We have been planning our wedding for nearly a year and since I hope to only do this once, I’ve wanted to really take advantage of it. Something I was looking forward to and thought would be really fun was wedding trade shows. In my head I saw give-a-ways, free samples, tons of displays for inspiration and champagne.
Up until May, we were living in downtown Chicago and I had the opportunity to attend several wedding events with Chicago Social. I teamed up with my co-worker who was married this past August and we headed out on the town.
Our first couple of events were slightly disappointing. While the locations were gorgeous (James Hotel for one), there were only about 10-15 vendors. We’d enter the grand prize drawing and walk around the venue, but it would only take about 20 minutes. I had just envisioned such a grand affair!
Then, right before we left Chicago, we hit the motherload. I was given free tickets to the biggest bridal show in Chicago. This was what I had pictured – gorgeous hotel, fabulous food, desert stations, beautiful invitation displays, makeup artists freshening up your look, photo booths and…champagne! It was wonderful. The night even concluded with a Vera Wang fashion show and ENORMOUS swag bag. It took me an entire hour to get through the bag when I got home. I highly recommend this annual bridal show for any girls that live in Chicago or near.
Now my fiance and I live in Boulder, CO and I was feeling a bit out of the wedding spirit because I did very little planning this summer. So when I received an email promoting a giant bridal show in Denver, I asked my friend (and amazing videographer!) to join me. Talk about opposites. While there were some decent vendors at the show, and so many more booths than any of the shows I attended in Chicago, the overall feel of the show was cheesy in comparison. The fashion show was sponsored by David’s Bridal and I definitely felt more pressured to buy something here than I ever had before. And to top it off – I have been fielding sales calls disguised as contest winnings all week! I now understand why several brides have warned about giving out your contact information.
So here, lovely brides, are my 3 tips for attending a bridal show.
1. Sometimes less is more – the first few shows I attended did not have that many vendors, but I never felt pressured and in hindsight, it was a good way to start my wedding planning.
2. Quality over Quantity – When it comes to Vera Wang vs. David’s Bridal there is no comparison! Now, I cannot afford Vera Wang, but I would much rather get inspiration from couture fashion design.
3. Create a wedding specific email address and do not give out your cell phone number – Odds are you will not win the grand prize, but you still have to play to have a chance. Give them your email, but since it is specific to your wedding, you will be able to delete it when all the planning is over.
Good luck to any brides that are planning their weddings. Navigating the giant bridal industry can be intimidating. Make sure you have fun planning the wedding of your dreams, not someone else’s.