With the wedding fayre season just around the corner ( it usually runs from January to April and then again in September and October), I thought it would be useful to give some advice on how to make the most of a visit.
A wedding fayre is really a supplier showcase – a great place to meet wedding suppliers in your area and take some of the leg work out of finding what you want. You’ll either find them at venues such as hotels and golf courses or at exhibition centres like the Kings Hall. They are usually held on a Sunday afternoon and most are free to visit although some of the bigger shows charge a few pounds entry.
Getting the most out of a wedding fayre depends on which stage of the planning process you are in. If you are just starting to put together your plans then a wedding fayre is a great place to start! Use them as a source of inspiration to see what is out there and to figure out what you would like to include. Use them to help you figure out your budget – make a note of how much the things you like might cost and when they need to be paid for so that you can figure out your spending.
If you are further into wedding planning with the date booked and the countdown started, then wedding fayres are even more useful to you, especially if you are ready to start making decisions and book suppliers and services for your big day.
Wedding fayres can be busy and even overwhelming with too many choices but if you visit armed with my top tips you can definitely make them work for you.
- Have a plan of what you want to achieve and who you want to see. If you know you need to find a photographer then make a beeline for them first so that you don’t accidentally miss them. Prioritise your time and make sure you leave the wandering around aimlessly until the end.
- Use them as a source of inspiration. You’ll see all kinds of things at wedding fayres so be open minded and let the experts guide you.
- Get there early. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a wedding fayre just as all the exhibitors are packing up, so try to get there just before the doors open. That way you’ll not only avoid the crowds but you’ll get the most out of the exhibitors who’ll be fresh and ready to help you.
- Before you get there set up a special email account for your wedding planning so that you can happily give out your contact details to wedding suppliers without worry of clogging up your inbox.
- Bring along a notebook to scribble down the details of companies whose stuff you like or the kinds of things you’d like to include on your big day. If you have a wedding planning folder bring it too so that you can slide in the business cards of vendors you are interested in.
- Know when you’d like to get married. You’ll be asked when the wedding is more than a few times so even if you haven’t booked your big day yet at least have an idea of the time of year. Every company that asks that question will immediately be figuring out if they have enough time to source what you need.
- Don’t be shy – if you are interested in a product or service and want more information don’t be afraid to approach the suppliers and ask questions.
- Be ready to be approached – businesses that exhibit at wedding shows can pay a lot of money to be there, so from their point of view they’ll want to make that expenditure worthwhile. Don’t be surprised when you’re approached or someone tries to make eye contact. Be polite and take interest in what they are offering you. Some suppliers can be pushy though, so don’t be afraid to say you aren’t interested in what they are selling.
- Get a seat for the fashion show – some last half an hour or longer so you’ll be glad that you found somewhere to perch.
- Enter the competitions – you might win something amazing but even if you don’t it’s useful to get your name on the mailing list for wedding suppliers as they might send you email newsletters and details of other offers.
- Talk to other brides! Everyone is there for the same reason so do some networking. Speak to the girl sat beside you at the fashion show or in the queue for a coffee – it’s a great idea to share tips and recommendations with each other.
- If the show you want to attend charges admission, take advantage of the deals that are available for buying your ticket in advance. Some such as the Wedding Journal Show even offer free tickets when you buy an issue of their magazine. Others such as the Ulster Bride show give out free tickets to exhibitors who quite often give them away via their facebook pages in the weeks before the show.
- If someone picks you out of the crowd and offers you the chance for a bridal makeover don’t be afraid to go for it! They are so much fun!
- If you already have your dresses sorted skip the fashion show and take advantage of the aisles being quieter and get to chat with the suppliers you are interested in.
- Bring your diary so you can book appointments with suppliers.
- If you have done your research and are ready to book things for your wedding, bring your chequebook and be ready to pay deposits. Lots of companies such as photographers, bands and room decor companies offer discounts if you book them there and then.
- Bring a tote bag or a roomy handbag for carrying all the flyers and literature you’ll pick up.
- Bring a drink – it can be thirsty work especially if you get talking to lots of suppliers, so pop a bottle of water and a snack into your bag.
- Wear comfy shoes – some of the bigger shows can involve a fair bit of walking, and sometimes involve walking outside so bring a coat and a brolly too.
- They might seem like girlie paradise but there’s a lot for grooms to do too! Lots of couples I know have allocated specific tasks to the grooms, such as finding and booking the entertainment, picking the photographer and videographer. So if your fella gets bored looking at dresses send him off to find the perfect cars!