Over the years, I have been asked why I do not participate in more bridal fairs? Well I did at one time. When we owned Duffys Florist in Murphys, Ca., we participated in the occasional bridal fair, and we quickly discovered that our participation rarely resulted in future wedding business. Unfortunately it seemed as if we served more as someone’s inspiration in which to copy, than to actually hire us to do the work. Think that is frustrating? Uh……….you bet it is.
When I created Silver Leaf Events, I had the idea to create high-end silk arrangements to offer as rentals or purchase for brides on a budget, and for those that wished to keep their bouquets forever. We participated in a few shows last year, and low and behold…the same thing happened. Photographs were taken under the guise that they wanted to have something in their hand to look at when they called us to discuss their wedding work. Yeah…right. What occurred…..was….again, taking our designs and doing the work themselves, or with a lessor product. Ok…I get it. And yes, I could have said no photographs…and probably should have….but I’m a trusting soul!!! So on we go.
All of the above aside, in my experience, I see brides entering these fairs with a glazed look in their eye. Often they are noisy, crowded, and very overwhelming! Too many vendors can be a negative as brides taste, look, feel, talk to, and pick up business cards from dozens and dozens of vendors, and often by time she gets home, she has forgotten what she liked and didn’t like!!! When I married a second time back in 1999, my then fiance and I decided to attend a bridal fair in Sacramento to get some ideas on what we wanted to do for a honeymoon. We walked in and were immediately struck with the sheer madness of it all……and like every bride I have witnessed at these things…..we walked out with a bag full of cards and brochures, and never looked at them again. UGH……
Ok, before I get negative comments from bridal show producers, and vendors, that rely on bridal fairs for a good portion of their wedding business, I will say that for SOME businesses, bridal fairs are a great way to represent their talents, and of course……potential venues!! I hesitate to speak for other vendor’s experiences with bridal fairs, and I won’t….but I would love to hear from them, and have them comment, and add to this discussion!!! I know that there are many businesses out there that love to participate, and find the fairs to be well worth their time and money! I would love to hear about your experiences!!
So what do I suggest to brides before they go to their first bridal fair? I suggest that if you are a first time bride, and are planning to attend your first bridal fair, go in with the intention to just get a feel of what is potentially available to you. You may or may not wish to even pick up business cards, and brochures, at your first show. Trust me….starting in the months of January, and February, there are numerous bridal shows in many areas throughout every state, and they usually crop back up in the fall months, so don’t panic. Go to an early in the year fair, and take note of what you liked, and didn’t like, about it. If you have a lot of time….you can just take the opportunity to get a few ideas on the latest trends in weddings, and go home and digest it all. If someone’s work is an absolute stand out, and you really, really, love it…then make an appointment to see this vendor at another time, where you can sit down, and really discuss details. Remember, one of the reasons I offer a complimentary 2 hour initial consultation at Silver Leaf Events, is so you can get a chance to know me, and I, you! Bridal fairs do not offer much of an opportunity for a one on one, and nor should they. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed with all the sites, and sounds, at one fair. Take your time, browse, maybe do a once over…or twice…and go home and take a breather. If the next bridal fair is in close proximity to the one you first attended, then chances are the vendors that you saw before, will be back!!! Also if you do find someone who you really, really, want to follow-up with…be sure to take a written note of that, or I promise you will go home…look through your stack of cards…and be completely confused! Take your time, enjoy, and follow up! 🙂