I know I have a tough act to follow since my witty fiance wrote the last blog about the groom's perspective and how to be involved in the wedding planning, but I want to share my experiences on something he hasn't gotten to be involved in yet...the wedding fairs.
When I decided to attend my first wedding fair, the Mpls.St.Paul Weddings Bridal Party in September 2010, I honestly had no clue what to expect! I unknowingly imagined I would see brides running around like crazy, similar to those videos you see on the news when there is a big bridal dress sample sale.
These visions flashed into my head and I wasn't sure if I needed a helmet or a shield to bring with me—so I brought something better—my awesome sister/Matron of Honor. (She is a great asset because she can maneuver through a crowd like a ninja!)
The great news is it was actually a lot of fun!! It's like being at a party with a bunch of people you don't know, but can easily start a conversation with, and everyone is happy! There are fashion shows, cake testing, flowers, wine, musicians, and great examples of industry trends such as photo booths and innovative invitation ideas.
I have been to a few more fairs since then, (inluding the most recent Bridal Party in January 2011 at The Depot in Minneapolis), and I have learned a few tricks on how to be more effective and get the most out of it:
1. Book online/buy tickets in advance. You can save a lot on tickets and sometimes can even get the Bride's ticket for free!
2. Plan out your visits! This is like Disneyland when you were a kid and would look at the map and plan out which rides you were going to go to first! Granted, most of them do not have a map available in advance; however the list of vendors is available and that is a great way to plan ahead on what booths you want to make sure to visit! There are often so many vendors that it is easy to miss something.
3. Think about your timing. There are often fashion shows, hair trend shows, and prize drawings throughout the day, so make sure you know when those are since it is easy to lose track of time. Also, some drawings you need to be present for (and they may be at the end of the event). I have seen someone win a honeymoon drawing, and since she was not present, they drew another name and that excited bride reaped the benefit of winning a free honeymoon!
4. Come with questions and even be ready to potentially book. Many of the vendors offer discounts for people who attend and sometimes an even deeper discount if you book at the wedding fair. If you are looking for a particular service—it is smart to bring a little notepad to jot down some questions as it is easy to get caught up in all of the events going on and forget those big hitter questions.
5. Efficiency Ideas: You will be filling out your name and address a lot! Bring address labels to save time and hand cramps! (It may also be helpful to write your wedding date and email on the label!) Also, make sure you take notes on their handout or on a little notepad, because once the event is over, you will have talked to so many people, you won't remember who said what!
6. Wear comfortable shoes! I know it's a no-brainer, but you do walk a bit and have a bag of samples and goodies to carry around which can grow pretty quick (luckily they usually throw a bottle of water in there for you to stay hydrated)!
7. Don't be afraid to bring your groom! Yes, there ARE guys there—and they aren't being dragged around by their ears by their brides-to-be! They are a key part of the process, especially if you are looking to book something that day. Unfortunately Mike was out of town or had a Navy drill weekend for the events that I attended, but luckily my sister or one of my other fun bridesmaids came with me to be my fun sidekick!
The wedding fairs can be a very fun (and definitely productive), and you get to go home with a goodie bag like when you went to fun birthday parties as a kid! Even better than the goodie bag is a sense of accomplishment on research and planing for your big day!
Next on my checklist: Bridesmaid dress shopping with my girls!! We are on a mission, and since we are on the hunt for beautiful red dresses, I plan to play the song Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh in the car to inspire all of us! Ha ha!