At time of publishing there are three big shows coming up this weekend (May 5) across the country: Auckland, Wellington, and Nelson. Use this guide to help you get the most from your wedding expo experience.
Wedding Shows are held every year throughout New Zealand (Use our handy wedding show calendar to see when a show next hits your town). They are a great way to learn about different vendors in your area, as well as gather together ideas and inspiration for your wedding. It’s a wonderful experience – you’re able to touch and smell and taste products that you can only imagine from images online.
But wedding shows can also be daunting and stressful. All those couples desperate to talk to the vendors means it can sometimes be difficult to get your questions answered. It can also be hard to stay on task when you’re distracted by so many pretty, shiny things!
But don’t worry, we’ve compiled the ultimate Wedding Show Survival Guide, to help you stay focused and get the most out of wedding shows.
1. Choose the right wedding show
It might surprise you to know that wedding shows have specific markets. Usually they are geographic (brides in Rotorua, etc) but in the larger centres like Auckland and Wellington there are several wedding shows catering to different markets. If your budget is under $10,000 and you attend one of the high-end wedding shows you’re just going to walk away feeling despondent. There might also be smaller, boutique wedding shows in your area catering to a specific niche, such as vintage weddings.
Also, wedding shows are timed around the wedding season. Most couples in New Zealand wed between mid-November-February, and most take between 12-18 months to plan their weddings. Bridal shows toward the beginning of the year tend to focus on the bigger purchases: venue, catering, photographer and dress, while shows nearer to the season tend to focus on the smaller details: cake, celebrant, favours, suit hire, etc.
Make a list of all the different shows throughout the year, and choose the ones that best suit your needs and your budget.
2. Bring Someone Useful
The truth is that some partners aren’t all that interested in the finer details of wedding planning, and that’s perfectly OK. But if choosing table linens and talking to 20 different photographers is your partner’s idea of hell, leave him/her at home and take your best friend, sister or mum. You’ll have a lot more fun and get more done if you bring someone helpful along.
Most wedding shows offer pre-registration tickets if you book online before the show. These are usually cheaper than buying a ticket at the door. Look out for cheap wedding show tickets on sites like GrabOne too.
4. Be Prepared
Before you attend the fair, write a short list of your goals. What vendors do you still need to choose? It helps to keep a list of the vendors you still require – caterer, reception entertainment – so you can make a beeline for their tables without being too distracted by all the other pretty things on display.
Bring along your appointment book or diary to jot down notes and appointments, as well as a case or pocket to store business cards. If you’ve already chosen your dress or your bridesmaids’ dresses, it can be useful to bring along a colour swatch to match with other details.
5. Dress Comfortably
Wedding shows are BIG. You’ll spend a significant portion of your day walking around the venue, standing on your feet talking to vendors, and bending over to sample cakes and nibbles. Wear layers in case it gets too hot or too cold, and flat, comfortable shoes.
6. Attend the Fashion Shows
Even if you’ve chosen your outfits already, the catwalk at a wedding show is a fun experience. It’s often the highlight of the day, and the show goes all out choosing some of the most dazzling and avant-garde designs. If you’ve never attended a fashion show before, at least pop your head in and take a look.
7. Don’t Sign Up for EVERYTHING
The last thing you want when you return from a wedding show is an inbox filled with vendor newsletters and “special deals”. When you register for the show, you’ll probably also be signing up to receive emails from their sponsors, and many vendors will also be keen to have you sign up to their lists. If you’re uncomfortable saying “no”, simply use a slightly altered name and fake email address on vendors whose services you’re not interested in.
8. Don’t Cave-In to Pressure
Most wedding show vendors are polite, friendly and lovely to talk to. But there are a few who like to put the hard sell on. Many vendors will offer a special deal for bridal show attendees - $50 off the price of your cake, or a free wedding album with the photography package – but even if their advertising material says this special is for show day only, they will probably give it to you anyway if you come to them later and remind them you met them at the show.
But other vendors will pressure you to sign up right away. I remember meeting a couple such vendors at a bridal show – one photographer berated me for 15 minutes about my relationship because I said I had to discuss with my husband (who wasn’t at the show). He kept shoving his cellphone under my nose and demanding I call my husband right there and then. All he managed to do was frighten me away.
If a vendor is pressuring you to spend a lot of money right away, they are probably not the right vendor for you. A truly exceptional vendor will not need to be pushy, as their work and professionalism will speak for itself.
9. Make Notes on Promotional Material
You will inevitably return from a wedding show with a giant bag stuffed with paper flyers and business cards. It can be difficult sorting through that pile and recalling the vendors you liked and their prices. One great idea is to make notes about each vendor on their business cards or flyers, so you’ll always have that information together with their contact details.
10. Have Fun!
Wedding shows aren’t meant to be all work and no play. Enjoy yourself! Take time to visit the stalls that interest you and soak up inspiration from creative vendors. Taste lots of delicious cakes and gossip with your girlfriend, partner or mum. Get that free massage and indulge in some bubbles with lunch. You only get to do this once, so take the time to enjoy the experience.
Have you attended a wedding show? Which was your favourite? What are your top survival tips for other brides and grooms?