Wedding fairs can be a bit overwhelming – my first fair experience was just a week after getting engaged… In hindsight it was a terrible idea and one of the few bad decisions we made throughout our entire 18 month engagement! Bless my now husband – I was having an operation a couple of weeks after we got back from holiday, obviously I didn’t know we’d return engaged, so Dan booked some tickets for me to get a wedding fix before I was bed bound. In we walked to, “Congratulations! When are you getting married? Have you bought your dress? Booked a venue? Found your photographer?… The list of questions went on and on, and the longer we stayed there the more I felt guilty for wasting suppliers time, and came away feeling rubbish with absolutely no idea about what I wanted from our wedding. Obviously that changed and if I could go back 1) maybe wouldn’t have gone! and 2) I’d shamelessly grab all the free cake without a care in the world!
I was inspired to put this post together after visiting The Wedding Fairs at the ExCel in London this weekend and had a wonderful time – not surprising really because this time there was no stress or pressure attached! I got chatting to lots of lovely suppliers and brides, a few of them were newly engaged and it was their first wedding fair. If you’re taking a day out to go to a wedding fair you should enjoy yourself and hopefully these tips will help!
Set up a wedding email
If you’re planning a wedding and haven’t set up a new wedding email account go do it now! You will send and receive A LOT of wedding related emails and will probably sign up to lots of suppliers that you won’t be that interested in hearing from after your big day. Gmail is a good option, they rarely get blocked or accidentally end up in junk mail.
No need to feel overwhelmed
You’ll be taking a day out to attend the fair and your time is precious so go with a plan. Have a think about what you still need to get sorted or the things that are priorities (remember not everything can make the top of the list!). Maybe want to look at photographers, or really want to decide on the type of cake you want. Make a beeline for those stalls and get chatting. If you have something booked already walk past the stalls no matter how pretty they look – you’ll only second guessing every decision you’ve already made!
Keep your goal in mind – of course you can still do a little bit of window shopping, but having a plan of action with hopefully stop you from walking around aimlessly and looking a bit lost!
Who should you take to a wedding fair?
This one is easy – take anyone you want!
– Make it a girly day out and go along with your mum, sister(s), bridesmaids or bridesmen. Lots of of the established wedding fairs offer VIP tickets – with this you get a to book a seat for a fashion show and access to the VIP area. Walking around for hours on end can be tiring so it’s nice to know you can take a break and sip on some prosecco while you look through all the treats in your goody bag!
– Your fiancé/e – some brides-to-be think their other half wouldn’t want to go to a wedding fair, but you might be pleasantly surprised. I found that my mr had very strong thoughts on some aspects of our celebration, had great ideas and asked suppliers questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask. Remember it’s his wedding day too, so he should get involved in fun parts of the research and planning.
– On your own? While this may not seem that much fun, and because you won’t have help to carry stuff (you’ll pick up a trees worth of paper at fairs!), going solo is a nice way to chat and get to know suppliers. Suppliers won’t have to spilt their attention, it’ll be easy for you to get to the front to pick up a leaflet, take a photo or pick up some cake and you won’t have to worry about losing your buddy!
Suppliers spend a lot of money to exhibit at wedding fairs so of course their aim is to drum up some business – but times have changed and suppliers don’t really go for the hard sell anymore. Suppliers you meet with usually been in the industry for a year or more – ask them questions, flick through albums and have a feel and taste of their products. Don’t feel pressured, just see it as window shopping, but pick up the leaflets and keep hold of the exhibition guide in case you want to contact them afterwards.
Discounts & prizes
Suppliers often run promotions and competitions at wedding fairs and this is exactly the reason you set up your shiny new wedding email! Every thing is up for grabs – want to win your wedding photography, a free dress or fireworks? Enter all the competitions you can, it only takes a minute or two and someone’s got to win, so why not you? Plus, even if you aren’t the lucky winner you might get a nice discount from the supplier to help out with the budget, any saving, no matter how small can make a big difference!
Booking and buying at wedding fairs
Talking of discounts… there are lots of ‘this weekend only’ offers at wedding fairs. If you’re 100% certain the product ticks all the boxes and is the best you’ve seen go ahead sign on the dotted line, but make sure you’re not booking because you want it out of the way. There’s a lot to plan for a wedding and it can get stressful, but rushed decisions are the worst and you’ll almost always regret them. You can even buy your wedding dress(samples of course) at fairs, the same applies – if you fall in love then woohoo, if not have fun trying on pretty dresses and come away with a better idea of what you want. Just don’t feel pressured to buy – dress wobbles are real people and you don’t need the extra stress.
There’s sometimes the option to book into creative workshops. There was an incredible craft corner run by the fabulous Creative Brides at The Wedding Fairs full of confetti and fab poms poms and accessories – I was super jealous of all the girls making pretty floral crowns (they looked great walking round in them!). Suppliers are a wealth of knowledge and talent so if you’re looking to pick up a new skill – maybe you’re thinking of creating your own bouquet or DIY-ing some decor – then booking onto a class would be a great activity.
Beauty, hair and makeup
Every bride wants to be at their most beautiful on their wedding day, but until you try a product or that a particular hair style with that exact lip colour you’ll never know if it’s really for you. Cue hair and make up artists… At a wedding fair you can book a slot and pay around £10 – 20 to have your hair and/or makeup done which is great if you’re still looking for someone to help you on the big day – or maybe you plan to hit the town after the show and just want to be pampered. Depending on the show you might be able to buy big brand names (like Benefit) or try out teeth whitening. If you’re interested the only way to find out if it works is to try, just not too close to the wedding though!
If you’re heading to a wedding fair I hope it’s useful, but most of all just have fun!