With Arizona’a Bridal Show and The Phoenix Bridal show upon us, here are a few tips on going to a bridal show that I have found on-line from Austin Wedding.  According to statistics, bridal shows in the US draw more than 35% of the brides planning weddings with over 6,000 shows occurring each year.

Attending a bridal fair can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience for newly engaged couples. Not only is it convenient to meet a majority of your area vendors all in one place, but it also allows you the opportunity to see what’s hot in the wedding industry that you might have not thought of or even considered. But with dozens and dozens of vendor exhibits, it’s easy for this fun event to quickly turn stressful. Although an indecisive bride or groom can benefit from attending a bridal fair, it’s important to be aware of a few things that can make the experience more enjoyable for you. Use these bridal show tips to make the most of your visit.

Before the event

Create a brand new wedding e-mail account.
Keep your personal email account spam-free by creating a separate wedding e-mail account that can be used specifically for your wedding related communications. This will allow you to request more Information from various wedding vendors without risking your personal privacy. You can also use this email account for your contact Information when you enter wedding contests or promotional drawings. Some couples even use this email address to for their wedding RSVPs. A good tip is to reserve your main e-mail address for vendors you actually contract with.

Pre-register for the show and save time and money.
Most bridal shows will allow you to pre-register for the event well in advance to the actual date of the show. This helps the show get a rough estimate of the number of visitors that plan on attending. Not only does pre-registering allow you to save time from having to fill out all your information at the entrance, but there’s probably a good chance that you can take advantage of discounted ticket prices and early-bird contest drawings.

Bonus Tip: FREE admission
Want to save some money on the admission fee to the show? Check out the vendor list for the show you’re attending. Most vendors receive a number of comp tickets to give away to people interested in their services. Contact a vendor you might be interested in and ask if they have a couple of comps so you can come check them out.

Research area vendors prior to the show
One surefire way to save time during your visit to the bridal show is to research and familiarize yourself with the wedding vendors in your area that are expecting to be exhibiting. You can usually find a list of exhibiting vendors at the official bridal show website. Visit vendor websites to get a feel for their style and range of their prices. This will help you eliminate wasted time by knowing which vendor services are within your price range.

Don’t forget the cost of parking
Most bridal shows are held at event venues designed to accommodate a huge number of attendees, so parking is usually charged for. Remember to bring some cash in case the parking area does not accept debit cards.

Have a game plan
You will have a limited amount of time during the bridal show to visit an overwhelming amount of vendors that could help you on your special day. Before attending the show, make a quick list of the wedding services you need, and an estimated budget for each of them. Having an idea of what wedding services you need and an estimated budget for each of them will help determine which vendors are within your price range and worth spending your time having a  conversation with.

Prepare yourself with pre-printed labels
The main reason for attending the bridal show is to interact and meet possible wedding vendors for your wedding day. Having preprinted labels that include your name, wedding date, wedding location, mailing address and wedding e-mail address that you can quickly give to vendors can help you save time and keep you on schedule. Adding your phone number to your pre-printed labels is not suggested. You can also use them to quickly enter various giveaways and promotions.

Bring your own bag to the show
One thing that is for certain is you will be leaving with a lot of brochures, pamphlets, business cards and promotional information. All of that information can get heavy, so bringing your own bag or carry-all to help tote everything around can be a life-saver.

Quick tip: Bring one large tote bag to store all of the vendor information in which you are truly interested, and have a friend/fiance bring another. When you receive information from a vendor who doesn’t offer something you’d like to learn more about, put it in your friend’s bag. When you get home, you won’t have to sift through a large amount of ads that do not interest you.

Make sure you eat a light meal before attending the show
With all that tasty cake sampling, it’s easy to get a sugar rush and sugar crash if you don’t have something already in your stomach.

Be prepared to wear a “Bride-To-Be” or “Groom” sticker to receive special attention from the vendors.

Some bridal show events will have concessions or food court areas available so don’t forget to bring some extra cash just in case they do not accept debit/credit cards.

Phone Number Bummer
Decide on the proper/specific phone number to give to bridal exhibitors from the show so they can contact you. Calls at work can quickly become annoying so opt to give your home or cell number and request to receive calls during non-work hours.

Allow yourself ample time to be at the show. Be prepared to
stay 2-5 hours.

Bring your date book calendar or digital planner
Trying to remember all those venue open house dates or planning a follow-up tasting or meeting with a potential vendor will surely be easier if you can quickly glance at your immediate availability Come prepared with your calendar and with a good idea of your existing schedule.

Bring a digital camera
With so many vendors presenting in one area, It’s easy for them to all begin to blend together throughout the day. Help yourself remember all of the decorations and ideas that caught your eye by simply taking a quick photograph while roaming the show.

Bring a friend
Share this exciting time during your wedding planning by bringing along either a friend, your fiancé, your mom, future mother in law or bridesmaids, with you to the bridal show. You can surely use the extra help carrying all the information you receive, plus, it’s always nice to have a second opinion. Also, when entering for a giveaway, they’ll be able to add their names too so your group has a greater chance of winning a prize.

Take a pen
As you collect business cards or information pieces you can make a star on the ones you like, so you can remember who’s who when you get home and you can also easily write down the actual names of the vendors you chatted with.

Bring color samples and swatches
It’s easier to coordinate accessories for the bridal party or match the colors of your flower arrangements with wedding cake decor if you bring sample color swatches for vendors to see and make suggestions.

Hot Tip: Keep in mind, the floral arrangements you see in the fall may be quite expensive when it comes to availability in the early spring wedding. So ask questions!

Wear comfortable shoes
The last thing you’ll want to worry about during all the excitement and buzz of the bridal show
is how much your feet hurt from all of your walking around. Wearing comfortable shoes should
be mandatory.

During the show

Avoid the “excitement” sell
Some vendors will have items for purchase at their booth or be offering discounted “one-day-only” specials exclusively for the day of the bridal event. While you certainly can find some great deals from some great vendors, remember that it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the show. The bridal show is an opportunity for you to meet wedding vendors in your area and make arrangements to discuss your wedding in more detail at a later date. Don’t feel pressured or rushed to sign a contract on the day of the bridal event.

Save time by cutting to the chase
Your first question to a vendor should be: Are you available on this date? If their response is “NO”, move on.

Arrive at least one hour prior to the fashion show time that you want to see. Seating is usually first come-first serve and it’s widely known that the closer you sit to the stage, the greater you chances are of receiving any prize that the show MC is giving away.

Hot tip– if you already have a dress, skip the fashion show and take advantage of vendors not being as busy. You can sometimes arrange better deals during this time due to the one-on-one attention you will receive.

Be flexible and keep an open mind
Planning a wedding requires a lot of organization and requires you to also be flexible. If you had your heart set on a specific wedding vendor and find out that they are booked or cannot accommodate your preferences, simply begin looking for another vendor. There will be lots of professional services being offered during the bridal show and you will surely have other options.

If you see another person roaming the show with a good giveaway gift or sample, make an attempt to visit the booth they got it from right away. Quantities are usually limited and only the first few visitors will receive those “good” gift samples.

Ring cleaning
Don’t forget to make time to have your engagement ring cleaned for free during your bridal show visit. This is a very common service that you should definitely take advantage of and it only takes a few minutes.

After the show

Prepare for mail pieces
Within just a few days of you attending the bridal show, you will obviously begin receiving an increased amount of pamphlets and letters from area exhibitors that are vying for your business. Some of the mail will have special offers or incentives for you to contact them.

Email Spam
When you first register for attending a bridal show, you will notice that the registration paper you fill out will often have an area to fill in your email address. What a lot of event promoters do not tell you is that your email will be shared amongst all the show exhibitors so they can continue to pursue your business. This is certainly one negative aspect of attending a bridal or wedding show but now that you know to create a separate wedding email address (tip above), you can easily trash that email account when your wedding is over and not have to worry about trying to unsubscribe from all those spam emails you didn’t want in the first place.

Organize your new found information ASAP
Do yourself a favor and arrange to go through and organize all the pamphlets and literature you received from the bridal show as soon as you can. Having a huge stack of papers you haven’t gone through can loom over you and create a sense of not being organized.

Follow up with vendors you like quickly
Remember, good vendors book up fast and your show-favorite could book up if you don’t act. If you find a vendor you like, make sure he/she knows it and get the communications going.

Attending a bridal show is an adventure that every soon-to-be-married bride or couple should experience. It’s a great feeling to know there are people in your local area that are dedicated to making your wedding day as special as it can be and understand the stress and time it takes to arrange all the details. Good luck finding those great deals and don’t forget to use these show tips to make attending a bridal show a more pleasurable and stress-free experience.

Good luck and enjoy the bridal show!