Your engagement is an exciting time and undoubtedly there are many decisions that need to be made before the big day. Bridal shows can be a different experience for every bride… it can be overwhelming with the number of vendor options or it can be very informative in narrowing down the perfect vendors for your wedding.
I recently attended the Bridal Association of the Brazos Valley Spring Bridal Show & Benefit. I’ve put together a few takeaways that I think will help you ahead of time, before attending a bridal show that will leave you calm, cool and organized!
Have a few wedding dates in mind.
When you sit down with wedding venues the first question (after saying congratulations on your engagement) is when are you getting married? Mike and I discussed a few dates with our family ahead of time and knew that we had two weekends available to work with.
You might also keep in mind that some venues provide discounts for the time of year or even the day of the week you decide to get married. If you are looking to save a little on the budget this is an area where you can save, as long as you are flexible on your dates and the day of the week.
Have an idea of your guest headcount.
There is a big difference between 50 guests and 200 guests. When looking for a venue it’s important to have a rough estimate of the number of guests you plan to invite to your wedding. Having a guest estimated headcount will automatically eliminate some venues because they simply don’t have the capacity or maybe they are too large. This was our situation, we have a small guest list so we actually had a hard time finding a venue that would accommodate a smaller guest size.
Have your budget together.
To avoid sticker shock, start a budget that includes all of the key categories: wedding venue, photographer, floral, catering, music, bar, bridal gown, etc. Know which categories are the most important to you. For me, it was important to allow a little extra for floral arrangements at the ceremony and reception. Every bride has personal preferences on what is the most important line item in the budget.
Limit the number of people you take with you.
Sometimes opinions are discouraging in large numbers. My advice is to take the key decision-makers with you. Browsing through the aisles with my fiance one-on-one was nice, so we could decide on the vendors we wanted to work with together. After the bridal show, we shared our highlights with family members and friends. Bringing your entire entourage can keep you from accomplishing your goals of meeting the right vendors and collecting all the information you need to make the right choices for your wedding.
How to tackle the bridal show.
Vendors can range from photographers, caterers, venues, bridal gowns, florists, bakeries, hair salons, etc. Of course, all of these vendors are key to making your wedding day the event of the year. Prioritizing them is one way to make the most out of your visit to the bridal show.
The first two vendors I would start with are photographers and the venues. I knew which photographer I wanted to book and I had narrowed down our venue selection to two options prior to the show. This is where you can use the preselected wedding dates that you and your fiance have decided on to help you set up your key vendors. I worked with our photographer and venue collectively to choose the date that worked for everyone’s calendars. I think that this would be a challenge to try and do at the bridal show, but you can at least limit the time you spend in booths with photographers and venues that don’t accommodate your dates.
This is a sampling.
It’s important to remember that a Bridal Show is a showcase of vendors who have elected to be there and are most likely members of the Bridal Association. Sometimes the photographer you were hoping to connect with isn’t at the show because he or she does not participate in shows. Just know that a Bridal Show is not a complete list of your wedding vendor options, but it’s a great place to start.
Finally, remember to take a pen and paper for notes. If you have some of the big questions answered like your wedding date options and your wedding guest headcount, your bridal show will be successful!