Every city has them, and brides love to go to them.  They keep you up to date on the who’s who and the what’s what in the wedding vendor scene.  As a professional Spokane wedding photographer who attends these wedding fairs every year, I see flustered brides who are overwhelmed with choices and simply how busy these shows can be.  Many of them do not understand how these shows really work in the first place, so here is an article with ten tips that just might help many of you brides (and grooms) to make the most of the bridal fairs you attend.

1.  The first thing you should book is your venue, but it is absolutely best to book your venue and wedding photographer at the same time.  What good is an elaborate venue if you have terrible pictures to show it for the rest of your life?

2.  Be prepared to book at the wedding fair.  This isn’t just a time to window shop for the serious bride.  Dates will fill up — there are only so many Saturdays in a year, and you don’t want your wedding date to get taken by someone else.  This doesn’t mean you want to just go in and book a photographer based on the twenty pictures they have on display.  Definitely not!  Do your homework ahead of time, and be ready with questions to ask your wedding vendors.  Bring your smart phone or tablet and review their website as well as what they have on display.  Most wedding vendors will have means for you to book your date right there at the wedding fair.  Secure your date before it’s gone.

3.  Enjoy the wedding fair, but also be efficient.  If it is a larger event, you will possibly see hundreds of vendors, many of which you do not need to visit.  Know what you are looking for, and keep an eye out for vendors that you need.  If you stop at too many vendors out of mere curiosity that you have no need for at your wedding, you may become too tired to really enjoy your visits with those you do intend to use.

4.  Contests!  Yes, there will be so many contests at these events.  Wedding fairs are a great place for vendors to collect information about potential clients, and they do this through contests where they can get your contact information.  It’s perfectly fine to enter these — sure you will be contacted win or lose by these vendors, but when they do contact you, you just might learn something about them you missed at the wedding show.  Plus, you might get something free out of the whole deal!  To save time when entering the contests, use pre-made labels with your contact information on them.  You can sometimes get these directly from the show.  Peal, stick, done!

5.  Bring a friend.  Not only will a good friend or sibling (or mom!) help you to enjoy the wedding fair, but having them with you will increase your chances of catching a vendor that is just right for you.  Two sets  of eyes (and ears) are better than one.

6.  You will be bombarded with information from so many different vendors that by the end of the show you will have no idea who said what.  Take notes — it’s perfectly fine.  If they say something important to you, write it down!  So much better to capture those thoughts as they occur than to try to do it later, when you’re trying to sort through 40 different vendors!

7.  Bring a bag to collect all the brochures and gifts you will find at the wedding fair.  Most shows will give these to you when you arrive, but if they don’t, have one of your own ready!

8.  Compare and contrast your top vendors.  Look for not only pricing, but what is included in those prices.  A $200 discount on a venue booked at the wedding show may not be such a great deal if you have to use their amazingly expensive caterer!

9.  Don’t be pressured.  If a vendor is as good as they claim to be, they will not be pushing you hard to hire them.  A worthy vendor is someone who is confident and who loves to find out about you as much as they want to tell you about themselves.  They will not go directly to asking you to book them, because they truly care about you.  The want you to get the perfect vendor to make your wedding day perfect for you.

10.  Finally, ENJOY yourself!  Don’t let the crowds and sensory overload stress you.  These wedding shows are there to help you make good choices.  Keep your magical wedding day in the forefront of your mind, and imagine working with the vendors you are speaking with.  Some will make you feel great, and others will make you want to run away.  Don’t stay too long at the ones who make you want to run!  It will give you more time to relax with the ones you truly enjoy.

If you found this article helpful, visit apple brides for a great post that will help with creating wedding day timelines: http://applebrides.com/2012/11/27/how-to-plan-your-wedding-timeline-by-aip-photography/