days and that is just the beginning. On my other site I write a couple of columns a year on how to make the most of these for the bridal professionals that participate in them. I guess it’s about time I turn some of that around for my brides.
Picking the show: Face it, you can’t go to all of them; there is only so much time. If you want to be methodical about it you need to look at what vendors will be participating in each show. Every show lists their participants on their website so you can check them out. Look at who is going to be there. Are they the vendors that you are interested in? If you are doing an over the top elegant wedding why waste your time at a show where all the vendors are in the low budget range.
It also matters where you are in the planning process. If you are just starting out and only looking for ideas pick the biggest, baddest show on the block. Now it may be so crowded that you really won’t be able to talk to any vendors but you are only there to gather info anyway, right?
If you are pretty well on in the process and looking to fill a few gaps then you really want to look over that roster before you go. Look at who will be there that offers the services that you still need, check out their websites in advance get your questions down. A smaller more low key show is what you want for this. That way you will have a chance to talk to them one on one before you take the time to meet for a consultation. That can save a ton of time in the long run by eliminating those professionals that you just don’t click with.
What to Take: Every show will want your information. For the vendors that is what this is all about: getting that lead list. (Although in all honesty very few of them ever use it.; but that is another rant for another site. Hehe) To make your life easier print out some address labels to take with you. They need the following information:
· Bride & Groom name
· Location (city and zipcode)
· Wedding Date
· Email address
For this bit I am sure I will be raked over the coals by my buddies in the industry but here goes…
DO NOT give them your address, phone number or your normal email address. Set up a separate email account for bridal related email. When you meet a professional whose services you truly want to pursue give them the addy for your main account. Like wise, don’t give them invalid information. It’s just not nice to make them waste their time calling you only to get connected to the local graveyard or massage parlor. As for an invalid email, that can affect their spam rate and damage their reputation. So be nice, if you don’t want to hear from them just don’t give them anything.
One more point on what not to take. Leave the strollers and the kidlets at home. You need to be able to maneuver and to focus. Hire a babysitter ‘cause this ain’t no stroll in the park!
Once You Are There: I have never figured out why so many people show up at the second the door opens. Avoid the rush and head out an hour or so after the doors open, the wedding professional aren’t going any where.
First make a quick circuit of the show noting on the program any one that catches your eye. Check for listings of seminars and their times as well as the times for the fashion shows.
Take a break and make a plan of attack. Go back and visit with the booths that caught your eye. Get a feel for them, check out their products and get a few questions answered. Keep it brief, most professional need to meet and talk to about 6 brides per hour at these shows. If you click with someone make an appointment to continue the conversation at a real consultation.
You will get a lot and I do mean a lot of literature. Once you get home and try to sort it all out it will all start to look alike. Taking a little pre-emptive action at the show can help. Try to keep all that paper in 3 separate piles/places/bags.
- I really, really like them.
- Ya, maybe.
- Not on your life buster! (this one hits the trash on the way out)
If you make an appointment with someone or they stood out for some reason take a second to make a note on their handouts.
One more thing that I have to say and that’s because it is a pet peeve of mine. Cameras. Please ask at each booth before you start snapping away. Nothing use to make me more upset than someone taking a picture of a unique cake of mine that I had used my time, talent and creativity to design so they could have some two-bit hack try to recreate it. Grrrrrrrrrrr. Just ask before you take someone’s intellectual property. You really don’t want to start your new life with a big ol’pile of bad karma hanging around.