15 Tips for Navigating Your Way Through a Bridal Show

Luxemi is pumped to be meeting brides at the Dulhania Bazaar Wedding Expo this Sunday in the Chicagoland Area.  With over 70 vendors and thousands of attendees, we can’t imagine being a bride who needs to maximize her time at the show without feeling overwhelmed.  We thought it only fitting that today’s guest post be a guide to navigating your way through a bridal show.

Today’s post comes to us from Preeti, the founder of one of our favorite blogs, The Big Fat Indian Wedding.

15 Tips to Navigate Your Way Through a Bridal Show
Bride-to-be, you’re attending your first wedding show.  Congrats!  But now you’re wondering what you need to know and do besides eating free cake, at the show.

Here’s a guide to pre-planning, attending, and post reconnaissance when attending a bridal expo:

Preplanning
Figure out what you need
Before even looking at the list of companies attending the show, check what you need first.  Do you have your photographer, cake, caterer, clothes, jewelry sets, etc?   Now, what’s missing?

Know Thy Vendors
Check the list of vendors attending the show on the expo website.  Use the ‘what’s missing’ list you made, match up vendors and those missing categories.

Pack a Notebook & Pen
Even if you’re an iPhone/Blackberry girl, bring a notebook and pen.
Make Labels
You will be filling in your name, address, email, a zillion times whenever you are at wedding shows.  Do yourself a favor and print out that information on address labels.  Time saved is time earned to speak to potential companies!
Get Cash
Some vendors maybe selling small accessory products like hair products, bindis, and things you can use as a bride.  They may take only cash so keep a few twenties with you.
Checkbook or Checkmate: Be aware
Pack your checkbook in case you want to make any larger purchases.  BUT, if you sign up with a vendor and give a check on the spot, READ the terms before doing anything.
The best is to tell the vendor you really want their services but would like to schedule an appointment after the show.  This gives you time to discuss with your family, review the terms and negotiate the best price (which could be the bridal show discount).
Find a friend
Going by yourself or even with a MIL isn’t as fun.  Okay, actually, I went to a bridal show with my future MIL a few years ago and we both learned a lot about each other.  Plus, she was officially sold on having the wedding in India than in Sweden after seeing the prices!  We enjoyed champagne and getting my makeup done.  It was great.
Still, grab one or two friends who know your taste, know how to budget, and understand weddings.
When there
Go Early
Don’t sleep in.  Get to the event early when people are fresh and ready to chat.
Take LOTS of Photos
Yes, take photos.  Take LOTS of photos to give yourself inspiration and ideas.  Love a color?  Take a photo.  Love a place setting?   Take a photo.  Be sure you’re able to match the company to the photo; you don’t want to be stressing out after what caterer designed the centerpieces.
Some people say you should ask the vendor if you can take a photo of their stuff.  As a photographer myself, unless you are going to sell those photos (which is another ballgame), don’t ask.  The last thing a vendor wants to hear a hundred times, is “can I take a photo of your place setting?”

And if a vendor tells you not to take photos, then they really shouldn’t be at a wedding show because they’re scared of something (they can’t deliver in real life perhaps).

Talk to Vendors 
Duh, talk to the vendors you’re interested in.  Don’t worry about taking the free cookies and feeling obliged to talk to them; they’re giving the cookies away for free.
Do spend a few minutes about general information with a vendor.  See what the chemistry is like when under pressure with lots of people around.
Make notes on papers you receive
Use your friends to collect the vendor packets and papers and jot down quick notes.  “I meet Maria: brown hair, purple shirt. Great personality … Met Jon, rude …  Met Zoe, great jewelry, bit quirky, has nothing online.”
Book appointments
Those vendors that you like and want to discuss further details?  Make an appointment.  This is definitely something to schedule on your phone calendar because you could get quickly booked up.
No big purchases on the spot
Many vendors will be offering discounts for brides who sign up at the show or within a week of the show.  Whatever you do, don’t give a check for $1000 or even $5000 for services you haven’t done your research on.
A vendor who pushes you to buy on show day only isn’t interested in you, he/she is interested in the sale.
If there is a vendor you fall in love with, talk to them, get some pricing and set up an appointment.  This way, you can sleep on it and decide a couple days later if it really was love at first sight.
After the show
Review notes and packages you receive
Go over with your friends about what you thought of each vendor you met.  You can get color creative and use a green marker for “like,” orange for “maybe” an red for “no way.”  Then discuss your findings with the respected family members.
Appointments – Keep or drop?
You may realize after reviewing everything you want to add or drop appointments.  Do this as soon as possible so your scheduling can be rearranged.
And of course, have lots of fun!  
Preeti is the founder and blogger of The Big Fat Indian Wedding.  She loves mixed ethnic weddings and putting a twist onto wedding styles.  Visit her site for South Asian wedding inspiration.
Got more questions? We’ve got answers! Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re in the Chicagoland area this Sunday, stop by the Dulhania Bazaar between 11-5 at the Renaissance Marriott in Schaumburg!  Don’t forget about Luxemi’s Wedding Concierge Service – for more details, visit http://www.luxemi.com or email us!

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