Bridal Show Season- How to prepare?

Baltimore Bride Magazine's Aisle Style
Now that you have decided which bridal shows to attend this season, make sure you are prepared to get the most out of your time (and money).  Here are some tips to help make bridal shows a piece of cake:

1. Have an empty tote.  Be sure to have a bag to carry all of the informational brochures, business cards, information packets, etc you will want to take home.  If you are attending a big show, you will be amazed by the amount of literature you'll be carrying around.

2.  Have a notebook and pen.  Of course, a lot of information will be provided by the vendor in promotional materials.  But you may want to make notes about particular vendors you liked, specific services they provide, price quotes, or questions you had answered.  If you're an overachiever, bring a fine point Sharpie- that way you can write on any surface, including glossy promotional literature.

3. Have calling cards.  Either your business cards, personal calling cards, or self-printed labels with your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.  Most vendors will already have this information when you register to attend, but if there is a particular vendor you are interested in, be sure they receive one.  Vendors may offer discounts or giveaways to brides they meet at particular events.

4. Have a check book.  For the most part, you'll just be learning about vendors.  But, you never know what you may find- the perfect photographer with limited availability.  There are only 52 weekends in a year and vendors can fill up fast.  Also, some vendors have "show only specials."  In order to receive a discounted rate, you must make a deposit during the show.  Don't be afraid to ask vendors if they have any show promotions.

5. Have a camera.  Be ready to take photos of fashion shows, wedding vignettes, cakes, etc.  Inspiration abound, you'll want to be able to review later.  Also, take photos of the booths of any vendors you were particularly interested in.  It will be an easy visual reminder of conversations or thoughts you may have had.  At the end of the day it may be difficult to keep things clear after collecting so many business cards, a booth photo should provide you with basic information, such as the vendor's name.

6. Have comfortable shoes.   Ladies, I'm not kidding.  You're going to be standing and walking for hours, carrying a bunch of brochures, catalogs, and magazines - don't miss out by distracting foot pain or having to leave early.  Most door prizes or raffles are announced later in the show and you must be present to win.

7. Have an entourage.  Bring people who have opinions you trust.  Consider people who have a sense of style or taste you admire, people who are good with negotiations or making financial decisions, and people who are good with keeping your needs in mind.  I mention that last one as we all have friends and family who are good at deciding what they'd like, make sure your posse includes someone who not only knows you well but can advocate on your behalf.

8. Have a good time.  Wedding shows are full of great food, beautiful decor, and fun music.  Take a moment to enjoy the time with your friends and family.  Some shows will have a dance floor, don't hesitate to bust a move!  And remember if you're feeling overwhelmed, just step out and take a moment to yourself.

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