I attended my first bridal show as a bride on Sunday. Prior to my engagement, I only attended bridal shows as a vendor or as a bridesmaid. The most recent bridal show I attended before the one on Sunday was with the wedding venue I used to work for in Baltimore. (*Shameless marketing plug* Check out 1840s Plaza in Baltimore! The venue is gorgeous and the event team is stellar!)
As a vendor, bridal shows are relatively stressful. However, I only had to stress about my booth and my booth only. No other exhibitors bothered me, I was selling the venue instead of buying it, and free samples were not allowed (sometimes). Bridal shows as a bride is COMPLETELY different. I learned a lot and want to share what I learned with each of you.
To help you prepare for your next bridal show as a bride, here are some tips to remember:
Tip #1: Limit the number of people you invite to join you.
Obviously, I loved having some of my best girls, mom, mother-in-law, and fiance there with me. The experience is overwhelming enough, though. Adding 4+ people did not help the feeling of being overwhelmed. The reason it felt this way was because it is already VERY crowded at bridal shows.
Not always, but typically, a large bridal show is going to get crowded. I have been to smaller bridal shows where the crowds were low, too, though. Consider the venue’s size when choosing your entourage. If the bridal show is being held at a convention center, there may be more space for a larger group. If the show is being held in a smaller space, a smaller group is better.
This show was held at the Washington Convention Center in DC. Even though the space was larger, my group was still too big for the venue, unfortunately. Aside from it being crowded, having a large entourage with you can get stressful. At times I felt that I was looking behind me to make sure we didn’t lose anyone. I noticed that some people wanted to see a particular booth while others had their eyes on the cake-tasting booths. I did not care what vendors we visited. I just had trouble keeping track of who was where.
About a year ago, my, now, sister-in-law and I visited this same show. I was a bridesmaid, so I was able to offer opinions when needed and I could help hold her bags, brochures, and hand (if necessary, lol). The trip was just us two. It was a lot less stressful and we covered tons of ground in a short period of time. This Sunday we covered a lot of ground, too; but it felt like a struggle at times. “I suffered from sensory overload,” is an understatement.
With all of that being said, I say limit your trip to about 3-4 people. You can even consider attending more than one bridal show. For the first show, keep it to family. For the second show, choose just your maid of honor and/or one-two bridesmaids. The next show can be close friends, other bridesmaids, etc. I guarantee most of your entourage won’t mind. If you cannot make more than one show, you will not feel as guilty leaving people out if you keep it to family only. I promise your bridesmaids will understand. There are many other activities you can do together to prep for the big day!
Tip #2: Bringing your fiance is not mandatory… for good reason.
I love David. But, bringing him to this bridal show was a mistake lol! Not entirely… For the most part, though, I would say I should have left him home to bond with my brother (his soon-to-be brother-in-law).
David is very into sports. He particularly loves football season. Taking him to the bridal show was mistake number one. Taking him to a bridal show on FOOTBALL SUNDAY… that was the worst mistake of them all. I adore him for humoring me at this bridal show. Despite the fact that he missed kick-off for the 1:00 p.m. games, he didn’t complain much. He was surrounded by SEVEN women (not including the hundreds of women also attending the show). He took photos with us, watched as I filled out unnecessary information for vendors I will not use, and listened to the ladies gab about things he probably could survive without hearing. He was amazing.
I think bringing your fiance is a great idea if it is just the two of you attending. This allows the two of you to bond, share your opinions on wedding plans, and eat cake together. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to include your mother and his mother. Like I said in tip #1, keep the entourage small.
Also, do not take your sports-loving husband-to-be to a bridal show when an important game/match is on. There is no need to do that to the guy. Sorry, David 😉
Tip #3: Make a wedding email account!!!
I cannot stress this tip enough! You WILL be signing up for things at a bridal show. You may think that you won’t, but I promise that you will. Why? Most places quilt trip you into doing it, others require it, and some are too good not to consider providing it.
David and I created a wedding email account about two days after being engaged. We knew that in order to begin the planning process, we had to share our email with vendors, family, friends, and other wedding-related websites in order to keep things moving. Utilize sites like Yahoo and Google to create a free email account. Choose an email that is easy to remember, easy to spell, and with few numbers. We chose clymerwedding@insertemailproviderhere dot com. Simple. To the point. Easy to remember.
When you arrive at the bridal show, one of the first things you will do is register. That requires a name, telephone number, email address, and mailing address. I chose to only disclose my email address, though. I do not need anymore spam in my mailbox.
Once you pass the registration area, you then are inundated with booths to visit. They WILL ask for you to fill out information sheets. There is no doubt about that. If you do not want to, say politely that you are not interested in filling out information. It is kind of an awkward conversation, though. Instead of saying no, I provided my wedding email and gave them a minute of my time. Usually there is an incentive offered such as candy, cake, beads, coupons, etc.
Only give your personal email to anyone you know you can trust. I sometimes give out the wedding email but change the email provider if I do not want to receive info. (Rude of me… but hey, I am entitled to do what I would like, haha.)
Tip #4: Check out the exhibitors beforehand.
What is funny about this tip is that I’ve given it before, but forgot to use it myself. Most, if not all, bridal shows will provide a list of exhibitors that have registered for the event. This helps brides determine if it is worth their time to attend. Usually it is, because come on… free cake. You never know, though. Maybe you are looking for 3 particular vendors to compare. By checking the list, you will know if they will be exhibiting.
Go online. Call the hosts of the show. Do whatever is necessary to obtain an exhibitor list. Then, print out the list and highlight which vendors peak your interest. Your choices do not have to be concrete. You can always visit exhibitors that you didn’t highlight. This will keep you from having to fill out information you are not interested in and saving you a lot of wasted time.
Tip #5: Have fun!
I know this doesn’t seem like a tip of which you need to be reminded… but it is. I had a blast at the bridal show, but I allowed my anxiety and overwhelming moments to interfere with my fun. If you feel stressed, take a trip to the restroom. Allow yourself to calm down and take a breather. It will make a difference.
Grab an extra piece of cake. Take the photo in the photobooth. Show off your ring. Take the “Congratulations!” and embrace it. YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED! Forget the stress, enjoy the show, and have a blast!