September 04, 2009

SSE's Bridal Show Survival Guide

It’s the time of year when the mornings start to feel crisp, fall clothing is in the stores, kids are getting ready for school, and the Bridal Show Fall Season is about to begin!

Although many brides-to-be anticipate this time of year with excitement, we have come across a few that feel stressed and overwhelmed by all of the bridal show choices. Choosing the shows you will attend - and a strategy to attack them - can leave even the most organized bride feeling drained and nervous for their first bridal show experience.

To ensure you get the most out each bridal show you attend, we have put together a list of tips and tricks that will help keep you sane during this overwhelming experience!

Before the Show…
1. Strategize! Conduct some pre-show research on all of the available bridal shows in your area. Take into account the show’s location, size, and the attending vendors (usually listed on the bridal show’s website) to determine if it is the right fit for you. For example, you probably won’t find what you're looking for if you are planning an outdoor wedding in cottage country and attend a show featuring downtown-based, contemporary vendors. Make sure you do your research!

2. Make a list. Having a general idea of what you’re looking for before walking into the show will not only make you feel organized, it will help you accomplish your goals. Determine the vendor categories you are interested in and make a note of the vendors, within those categories that you want to visit with. Take a look at the vendor’s websites before meeting them in person, as you will only get a short interview with each of them during the show. Another great tip? Write out all of your questions for each vendor so you don't forget when you finally get face time with them. Establishing your top picks vendor list before the show will help you stay on track and, it may even help you snag a great deal.

3. Print address labels. We've found that the majority of vendors at bridal shows offer contests, draws, door prizes, or a mailing list ballot for you to fill out. To save time, and to keep your hand from getting sore, bring pre-printed address labels that you can easily stick on the ballots. Labels should include: your full name, phone number, full mailing address, e-mail address and wedding date.

4. Research the fashion show/special event times. Seating for the fashion shows and/or special events are generally on a first come first serve basis. Seats can start filling up even as early as an hour before the show starts! If there is a fashion show or event that you would really like to attend, make sure you arrive early enough to reserve your seats.

5. Invite one or two trustworthy companions. We understand with the excitement of wedding planning, you may be tempted to invite your whole wedding party, female relatives and their friends to the show. Although they have your best intentions at heart, just remember that the more people you have with you, the more people you have to keep track of, the more opinions you’ll receive, and the more people you might feel like you have to please. We like to suggest to our brides to bring a maximum of 2 or 3 shopping buddies.

During the Show…

6. Go when it’s less busy. Planning your visit around the times when crowds will be smaller, will offer you more vendor one-on-one time. It can be difficult to really learn about the vendor and their services when you are fighting with hundreds of other brides for their attention. Bridal shows taking place from Friday to Sunday are generally least busy on Friday evening and Sunday morning, with the busiest time being Saturday morning to afternoon.

7. Leave the stilettos at home! If you don’t remember anything else from our list, remember this - make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you walk around the bridal shows. Some of the venues are large, and you’ll be walking and standing for several uninterrupted hours. The last thing you need is a huge blister or foot injury that prevents you from getting that amazing deal you had your eye on!

8. Only bring the bare essentials. Most bridal shows will provide you with a goodie bag for you to store all the business cards, pamphlets, and samples that the vendors give out. Minimize your purse contents before you leave the house, your shoulders will be thanking you by the end of the day! Just don’t forget to bring a pen and some paper to jot down important notes from your vendor interactions and bring a camera to take pictures of some of the cool centre piece ideas, cakes and dress samples!

9. Enjoy the day. Focusing on the stress of planning a wedding is sure to cast a grey cloud over the experience – you should be enjoying the process and having fun! Why don’t you go out for lunch, dinner, or cocktails after your tour of the bridal show with those special ladies that helped you out? It’s the perfect excuse to discuss how the day went, new ideas for your wedding, or just relax after the day is over. Cheers!

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