Top Tips For Attending Wedding Fairs

Ah, wedding fairs. A room full of suppliers all eager and ready to make your dreams come true. Potentially, by attending a wedding fair, you can plan your whole wedding in a day by making a list of everything you need and booking suppliers right there and then. I say potentially, because in all honesty, that’s not going to happen.

Firstly, some wedding fairs have 90-100 suppliers there all offering you the world and pinky promising to deliver on it (figuratively, not literally - we’re professionals). That’s a lot of people to get round in 4 hours. To get around everyone in this time you would only get 2.6 minutes with each supplier, which is definitely not enough time to determine whether or not they’re going to deliver on what you want. Because, if we’re being truly open and honest, the quality of someone’s work is a big factor in deciding to book them. But just as importantly, so is their personality. You don’t want to go through the agony of liaising with someone about your invitations if they’re miserable as sin. Equally, if they don’t seem excited about your wedding then you won’t want to work with them. Scientists claim that we make our minds up about people we meet after 3 seconds, but in reality it takes longer than 2.6 minutes to decide whether someone is a) nice and b) talented.

Secondly, if you’re there with your partner then they might not be as enthusiastic about the whole wedding fair situation as you are. In that case, they are going to want to be in and out of there as quickly as possible. Which basically means you are going to have to grab as many flyers and business cards from stands as you can before they are tugging at your arm begging to leave. If you’re there alone, or with your mum / best friend, then however much you talk to the suppliers you’re still going to have to pick up some flyers to show your other half when you get home.

I’ve heard wedding fairs described as the Hunger Games before and I’m not inclined to disagree. Suppliers have given up a day of working on a Saturday to attend the fair (typically the biggest day in the wedding industry) and so they are going to want to make it worth their while. As much as they want to make you happy on your wedding day, they also want some money in the bank. Don’t we all? And so you may experience the hard-sell on the day, which can be fairly difficult to say no to. It’s an altogether unique experience, and so I pulled together some tips in the hope I could help you navigate ‘a day at a wedding fair’ in a way in which you can enjoy yourself and still come away with some suppliers in mind. Let’s go!

1. Have an idea in mind of what you are looking for before you go

As mentioned above, wedding suppliers will not give up persuading you to book with them. I know I’m not painting a very kind picture of here, but as a wedding supplier myself I think I can comment. It’s the same with any job that involves selling in an environment where you are surrounded by other sellers. It’s a matter of getting the job done. If you have an idea of how you want your wedding cake to look then you are less likely to get distracted by the millions of other types of cakes out there. If you want a naked cake then there’s no point wasting time at a stand that literally only provides fancy fondant cakes. That’s 2.6 minutes you could be spending chatting to a naked cake supplier. If you literally have not given a thought to what you want your at your wedding then the number of choices available are going to overwhelm you, and you’ll walk from stand to stand feeling more torn than before you walked through the doors. Stick to what you want and most likely you’ll find someone there who does it. That’s one thing ticked off the list then!

2. Ask questions that you want the answers to

I’ve seen situations where a bride and groom have been talked at by a wedding photographer, for example, whilst he gives them the same spiel he’s given every other couple that’s stopped at his stand. Although what he says might very well be true, it’s what he’s not saying which is all the more important. The art of selling is to make all of the best things about your service / product sound like they solve all of your life’s problems and to leave out anything that perforates the benefits. We’re all versed at it, especially if you’ve ever written a CV or a job application. So, if this photographer is telling you that the price of his photography package is the best you’ll ever come across, and you’ll never find a better deal anywhere else, then you need to start thinking “why?”. Usually, this will be down to lack of experience, or the specifics of what’s included in the package. So ask. Enquire as to how many weddings he has photographed, and what exactly is included in the package. It’s not necessarily an issue if he’s only done a couple of weddings if his work is great. But you might want to know, and you have a right to know. If his package doesn’t include a printed album and that’s what you want, then you need to ask about it.

3. Take photos of the stands as you walk around

If you really get talking to a supplier and are really enthusiastic about booking them then chances are after you’ve seen another 10-20 suppliers you may forget their name. It’s not rude, it just happens. The only thing you’ll have to go on is the flyer / business card that you slipped into the bag they gave you at the start of the fair. If the supplier’s stand doesn’t match the branding on their marketing material then you literally might not be able to remember who the hell they were. Especially when you are faced with 70 other bits of marketing material which all look remarkably similar. However, if you take a photo of the stand on your phone then you’ll be able to flick back through your snaps, zoom in on their logo and find out exactly who they are.

4. Ask for samples

For things like wedding cake, it’s almost an unwritten rule that you are allowed to ask the suppliers for a sample of cake. It’s one thing if they make cakes that look truly wonderful but you actually need to know how it tastes. So don’t feel rude about asking to try some. They may not have samples out on display, as they won’t want the cake drying up in between potential customers, but it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for some. This will give them the heads up that you are actually considering them as a supplier, so if you do ask to taste the cake and you like it, do the courteous thing and give them five minutes to talk to you and find out about your wedding. You don’t then have to book with them, but the sample they’ve given you is costing them so at least give them a chance to convert you to an actual client.

5. Do give out your email

I feel like a massive hypocrite saying this as I guard my email address as if it’s the holy grail, but let me tell you why it’s worth giving it out to wedding suppliers. If you’ve been to a wedding fair before then you’ll be familiar with the routine of suppliers asking for your email address in return for you entering a competition to win ‘x’ or ‘y’. This is so that they can then add you to their email list and send you promotional newsletters etc. in the hope that you will still order something from them. All advice offered to exhibitors in advance of wedding fairs is to collect email addresses like their life depends on it, so it’s hardly surprising that every supplier there is likely to be doing exactly that.

The positive of it is that after the fair, suppliers will still be really keen to have your business and this is when all of the offers start rolling into your inbox. 20% off this and 15% off that. If you didn’t give out your email address then you’re not going to be eligible for any of the discounts as you won’t have that all important voucher code sat in your unread mail. If you then decide to book with any of these suppliers then you will have to pay the full amount, when for the sake of giving out your email address you could have saved yourself a few hundred quid.

It takes about ten minutes to go through and unsubscribe from all of these newsletters once you’ve decided on your full list of suppliers and so it really is worth doing. If you truly hate giving out your email address then tell the supplier that, whilst still standing at their stand, and ask if they’ll give you a discount if you book with them there and then. For the sake of getting a guaranteed booking they’ll probably say yes, and you’ve still saved yourself some money too. As a true geordie I can honestly assure you that “shy bairns get nowt” (Google it).

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and nobody should force you into something that you don’t want. No matter how good a salesperson they are. So stay wrong, and don’t feel like you need to be persuaded or spend time at stands you’re not interested in. But at the same time, keep an open mind about giving out your email address, especially if it means you could be the recipient of a great prize for your wedding. You have to be in it to win it.

Charlotte xoxox

Charlotte Spain