It’s that time of year again when wedding fairs and open days are taking place up and down the country. So if you recently got engaged, now is the perfect time to head to a fair near you to gather ideas and meet wedding vendors face-to-face. However, are wedding fairs worth it when you can see pretty much everything online these days? How can they help you plan your wedding? And how do you make them work for you? Answers below…
1. Gather ideas and inspiration
No matter their size (whether you go to one of the massive national wedding shows or a more intimate wedding fair at a venue near you) their purpose is always to inspire the most important person – YOU. Most wedding fairs will have a wide range of wedding suppliers showcasing their wares and services – hair & makeup artists, cake makers, jewellers, dress boutiques, DJs, magicians, wedding stylists, photographers and more – so you can gather lots of tips and inspiration, as well as find out about the latest wedding styles and trends.
2. See the venue
If you go to a wedding fair at a venue rather than a show at a massive expo centre, the venue will often be dressed as it would be for a wedding, so this will help you get a better idea of the size of the rooms and what you can and can’t do with the space. The venue’s wedding stylist or co-ordinator will also be on hand so you can discuss your own vision and ideas.
3. Find out what you don’t want
This may sound strange, but finding out what you DON’T want is just as important as finding out what you DO want. For example, from photos you’ve seen on websites/magazines, you might have your heart set on a rustic theme. But then when you see it up close you may decide that it’s not actually quite you. Or you might have decided on sending out traditional-looking invitations until you see some gorgeous sample hand–lettered invitations on display that you fall in love with!
4. Meet wedding experts
If you’re just starting out with your wedding planning, it can feel overwhelming as there’s so much to think about and decide on. So having a whole bank of wedding experts to quiz can be super helpful. Many of them will have been working in the wedding industry for a while and have seen it all and know what works best. So ask away and get all the advice you need from the people in the know. Everyone is there to help.
5. Get answers fast
Meeting wedding suppliers face-to-face means you’ll get immediate answers, so it’s a much more efficient way to find out about a supplier’s services, experience, their different packages, and best-sellers, than via the back-and-forth of several emails or phone calls. You’ll also quickly decide if you like them or not, which is very important, particularly when choosing your videographer or photographer – you’ll spend a lot of time with them on your wedding day so you’ll want to feel relaxed and comfortable with them.
6. Meet recommended wedding suppliers
Fairs at wedding venues will most likely have invited suppliers they trust and love working with. So if you decide to book any of them, you can be sure you’ll be in reliable and capable hands and that everything will run smoothly on your big day.
7. Eat cake and be merry
If you’re a massive foodie like me, trying different cakes/canapés and drinking a glass or two of bubbly is definitely a great perk of going to a wedding fair! Your wedding guests will likely remember the food and drink you choose, so you may as well sample as much as you can so you make the best decision, right?!
8. Save money
Many vendors often have special offers and give-aways at fairs. Getting a good deal can be really helpful, especially if you have a tight wedding budget.
9. Go with your gut
You would never buy a house without having seen it in person, and I often think it’s much the same with wedding venues. After all, a wedding is also something you’ll spend a lot of money on, so rather than rely on photos online, it’s definitely a good idea to go and see for yourself. Take your time, chat with the staff, and wander round so you get a real feel for the place before making up your mind. And if you want to go back again for a second visit? No problem!
10. Don’t feel pressured
Of course, wedding suppliers attend wedding shows and fairs to get business, but please don’t feel pressured or obliged to book or buy anything. For example, you could be so blown away by a magician’s magic tricks that you book them on the spot, only to later discover that the money would have been much better spent on wedding stationery or something else. If you’re not ready to buy or need time to digest things, that is totally fine. Take your time. You will most likely be given a goodie bag with supplier details and/or can pick up business cards/flyers as you go around the various stands, so you can always get in touch with suppliers after the event.
And finally – have fun and enjoy mulling over the ideas you gather.
Here are a few lists of local wedding shows/fairs, but do a quick google search and I’m sure you’ll find a number which are local to you:
And if you fancy popping by to say hello and having a chat about all things wedding photography, I will be exhibiting at the following wedding fairs:
- Shaw House Wedding Fair, 2nd February 2020, 11am-3pm: this is the biggest wedding fair in Newbury with over 70 suppliers and entry is free. There will be a bridal fashion show, interactive displays, workshops, PLUS the first 100 guests to register will receive a 12″ pizza for FREE! What’s not to love? You can find all the details and register here.
- The Elephant Hotel Wedding Fair, 23rd February 2020, 12-3pm: with its relaxed and quirky vibe, this boutique hotel in central Pangbourne is a great venue for couples wanting a no-stress and unique wedding. The venue will be dressed to impress and recommended suppliers will be on hand to answer all your questions. Entry is free. For a free cocktail upon arrival please click here to pre-register your place.
- Bradfield College Wedding Fair, 29th March 2020, 11am-3pm: If you’d love to have a quintessentially English wedding at a venue that’s set in idyllic Berkshire countryside, then this could be the perfect venue for you! With a whole host of trusted suppliers to speak to, you’ll be sure to get the best advice, and enjoy a look around this gorgeous exclusive-use venue. Click here for more information about the fair.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. No question is too small or silly. I’m here to help! 🙂
P.S. If you need a helping hand with your wedding venue shortlist, then have a look at my blog post on how to choose your wedding venue which is packed with tips. You can download my FREE wedding venue comparison spreadsheet too!