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Bridal Shows: Putting Things into Perspective

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Heather McCoy

Bridal Shows{source}

In the world of weddings, the whole “biggest day of your life” thing is appallingly overdone. As in, “this cake represents your first meal as husband and wife, so it has to be perfect!” or “this is the most sentimental and significant dress you will ever wear!” or “everything is going to be perfect on your wedding day!” In modern wedding culture, this “most important” idea gets expanded and exploited by vendors in the interest of dollar signs. Don’t believe me? Visit any bridal show to see this in practice.

This isn’t to say that I hate bridal shows or that you shouldn’t attend them. Shows are a great way to gather ideas and potentially book multiple vendors in the same place. They’re a gathering place for a community of brides, which–in a process that can be overwhelming and isolating–is worth something in itself. Shows are also fun places to partake in plenty of free stuff: free food, photobooth photo strips, mini-makeovers, and more. If you’re especially lucky, shows can also be an opportunity to receive discount coupons or win free services.

Bridal shows have their place.

However, as a bridal show attendee, you have to keep everything in perspective and remember that every vendor–regardless of how competent, helpful, or talented they may be–is there to make money. (Side note: therefore, it is bogus that anyone ever pays to attend a bridal show).

Yes, bridal shows can be a great place to see many different vendors in one place, but they can also be completely overwhelming for recently engaged brides-to-be. Your mental dialogue can easily end up sounding something like this:

{On first entering} Wow. Look at how much stuff is here! This is gorgeous! Everything looks so nice!

Then your reactions may mirror those of a small puppy:
Wow! Look at those amazing invitations!
Oooh! Peonies! I LOVE PEONIES!
Oh, hey! Free cupcakes!
Wait. What time is it? I better hurry over to the stage; it’s almost time for the fashion show!
Eeeww, that dress is ugly.
Oh, I love that one!
Wait. Reception dress? What’s a reception dress? I thought I was supposed to buy one dress for your wedding. And I can’t even afford THAT ONE!

And right about then is where it starts going downhill.

Wow. Two dresses, you think. Well, maybe that would be fun. Hey, that one’s nice. I wonder how much… holy crap! $4,000?! Are you kidding me?
And what about shoes? I better think about shoes. I can’t buy this nice dress and not have new shoes to go with it.
The black on the dresses is kinda neat. But also kind of weird. I mean, what if it clashes with my flowers?
Oh, crap. Flowers. I probably have to figure out what flowers I’ll need. I don’t know anything about flowers. Roses are pretty…
Pretty expensive, that is. And they die pretty easy too. Ok, maybe I’ll just talk to this florist…
{talks to florist} $100 a bouquet? Seriously? And you require a $2,000 minimum order?

And on it goes. A similar phenomenon also happens when you realize just how many businesses there are at a bridal show, all of whom will insist that you NEED their services in order to run a wedding. DJs, florists, bakeries, personalized lighting companies, balloon arch specialists, photobooth companies, caterers, photographers, makeup services, brooch bouquet and fascinator Etsy shops, jewelry design companies, and much more.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Your wedding will not suck because you are missing one or–heck, I’ll say it–ALL of these things.

Take a moment with that, and repeat it like a mantra as many times as you need to.

Go on.

I’ll wait.

Your wedding will not suck because you have the wrong flowers. Or an inexpensive dress. Or a 13″x9″ Funfetti cake your mom made.

It will not suck if you skip all of these things entirely and opt for wearing jeans and getting married in your living room.

Think back to the happiest moment in your life, whatever that was. I’m going to guess it wasn’t the happiest moment because it was one in which you spent a lot of money. I’ll bet it wasn’t the best because you looked fabulous (even if you did). I bet it wasn’t even the best because the dessert was delicious and plentiful.

No, the best moment of your life probably had something to do with the people who surrounded you. Family? Friends? Loved ones?

Am I right? Eh? Ehhhhhh?

I thought so.

And exactly the same thing will be true on your wedding day. You will be marrying your best friend, surrounded by the people you love (who also love you).

Plus there will be the added bonus of you looking fabulous, natch.

Everything else is, as they say, is icing on the cake.

Bridal Shows


Heather McCoy

is a lifelong learner who works in higher education and overanalyzes everything. She got married in May 2012 - read her wedding planning posts here.