Attending a big bridal show like the Bridal Extravaganza or Houston Wedding Showcase, is pretty much a right of passage for Houston brides-to-be. You'll get to meet lots of wedding professionals, sample tons of cake, enjoy fashion shows and hear from amazing speakers! But if you're not sure what to expect, you may likely find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of it. Here are a few tips for attending with ease, from a Houston Wedding Planner who's been in a Bride's shoes.
1. Create a wedding email before you attend
I ALWAYS recommend that my couples create an email address just for wedding planning, regardless if they’re attending an expo. This way your personal accounts don’t get bogged down with wedding emails long after you’ve said your “I dos”!
2. Bring 2 tote bags, or utilize bags you receive at the show
Start your expo adventure with a plan to stay organized!
Bag 1: Use this tote to keep the business cards of vendors you love and are interested in working with. You can also use this bag to hold any goodies you want to keep from the show.
Bag 2: Use this bag to keep the cards of vendors you don’t anticipate using, junk materials, and other random things you can toss afterwards. Essentially, any items you took from vendors as a “courtesy”.
Having two separate tote bags will prevent you from trying to remember which vendors you liked the next day. If you don't have two bags, consider bringing a Ziplock bag for the business cards of those extra-special vendors you meet.
Pro tip: The big formal wear retailers almost always give a free tote bag, so don’t fret if you forget to bring two!
3. Be prepared to make appointments and down payments
If you know what vendors you still need, come prepared to schedule consultations with the ones who you connect with. More often than not, wedding pros will extend discounts and specials to couples who book on the spot, or within a particular timeframe of the show!
4. Bring a few friends and wear the stickers
How many opportunities will you have to wear “Bride, Groom, and Maid of Honor” stickers with your friends? Bring a few people along to help you stay on track and remember which vendors you loved, but try to avoid bringing a group of more than 3 or 4. A standard booth is only 8’x8’, so if you have a huge group of people, they may have to stand in the already crowded aisles until you’re done talking with the vendors.
5. Dress comfortably, eat lunch, and stay hydrated
It takes roughly 2-3 hours to walk through most large-scale wedding shows, so now is not the best time to break in your new heels. After the first 30 minutes of walking on concrete floors you’re going to FEEL it! Another way to ensure you stay comfortable is to eat a light lunch before you head in, and bring a water bottle! There are snacks and beverages to purchase (at convention center prices), but you’ll be much more willing to walk the aisles for a few hours with a full stomach!
6. Utilize labels, but don’t stick them to everything
Labels pre-filled with your wedding and contact info are great for cutting down on the number of inquiry forms you’re filling out by hand. Most shows offer these complementary.
What you don’t want to do, is stick your label on every inquiry form you see! This is probably the opposite of what most vendors will tell you, but as a Houston Wedding Planner who's attended as a bride. . . Seriously. If you’re not at all interested in what service that vendor provides, there is no need to put down your information - not every booth gives away a prize, so be sure to check! You’ll end up on more phone and email lists than you’ll ever need!
7. Take photos & videos of what you love
Make sure your phone is fully charged! Not only will you want to take some fun photos of you and your entourage, but it’s a good idea to take a quick photo of any vendor booths or inspiration you love! You may have cards from 4 different photographers in your “love” bag, but the next day after all the chaos, seeing a photo of the booth can help you remember who was who.
8. Take your time to talk to the vendors, and don’t be afraid to circle back
If you’re interested in services from a wedding professional, take your time and ask them questions! We’re there because we want to connect with you and help make your wedding day perfect. If you think of more questions you’d like to ask, be sure to circle back around! Don’t feel embarrassed or like you’re intruding- you’ll probably make the vendor’s day knowing you remembered and enjoyed your experience with them!
9. Follow up with the vendors you love
If you’re just in love with a vendor you meet at the show, send them an email or text! That way you’ll be at the top of their priority list and won’t miss out on any time-sensitive promotions they have after the show
10. We'll see you there!
Water to Wine Events will be at the Houston Bridal Extravaganza, July 13 & 14th in booth 637. We can't wait to see you, and help you plan your day!