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The first thought that comes to mind is be prepared to walk and talk.  The following tips will help you successfully navigate a bridal or wedding trade show.

  • Dress comfortably.  You don’t have to be a fashionista that day.  Be comfortable and wear shoes that won’t bother you to walk in for a few hours on cement floors.  You will most likely be given a plastic or paper bag at the registration desk to put items in, but if you have something else that might be a little more sturdy, bring it.
  • Take a camera or a mobile phone with a built in camera.  You might see something that you absolutely love!
  • Allow yourself a few hours to walk the show and talk to people.  If you have somewhere to be, and you are trying to rush through a show, you may end up more frustrated than when you came in.  Also, be sure any people with you don’t have places to be as well.  You’re last thought should be catering to someone else’s schedule.  You have a job to do, and you’ll need several hours to do it.
  • Take only necessary people with you.  This doesn’t need to be a family event.  Taking your mother/future mother in law, your maid of honor, or your favorite sister with you would be helpful, especially if they are bubbling with excitement for you.  Taking your whiney younger sister who is missing her soccer playoff to be there with you will maybe not turn out so well.  You need positive people around you during this experience, because you’re going to need them to help you.
  • Print out mailing labels prior to the show to use as you register and enter for drawings.  This is going to save you massive amounts of time.  Include the following information:
  • Your first and last name
  • Your fiancés first and last name
  • Your address
  • Telephone number(s)
  • E-mail address(s)
  • And your wedding date, if you know it

You are almost guaranteed to receive mailings and special offers from vendors participating the show weeks and months after the show takes place.  When you receive them, keep them in a safe place in case you need to reference back.

  • Take your planning binder (as mentioned in the “Help!  We just got engaged.  Where do I start?” question also on this site).  Showing up armed with plans and ideas will put you miles ahead of the game.  It also helps you as you talk to vendors and look at ideas.
  • Ask vendors for special offers they give to couples attending the show.  Oftentimes vendors will only offer discounts and specials to couples they meet with at the show.  Ask questions and see how they can help you save money.
  • Walk the entire show.  Try to cover all of it before you decide who you want to talk to first.  Go back through the entire show and stop at the exhibits you are interested in.  Collect business cards, write down names of people you talk to who represent the business, and take notes if needed, of conversations you have.
  • Sample food that looks good.  Touch linens that you like.  Take pictures if the show, or the vendor, allows it.  Get as many ideas as you can to help you in your planning.
  • And finally, try not to feel overwhelmed.  There are guaranteed to be a larger number of vendors participating, and each of them would love your business.  As long as you come to the show prepared, you will leave with more that you came with and you’ll feel more confident about your upcoming wedding plans.

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