Let’s get down to business! You already know my Five Secret to an EASY Engagement but I wanted to expand on one of those tips today and tell you all about Bridal Expos. This is one of the best ways to start your wedding planning journey, and lemme tell you why.
You probably won’t be all that surprised to hear that Pinterest and Instagram are the leading places my brides find their vendors, ideas, and even me! BUT here’s the thing: Pinterest and the ‘Gram are great for collecting inspiration but not great for actually planning your wedding. There are two main reasons for this.
First, the pictures posted on most social media platforms are of styled shoots. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, a styled shoot is a photoshoot where wedding vendors come together to make beautiful, over-the-top inspirational weddings to post and showcase their beautiful work. When I say over the top, I really mean it. We’re talking next level glam. Like, what Blue Ivy’s future wedding will look like. While this is super fun to look at and fantasize about, it’s not great for normal people to aspire to this because a lot of the time vendors (including me) use their marketing money to make the shoot happen. They really bring their A-game to these shoots to show what they’re made of, which usually results in spending way more than a person would normally spend on their wedding. For example, I worked on a styled shoot where they spent $3K on an 8 ft garlands (check it out here). And while these are absolutely stunning, it would end up being like $7-8K to have at your own wedding and some people just don’t have the wedding budget for that. So what I recommend is using these photos as your inspiration, not as the actual path to follow.
The second reason Pinterest and Instagram aren’t ideal for actually planning your wedding is that they are worldwide companies. What does that mean? Well, the photos that are posted on their sites come from all over the world, not just in your location. So that means that when you type in “blush and bashful wedding colors,” the gorgeous chandelier or laser cut cake topper in your wedding colors may not be available to you. And if it is, you’re going to have to face shipping fees, taxes, the uncertainty of delivery dates, and all sorts of things you just might not be prepared for. Don’t worry my dears, there’s a way around this. If you’re dead set on using Pinterest and Instagram to model your wedding after, try typing in “blush and bashful wedding in California” or even more specifically “blush and bashful weddings in Temecula.” This will give you results that are local to your area and will make it so much easier for you to find ideas you can actually use.
Okay, now to the main event. Bridal fairs are SO MUCH FUN! Imagine this: you walk into the showroom Beyonce style with your Jay-Z at your side, and parade around tasting cakes, taking photos, trying all the food, and generally basking in your engaged glory. Okay, fantasy over. What’s not just in the fantasy is that vendors are genuinely so excited to talk to couples at bridal fairs face to face. We will be working together from as far as 2 years away from your wedding to as close as 6 months out from your wedding, and I personally want to make sure we like each other and get to know each other. We’re really building a friendship and a level of trust that’s necessary to make your wedding planning process as stress-free as possible. Basically, attending a bridal fair is a great way to see a lot of vendors in a short amount of time. Some vendors even include a bridal expo discount in their package if you book with them, so if you have a tight wedding budget and want to save some money, check it out and get those deals!
The most important tip I can give you for your Bridal Expo experience is to have a game plan going in. Expos can have anywhere from 20 to 100 vendors present and it can get overwhelming really quickly. This is where the binder comes in. I’m not talking the duct-taped one you made last all through high school. We’re going to take it up a level. Your binder is going to be filled with ways to keep track of the information you gather while at the expo and a place to put all your notes after you’re home.
Dividers: you’ll have a divider for each vendor you’ve already booked so you can keep the info in one spot to bring with you. So, if you have already booked your venue, you can have that info and photos in your binder to show a potential vendor you’re talking to and give them a frame of reference. You can also use these dividers to collect information as you go and put any materials they give you all in one place.
Inspiration photos: Another section for your binder should be dedicated to inspiration photos you’ve collected so you can show potential vendors.This is really helpful in being able to ask them if they are able to help you achieve the look you’re going for. By having photos ready, they can give you a rough cost, materials, and turn-around time, which saves you time in not having to revisit all these points later.
Wedding Resume: It’s always a good idea to have a sort of “resume” with all the information you already have about your wedding, including date, guest list, venue, any other vendors, bridal party info, etc. Having these stats ready to go will definitely save you some time!
Page protectors: I highly, HIGHLY recommend getting at least three page protectors with slots for business cards. You can sort them by yes/no/maybe and even write on post-its with the information on their deals and packages. This way, when you look back at all the cards you’ve collected, you’ll know where you stand and be able to narrow things down. You should also consider bringing a few full sized page protectors for vendors with larger contact sheets (like me! Go big or go home, right?).
You now have all the tools and tricks you need to survive Bridal Expo season. I hope you’ve gotten some ideas on how to stay organized and help you prepare for your bridal show experience. I would love to hear thoughts from any of you who have gone to a show, the tips you’ve picked up, or any other experiences you’d like to share! Happy wedding planning!