Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to Maximize Time at a Bridal Show

Weddings are a big business and there is no shortage of vendors anxious to help the newly engaged novice spend her dough. As we've said before, the list of stationery needs itself is mind-boggling. Throw in venues, caterers, floral, bakers, transportation and attire options and even a level-headed bride could lose her cool.

This is when a well-timed bridal show can save the day.
A savvy bride will devise a plan to maximize her bridal show experience, depending on which planning stage she is in - early planning or late-stage planning. Here are a few tips to help you create a plan, no matter where you are in the wedding planning process.

Early Planning

You will get the most benefit from a bridal show if you can attend early in your engagement. Here are three tips to help you maximize your time and get the most benefit from your next bridal show.

1. Collect Information

If you haven't been around the wedding biz in a while you will want to update your knowledge of what is available. Be sure to carry a journal or notebook so you can take notes and collect business cards and brochures from as many potential vendors as possible.

2. Register for Prizes

Most vendors try to entice couples to their stands with the promise of a free add-on, an upgrade or a free giveaway. Since you are in the early planning stages and likely haven't committed-or more importantly, signed a contract and paid a deposit, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to win some freebies and trim your budget.

3. Make Connections

Many vendors agree there is more to a potential client than how much money they plan to spend.

No, seriously.

Think about this ...

A popular caterer is regularly booked months-if not more than a year-in advance. They spend an enormous amount of time and energy with each couple and feel invested in that couple's success.

Since they are pretty confident they will be booked by someone, and hence earn the money, other factors, such as personality, character, likability and chemistry are important to them. Yes, it might be their "job" to cater weddings, but no one wants to work with Bridezilla ... trust me.

When you meet a potential vendor, spend a few minutes getting to know them. Listen to what they are saying and try to find common ground by sharing interesting facts about you or your fiancee. When you call them to get a quote, remind them of who you are by mentioning your common interests or by reminding them of something the two of you talked about.

This works!

My husband and I own a bed and breakfast overseas. I reminded everyone I contacted that I was the bride who lived in Italy they had met at the bridal show in Beaumont, Texas in January.

I'm convinced I saved $150 off entertainment, received a free upgrade on our Old Time Photo Booth and received between $800-$1,000 in free alcohol upgrades from our caterer, only because they wanted to work with us.

Late Planning

It is important for couples who attend bridal shows late in their engagement to have a clear set of goals established before they go. If you have already booked a venue and photographer, then politely skip those tables. Focus only on what you need. Time is of the essence!

It is okay to have tunnel-vision at this point ... in fact, I think you should. Otherwise, you will likely waste valuable time you need to be spending elsewhere.

It is no secret that bridal shows are fun and recently betrothed couples can get valuable information, free upgrades and innovative ideas, but bridal shows can also be overwhelming. So be sure to maximize your time by focusing on the decisions you need to make and make bridal shows work for you.

What are some of the best ideas you have found at bridal shows
Photo courtesy of Allegro Photography

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