Prepare for Battle:
NO…not really. No one is going to tackle you at the Show, but you do need a plan of attack before you even get to the Expo. Start by making a list of what all you need for your wedding. Even though your list may still be long, this will help you to be able to sift through the vendors you need to talk to as you walk through the show. You can also look at the Wichita Bridal Show website for a full list of vendors by category.
2. Stay Organized!
When you enter the doors at the show, you will receive a vendor guide (very helpful in showing you where vendors are located) and a bag for brochures. The bag is what will get you into trouble! It is absolutely a must have, but after a day of talking to about 200 people, you will put everything in your bag and go home. When you get home and open the bag up… everything gets confusing!
It can be so hard to remember which conversation went with which company/flier. All the faces will start to blend together and all of the information you collected, suddenly feels lost.
Best remedy: Carry a PEN!
Doing something as simple as marking a STAR for those you love (or in some cases, an X for those you don't) on a flier or in your vendor guide after you walk away from a booth will help you tremendously. Make small notes about that company or their booth display to help you remember what you loved about them! It can also be helpful to pick up the business cards of your top pick vendors and put them somewhere other then in your bag (e.i. your purse or even your back pocket). Or better yet... use that iPhone that will probably be in your hand anyway and take photos of the booths you love, including the company name!
3. Hunt for Professionalism!
I would love to say that every vendor you meet will be amazing, but that is not always the case. When talking to a vendor, keep in mind that you are basically interviewing them to play an integral role in one of the biggest days of your life, so it is okay to ask questions! Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling.
- How long have you been a__________?
- Where did you receive your training?
- What happens if there is an emergency and you can’t come to my wedding?
- How many staff do you have?
- How many events have you done?
If something seems “off” it probably is, so walk away.
4. Be Prepared to spend some money!
Most vendors are not going to pressure you to book at the show, but almost all will offer a Show Special. If you find a vendor you love and they have your date available, snatch them up before someone else does! This is especially true with what I call your 'CORE vendor' group. These are the elements that all weddings have: Venue, Music, Flowers, Photography, Food/Beverage, Rentals (depending on venue), and Planner (no, not every wedding has one, but I think every wedding should! ;) Please make sure to hire a gem in these areas and don’t be afraid to spend a little $$$ on them. They will really make or break your wedding day!
If you have any questions about Wichita’s elite group of vendors, please feel free to contact me!
5. Have fun!
Don’t let the volume of the show stress you out! Take this time to walk around with your friends, eat some cake, and have a good time. You don’t have to make any concrete decisions at someones booth. I am a firm believer that every good decision should be "slept on"... so just drink it all in and revisit all the details you acquire (accompanied by your awesome note taking) the next day!
Also, we were all raised to be polite, but don’t feel you have to give your name and life story to every vendor out there.
6. And last but not least… Exit Stage Right!
It’s a two day show! So, if the thought of tasting one more piece of wedding cake makes your stomach churn, or seeing yet another photo of a smooching couple has you ready to draw mustaches on their faces, then you’ve had enough for one day. Armed with your notes, a collection of business cards, and 27 pounds of brochures and magazines, head for the door. When you get home, ask your fiancé (sweetly) for a foot massage; and while he’s rubbing lavender oil into your tired tootsies, entertain him with your adventures at the fair. (But don’t be surprised if he keeps one eye on the ball game!) After all, there's always tomorrow!