Thank you for joining us in this last of a three-part series
What do stickers have to do with not feeling overwhelmed at a wedding expo? You’ll have to read on to find out. But first, let’s take a look back.
If you’ve been following this series, you’ll remember I shared with you I felt very overwhelmed at the first Wedding Expo I attended. It was nobody’s fault but my own because I didn’t do research or come with a plan. I was very unprepared.
I also mentioned Wedding Expos in the Hudson Valley come fast and furious. Starting at the beginning of January, and for the next few months after, there seems to be one or more every weekend. That’s a good thing, but having so many to choose from can be overwhelming in its own right. How do you choose which ones to go? When should you start going to shows?
There really is no simple answer, and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s really up to you. Margaret Brower, Director of Sales at The Grandview explains, “Some (couples) feel really comfortable getting things out of the way and check off a list, some feel like they want to enjoy engagement and then look for vendor.” Paul Porco, manager at Villa Borghese Caterers, says he’s even seen couples go that aren’t even engaged yet!
So, regardless of when you go or how many shows you go to, there are six things you can do to make sure you have an awesome experience that leaves you wanting to go back for more:
COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN
“It is really important to come with a plan,” Brower says. “What do you want to get from the show? Are you going to … start your wedding planning with something that is exciting? … Or maybe you’re going for information and making that particular show just a source of gathering different vendors booklets and cards. … Sometimes you go to a show and it’s like, ‘OK, we have three months until the wedding; we have to find a florist.’ ” Knowing your plan and what you expect to get out of the show is going to elevate a lot of stress. Wanda Mendillo, Banquet and Sales Manager for Anthony’s Pier 9, says, “Your first show is probably going to be gathering the experience of the show itself and taking information, as well as packages and pamphlets. Then when you go home, you’ll be able to sort through a little bit of the information.” You need to set your plan and expectation and know why you are going first. What do you want to gain from it?
I had the opportunity to speak to two lovely couples a few weeks back at the Villa Borghese show, each were there for a different reason. Kim and Andrew from Mahopac are getting married in the summer of 2018, and this was their first show. While Kim had been to other shows in her role as bridesmaid, this was her first as a bride-to-be. They didn’t really have any details planned and were just going to see what’s out there and to get a feel for locations; if you haven’t had a chance to read my posting on using a wedding expo to look at venues, you can check it out here.
Mary and Chris from Hyde Park, on the other hand, were at the show for a very specific reason: They have been engaged for a year-and-a-half and are really at the end of their wedding planning process as they are getting married in June of this year. They were there specifically to look for a transportation company and tuxedos. Chris’s advice for couples is to try to get as much done early on and stick with your budget. He says it can get overwhelming at times, but you need to go with an open mind, and just get information the first time going. He says it’s important for grooms to go, too, as it helps to ease the stress of just one person going.
Porco says one of the best ways not to get overwhelmed is by not rushing. “Try not to rush into things,” he says. “View your options as far as your different vendors, different DJs, photographers, you know, go with a company that has been established for a while.” We’ll discuss this more in a future post. Remember, your wedding is not tomorrow (hopefully), so you do have some time to make an educated decision of who you want to hire. Also, take your time at the show, relax, grab a bite to eat, have a drink. Enjoy the show for what it is and take your time with each vendor so you can really express what your vision is to them. Don’t just make it a “How much do you charge?” conversation. More on that to come, too.
I told you stickers played a major role! When you go to a show, you are given a bag at registration to hold all your loot during the day. It quickly gets filled with cards and brochures from all the professionals you speak to. Then you go home and are left with a bag of paper, and you need to remember who you spoke to, who you want to follow-up with; it can get pretty complicated if you don’t have a system. Brower says, “I always tell my couples to bring stickers, walk into the show, and if you like a vendor after talking to them, put a sticker on the back of their card…because once you put it (the card) in your bag, it gets jumbled with everyone else…so just simply putting a sticker on the back of their business card or on their pamphlet denotes this is someone we want to revisit, so you can automatically sort the people you are interested in and the people that you aren’t.”
She also suggests you bring another type of sticker, this time with your contact information on it “If any of the booths have raffles, it’s a time saver. You can just put your label on any of the raffle items and keep moving throughout the show.”
CREATE AN EMAIL
Have you ever overlooked an important email because your inbox is full of junk and spam, and it got lost in the shuffle? Brower says, “The first piece of advice I give wedding couples when they come into the office is to make a wedding email address.” You are going to need to give it at registration, and it allows you to keep all wedding-related emails together in one place throughout your planning process. Plus, both of you will have the address and password, so you each can check it throughout the day, keeping in the loop.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Wedding expos can have anywhere from a few professionals to upwards of 100 or more, so you need to keep an open mind. Know that the Hudson Valley is full of wedding professionals, and they don’t all necessarily attend shows. Also, if you’ve done your research already and absolutely fell in love with an expert’s services and then see them at a show to discover one of two things: Either your date is booked or you are not meshing well with them, you’ll need to keep looking; or if you are on a super-tight budget, see when vendors have a slow period. Booking in their off season may save you money in the long run.
This could quite possibly be the most important thing to remember. Porco says overall, the goal of wedding shows is to provide you with resources to make your wedding go off without a hitch. But who says you can’t have fun in the process? Many shows will have food, drinks, contests, seminars, games, DJs playing great music and a wedding fashion show with models showcasing dresses and tuxedos. At the Villa Borghese, the staff gets in on the fun as they are the models for the show!
Brower urges couples to keep it light when they go to show because it is very easy to have an anxiety-ridden experience. “Keep it light when you go to them,” she says. “This is part of the engagement and planning process, so make sure that it’s fun, because if you leave and you feel stressed, you missed it. It should be something wonderful to help you. These shows should be a tool for you and not to make you feel stressed out.” Mendillo agrees, as she tells every couple she knows who’s going to a show, “I want them to have fun.”
At the end of the day, all the vendors and all the host venues are there to help you. Porco sums it up nicely by saying, “Our fortune is that you came to our bridal show, we made your life that much easier, and that much special for that particular day. That’s the most important thing.”
What tips do you have for couples going to wedding expos? What piece of advice would you share?Read More