So a couple of weekends ago, Mr. 3 and I went on a whirlwind adventure visiting venues out of town. While out and about I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the local bridal show. I wasn't expecting much, because it's a small city. However, since I'm not from the area, I decided it would be worth it to go if for no other reason than to be able to talk to a bunch of photographers all at once and look through their books. I've also always thought it was silly to charge brides a fee to come in and look around when the purpose of the event is to earn more money. Regardless, I decided to check it out (don't worry I left Mr. 3 behind, I try not to torture him tooooo much with wedding stuff). After going, I think Bridal Shows are totally worth it because:
1. Vendors offer discounts: Vendors see bridal shows as a way to drum up a lot of business all at once and book their events for the following year. One way to get a bride interested is to offer a small discount. For example, I will take a look at every single photographer that offered a discount at the bridal show and I'm doing some stalking online now to check them out. The discounts may be as small as 10%, which may not sound like a lot until you realize that the cheapest photography package I've seen is $1,200. That's $120 that you can apply elsewhere...like shoes. I also saw discounts as much as 50% off photography packages if you booked within the next two weeks. Men's Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank offered tuxedo rental discounts as well.
2. Vendors hand out pricing information: It is a pain to have to email/call everybody and their granny to find out pricing information for services. Some vendors are extremely reluctant to even tell you what the prices are even if you email/call because they want you to get meet in person so that they can suck you in with their sales pitch. However, bridal shows are all about handing out the info so that you will give them a call back. All the photographers had package information to give out, so I saved myself the trouble of having to email about 5 different vendors.
3. Vendors sponsor giveaways: Although I didn't win anything this time, I went to a bridal show a few years ago with a best friend and I won a $500 gift certificate to the plastic surgeon's office (I got some spider veins lasered off, thank you very much - no botox here). While we were at the show I saw brides win: choice of either wedding bands or a honeymoon stay, free makeup, salon services, nail services, gift certificates to bridal salons, and a free LCD TV. You didn't have to purchase raffle tickets, but it was a great little perk for the lucky girls who won!
4. Vendors offer samples and freebies: In my small swag haul, I received a small bouquet of about 5 roses from a florist (so pretty!), chocolates, and mints. All the caterers had a spread of food including cheesecake lollipops, tea sandwiches, chocolate mousse cups, homemade potato chips, fruit, cheese and crackers, and veggie trays to name a few. If you did drag your sweetie to the bridal show, he should be able to cope by making his way through all the samples.
5. Opportunities to ask questions and gauge someone's personality: Besides the really valuable pricing information, I thought this was the best part of the bridal show. I got to ask several questions from the vendors I was interested in and by talking with them I learned a lot about their level of professionalism and personality. For example, I talked to a very sweet photographer who seemed to be reasonably priced. However, both her and her husband were smacking on huge wads of chewing gum during our conversation. I felt that was very unprofessional and I will not be contacting her. I also talked to a florist who will not allow you to bring your own containers. I was not a fan. Most of my containers are going to be from thrift stores or someplace inexpensive like Garden Ridge, so I knew she would definitely not work. I ALSO found another bridal store that carries the line of dresses that I am most interested in trying on. I spoke to the owner and he said that they have been in business for 29 years and he has no intention of closing up shop. He also told me how long it would take to order a dress and that they do not take the manufacturer's tags off or try to cover up the label so you can't go figure out how much the mark up is...mostly because they don't mark their dresses up.
Whether you are getting married in a small town or a big city, I highly suggest that you attend the bridal shows. I got a lot accomplished in about 2 hours of my time and I had a lot of fun doing it! What are your thoughts on bridal shows? Must do or pass?