don't skip the expos.
I have been engaged for four months now. And in that time, I have searched across apps, websites, instagram pages and forums to find vendors of all kinds for our wedding. Oh, what vendors you ask? Welp there's the venue, the cater, the florist, the DJ, the musician, the officiant, the rental guys, the photographer, the wedding planner, and oh so much more. Needless to say, I was drowning in information.
Then my brilliant mother saw a boosted Facebook ad for an upcoming bridal expo in a castle outside of Raleigh and she hit me up.
"Ooo Ashlei, what do you think of this?"
Now as a control-freak...uhhh I mean, someone who enjoys doing things in a very particular way, I was slightly skeptical of the idea. But seeing how I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my deep web diving I gave her the thumbs up. I wouldn't be able to attend due to work so my mom was a champ and went on my behalf.
And let me tell you! She had a blast!
She recounted how there was cake, food, photographers, and musicians galore. She took samples, business cards and even had vendors at the event do cute video clips of their services just for me. And then she told me about how there were giveaways throughout the whole night. I was convinced. I needed to go to a wedding expo!
And you know what? There's at least one of these bad boys every month somewhere! I found a calendar of expo/shows in my area on this cute wedding website called "Here Comes The Guide." (This site is such a great starting point when you get engaged! Go check it out.)
Most of these shows cost little to nothing to attend. The first expo we selected to attend together was the Georgia Bridal & Wedding Expo happening in downtown Atlanta. At the door it would be only $10 to get in, but if you pre-registered online you could get the tickets for free. Boo-yaa! The next expo that we selected was the Southern Noir Weddings Bridal Experience in downtown Raleigh, NC. Now this one cost a little more, but we decided to go all out and purchase the VIP experience for $70 (total for 2 tickets) that included brunch, mimosas and additional goodies. We even double dated with my god-sister Jaslynn and her mother Shelia since she is getting married later this year as well.
My takeaways from the two bridal expos and shows.
#1. Make a "contact info" label.
Yall. My hands were cramping by the end of each event! Each vendor you meet will have sign up sheets asking for your contact information. Now at first, I was putting my info down for everything! And then after I had to shake my fingers to get the blood flowing again, I started getting picky. As I was scribbling my name on what was probably the hundredth sheet, I looked a couple rows up and saw that someone had made a label with all of her contact details. Oh, I was jelly. Why hadn't I thought of that!?! So take it from me, head to Target and get some labels; find a cute business card template online and add your new wedding email, number as well as your expected wedding date. (Make sure you include you and your groom's name!)
#2. Enter to win!
Giveaways are life (as I mentioned in my previous blog post!). Keep your ears open to the many giveaways happening at these events. If the individual vendors aren't doing something, at the very minimum the event will have some sort of contest or drawing. During a raffle, after an amazing fashion show at the Southern Noir Weddings' Bridal Experience, my ticket's number was pulled and I won an Engagement Video experience from AO&JO Photography & Videography!
#3. Prep with a bridal "shopping list."
You know how you can't go to Target or Walmart without walking out with like an extra 10, 20 things? That's how it is with these shows. If you want to be strategic and set yourself a on mission, making a short list of the types of services you need is highly recommended. Otherwise, you'll be wondering around aimlessly from one table to the next collecting a good 20 pounds worth of pamphlets, bridal magazines and business swag items. The further along you are with your wedding planning, the shorter your bridal shopping list should be!
#4. Turn the event into a party.
Invite your bridesmaids, your mother and even the groom to come to these events with you! The experience drastically changes when you have someone else there to judge the over-the-top floral arrangements, jump in the photo booth with, or to ooOOoo and ahh at the gorgeous gowns during the fashion shows. Remember to keep it fun and try not to get overwhelmed by the many vendors that can be at these events.
#5. Separate your goods.
You will get A LOT of information during these things. After the event and once you have lugged your loot back home, take some time to go through everything that you received. Create a yes, maybe and no pile. Everything in the "no pile" should be tossed immediately. That includes those companies that are well out of your price-range or you absolutely will not need to use for your wedding. Your "maybe pile" are the companies that had you on the fence; you kinda like them but you're not completely sold on it. And then you have your "yes pile." For the items you place in these categories, right then and there add the information into your wedding binder, onto vision board or input into digital files.
For that bride-to-be that has made it your mission to plan your wedding without a coordinator (just like me), I hope that these few tips will go a long way. I am so stoke to go to my next expo! In fact, I think I just make it a monthly thing. One bridal show a month isn't too much of a stretch, and the potential of winning amazing giveaways is just the sprinkles on top that make it worth the trip!
Best of luck my gems and #happyplanning.