5 Tips for enjoying your first Wedding Expo!
Updated: Feb 4
No one really knew what the 2020 Engagement Season would hold. In a year of unpredictability, would couples still get engaged? What does the future hold for weddings and wedding planning? Well, you all turned out safely and in full force! I think we all need something to look forward to! Now with only one popular engagement date left (you guessed it...Valentine's Day), couples are beginning their wedding planning journey.
So, you get engaged...now what? If you start wedding planning right away, you will likely create an account on a wedding website and begin saving inspiration photos. Maybe you pick up a few bridal magazines or maybe you start googling venues in the area. At first all of your ideas are kind of floating around in this dreamy inspiration cloud until you take some solid steps like selecting a venue and a date.
Around this time, a wedding expo or show near you will likely pop onto your radar...because let's be real, if you've googled or posted ANYTHING about your engagement, the internet knows and has you pegged. A wedding expo is a GREAT way to collect information, meet qualified vendors and have a little fun with your planning process. It can also be extremely overwhelming. So, couples...take heart. We are here for you. Read this, take notes and send to all your engaged friends before you step into that ballroom!
1. Keep your squad small
If you read any of my wedding planning advice, you will see this theme throughout your process. The more people you bring along, the more opinions you will hear - even if your guys/gals are trying to help. The more opinions you have, your own vision that was once clear can become cloudy. I would suggest bringing at max 2 or 3 trusted friends/family that are committed to supporting you and your wedding expo goals (see tip #2). In order to keep focus, you also might want to avoid bringing other engaged (or wanting to be engaged) friends...it's okay to be a little selfish in order to have a good experience. It doesn't make you a Bridezilla.
2. Establish your goal(s) ahead of time
Sure, part of the fun is just walking around and seeing what happens but trust me that these things can get overwhelming FAST. In order to avoid immediate panic, it is important to think about what you want out of the experience. Now I'm not suggesting you print the vendor layout and plot your exact path through the 200 plus vendor displays, but a little consideration ahead of time can go a long way.
Maybe you've found your venue and photographer but want to meet some options for your DJ and desserts. Maybe you haven't found your venue yet...venues also attend shows to accommodate couples in all stages of planning. Maybe you have a vision for a unique wedding favor and want to see if any detail vendors can help pull it off. Just make a list of some vendor categories you would like to explore and COMMUNICATE the plan to your attending friends. This way you won't have your Maid of Honor chatting up a gourmet cake bakery for 20 minutes when you have your heart set on a donut wall.
If you really want to just wing it, my tip is to attend wedding expos at two different times of your engagement. Once when you are first gathering ideas and inspiration and then also when you have specific items or vendors to find.
3. Create contact labels
You will likely be talking to a multitude of vendors and signing up to receive a quote, more information or register for a giveaway. Your hand (and your brain) may start to hurt after awhile. I suggest creating stick on labels with your name, email, wedding date and venue (if selected). Avery brand labels have free online templates for Microsoft Word. Just match the label number on the box to the online template to create sheets you can print at home.
Remember...this is why you are attending - to create relationships with possible businesses and vendors that can help you through your planning journey. This means gathering contact information AND giving yours out. Yes, you may get some mass emails but it's not a bad thing! Many vendors run specials and promote them to their email lists. Some couples even choose to create a special wedding planning email account to avoid clutter in their regular email inbox. However you choose to keep in contact, the follow up is often key to securing the appropriate vendors to realize your vision.
4. Take a break!
Many Wedding Expos take place right in the middle of the day. Take my advice, DON'T COME HUNGRY. Get the event on your friend's calendars in advance to make a day of it. Meet for brunch ahead of time! Many expos take place at hotels, so get there early and grab a bite to eat at an onsite restaurant first. This way you can avoid the parking rush right before the event (be sure to check not only the event start time but the early bird entry start time). Also, plan some time to take a break. Leave the ballroom for a bathroom break and a cup of coffee (again, most hotel locations may have a small Starbucks or gourmet coffee stand). Take a seat for the wedding fashion show to rest for a minute! The point is, don't try to do the wedding show hangry and uncomfortable. Your feet and your crew will thank you later!
5. Organize and Follow Up
As I mentioned before, most the vendors that you connect with WILL follow up with you, so expect that. But if you were really jazzed by a conversation you had with someone, why wait? Figure out your own way to set aside business cards and collateral of your favorite vendors. Maybe keep a special envelope in your purse to quickly drop the really good cards in or mark them with a pen or sticker. When you get home, separate out the vendors you want to keep in touch with. Email, call, whatever you feel comfortable with, to let them know you are interested in learning more. Trust me, they will appreciate your effort. Plus, you never know when they might extend an offer your way. Personally I have hand selected EXTRA prize winners from couples I had a good conversation with.
You can also purchase a fun little business card holder to keep your business cards in. I suggest using something like this once you have decided on your vendor for each category. It will help you keep everything together and organized. Once you book, you can also ask your vendors for a few extra cards from them. You can give them out to friends who are interested in their services as well. Wedding vendors appreciate word of mouth referrals because it means we get more couples as wonderful as you are!
Most importantly, have a great time! Have some belly laughs with your closest friends or your spouse. Dare I say, enjoy being the center of attention? Go in with a plan but an open mind. Be humble and to receiving expert advice from event professionals. Graciously accept congratulations and take the opportunity to gab extensively about your plans. Any good wedding vendor will love to hear your story. It is still a strange time but your vendors and show operators are taking many precautions to make sure that everyone feels safe and comfortable.
Come see Your Favorite Day at the Florida Wedding Expo on Sunday, February 28th at the Orange County Convention Center from 12pm-5pm. We are doing FREE 5 minute planning sessions and honoring fantastic discounts on our services!
Send me an email for $8.00 tickets! firstname.lastname@example.org