Making the most of wedding fairs

Published date: 15th February 2019

Once started on wedding planning you quickly learn you need vast amounts of information. Unless you have unlimited funds you’ll be looking for value for money. Unless you’re one of those brides who have been planning the day since primary school, you’ll be looking for ideas. A wedding fair, or fayre, is a great way to do both in a relatively short time.

There’s stuff to do before you get to the venue that makes a difference to how successful and enjoyable the event is. Firstly, if you can book tickets in advance, do so. It saves queuing, registering, and time, and as some fairs offer online discounts, it saves money too.

Even before you book tickets you have a decision to make: who goes with you? If your groom is happy to do so (mention possible lingerie catwalk shows), that’s ideal – as we keep stressing, the planning needs to be shared; otherwise, a close friend, or if relationships are good enough, your mother and/or future mother-in-law. You really need a companion for moral support, to make it fun, and be a steadying influence if you’re prone to temptation.

At the show many exhibitors offer prize draws. To save writing your name, address, email and phone number innumerable times, take printed labels. At the very big events held in vast exhibition centres you may need more than 200 of these! Even the more intimate local shows are likely to see you peeling off 50 or more. A tip we saw recently made great sense here – set up an email address just for wedding stuff, to keep info together and so the inevitable bombardment won’t fill your normal account.

As so often preparation yields dividends. Have you worked out a budget yet (if not, why not?)? If that is broken down by item, it can save time – why attend a show of designer dresses costing £10,000 when your budget for a gown is £600? With a small (and suitably light) file containing that information, colour swatches, and pictures from wedding magazines and websites you have the necessary starting points to chat to exhibitors of interest. A prioritised tick-list of services or products you need to source is also useful.

Now a lifesaver. As will be the case on your wedding day, you’ll be on your feet for hours. Wear comfy shoes. And dress comfortably too: you don’t have to impress anyone with elegance, but salespeople will warm to you more if you’re relaxed and fresh.

Finally we are at the fair. Work to your hit-list, but don’t close your eyes to new things. There will be innovations and novelties that spark ideas, even if you don’t go further on the day than taking note of them. Jot down the timings of any shows that interest you, and plan to be around when they run.

This may sound daft before you go, but some visitors are shy, and wander for hours without talking to anyone. The people on the booths and tables are there to talk. Walk up and introduce yourself and you’ll be chatting in seconds. In the customary big carrier bag presented on arrival at the door, or that a friendly exhibitor provides early on, put sales leaflets and business cards of interest, but only after you make notes on them: how they seemed, why you liked them (if you didn’t, dump it), what ideas interested you… Without notes the faces and names will soon jumble, and you’ve wasted the day.

You may be presented with tempting deals to sign there and then. Our advice would be to say you’ll think about it as you go round and will come back if after reflection you want to put pen to paper. Some companies really have special offers designed to show an immediate return on the cost of the show. Others – happily not that many – are just pushy. To keep your judgement keen btw we’d also advise just one glass of fizz all day (sorry), and to drink water to keep you hydrated the rest of the time.

The most important tip of all, it should almost go without saying, is to make the most of the day, and that means you really should have fun. Happy hunting.

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