In short, yes… but only if you use them wisely. Lemme ‘splain:
Bridal shows can be very overwhelming with dozens of booths and possibly hundreds of brides with their respective entourages sipping on champagne, tasting cookies and bartering with vendors. If you aren’t prepared, this can be more of a frustration and even a waste of your precious planning time. Used correctly though, you can learn a great deal about picking vendors, get awesome ideas, have a blast with your friends, and maybe even find your favorite vendors! Here are a few tips to help get the most out of bridal shows.
Every article on the subject will tell you (and they are absolutely right) to get your own wedding email address. First, this will funnel all unwanted advertisements away from your personal account. When you sign up for the show, the organizers may share your contact information with all vendors involved and you can end up with a flood of “spam”. On a positive note, however, creating a unique wedding email will also help keep you organized when talking to vendors who you do want to work with. Finally, both you and your fiancé can access the account and share important wedding information.
Brides that benefit the most from shows do a little research before they attend. Decide which vendor categories you are interested in booking and which you are only seeking information from. By deciding this beforehand, you can avoid getting distracted by the booths unnecessary for you and plot out which ones you want to focus on (it’s just like planning a sight-seeing day in a new city!).
For the wedding services you are interested in booking, Google some vendors in the category and find out what the average rate is and what is offered in most packages. For example, when researching videographers in your wedding area, try to find how much they charge, how many hours of coverage and what kind of edit is included. This way you can compare what is being offered at the show. This will also help you see through any “false discounts”. The uneducated bride might be caught by a “Steal of a Deal” and book a vendor simply because it was “50% off!!” But you, the educated bride will be able to see which vendors likely increased their prices only to provide a show “discount”. You will see that some vendors who aren’t even offering a discount may be the best value. Shop smarter not harder!
There are probably some vendor categories you aren’t ready to book but you just need some ideas or information from. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, LOTS of them. This is a great opportunity to pick the minds of professionals who are at tons of weddings per year and can help you make the best decisions. They have seen the good the bad and the ugly and would love to share their expertise with you. Have a friend help you jot down the information you collect and offer their objective opinion at the end of the day.
Lemme sum up: Bridal shows can be tons of fun but don’t waste your time or money by being unprepared. Do some research and set up an email address beforehand. Bring some trusty and honest friends with you, take notes through the day and use the show as a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips!