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Bridal Shows: What to Know, Bring, and Expect

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Thinking about attending a bridal show to get excited for the big day? Check out our top tips for making the most of a wedding expo.

Jessica Bishop Headshot

When you first start planning your wedding, the list of things involved in the big day can feel seemingly endless. From the venue, photographer, food, rentals, music, photo booth, favors, and more; not to mention what you will wear for the big day — the list of things to book or buy and decisions to be made goes on and on.

Thanks to the advent of wedding blogs and resources like The Knot, it’s easier and more accessible than ever to do lots of research for your big day decisions online. But there’s power in face-to-face interaction with potential vendors, especially those who will be spending lots of time with you on the wedding day. So if you’re hoping to make a more personal connection and be efficient with your planning efforts, you could seek out and attend a bridal show in your area.

What is a bridal show?

Bridal shows (or bridal expos) typically happen at large convention centers or conference centers. In many cases, hundreds of wedding vendors and service providers come together to put on a showcase for couples who are planning their weddings. Each wedding business will have their own booth or table where they will set up a display that explains or shows off their services or work, and they’ll often have pricing information or other marketing materials available for you to collect.

A bridal expo can be a great opportunity to chat with several vendors face to face, see if their work is a fit for your wedding vision, and make appointments to discuss things in further detail. Some exhibitors you may find at a bridal show include wedding photographers, wedding videography companies, catering companies, cake bakeries, wedding venues, DJs, musicians, or live bands, makeup artists, wedding planning and coordination services, florists, rental companies, photo booth companies, and more.

Bridal shows typically happen over a weekend, often on a Saturday or Sunday.

5 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Bridal Show

Below, we share five reasons why attending a bridal show is a good idea (spoiler alert: they can save you money and time!)

1. Make a Personal Connection

When it comes to choosing your wedding vendors, you want to make sure that you not only like their work, but that the people you hire are people you will enjoy working with for an extended period of time during your engagement. Sometimes, making that personal connection with a caterer or florist who truly understands your vision will push them to the top of your list. Personality matters when you are spending 6-12 months working with someone, and trusting them with a very important day in your life.

2. Score a Deal

Bridal shows are one of the biggest perks to being a bride in our opinion, especially if you’re on a strict budget. We’ve found that vendors who participate in bridal expos often have “show specials” which are essentially discounts on their services if you book a meeting or sign a contract at the show.

Take advantage of the opportunity to save with bridal show specials. If you’ve done a bit of research online prior to heading to a bridal show, you could go in knowing which vendors you are most interested in working with and score an awesome deal on someone you might have wanted to book, anyway! It never hurts to ask if a vendor is running a show promotion.

3. Get Advice

Many bridal shows will bring in expert presenters to share information to help you in planning your wedding. I’ve spoken at several bridal shows around the country including the Northwest Bridal Showcase and David Tutera’s My Wedding Experience, to share advice with couples on how to save money on their wedding day! Check out the websites for the bridal shows in your area to see what other sorts of programming or guests will be featured to make sure you’re in attendance during those special events.

4. Win Prizes!

Many vendors offer show giveaways and door prizes to potential couples who visit their booths. You can sign up for the chance to win all sorts of items for your wedding, from photography sessions to wedding cakes, to a free wedding dress, or even a free honeymoon!

Just remember, you can’t win a prize if you’re not entered… so it’s at least worth a shot, right? After all, nothing is more budget savvy than FREE.

The best bridal shows bring together the very best vendors in a given area. The best vendors are typically up-to-date with the ever-changing trends of the wedding industry. Much like the fashion world, styles in the wedding world are constantly evolving, and often times vendors will showcase what’s new and hot in their show booths to attract modern couples. Many wedding shows include a fashion show portion to showcase what’s trending in the world of bridal fashion as well. Enjoy your opportunity to view the latest bridal fashions or the most popular bridesmaid dresses to get inspiration for your wedding day look.

Tips for Making the Most Out of a Bridal Show

Having gone to many bridal shows, (including the largest bridal show in Houston, TX) we’ve learned some tips and tricks for making the best of your experience. We would highly recommend going to at least one bridal show if they have one in your area. (Savvy Tip: Google, “bridal show near me” to find local shows.)

One thing to know is that bridal shows can often be large, overwhelming, and loud events, so if you’re an introvert and don’t love crowds, you might be happier to skip attending. To make the experience a little more manageable and fun, below we have some helpful tips for making the most of bridal shows:

1. Make an email specifically for wedding planning 

Giving your email is a good way to get special deals right to your inbox. However, after giving your email to dozens of vendors, there can be quite an influx. Trust us on this one– make a new email address specifically for communication about your wedding. You’ll find that if you don’t, your inbox will become completely overloaded with the mixture of personal and wedding emails. Keep all your wedding-related messaging in one place in its own dedicated email address that you share with your fiancé.

2. Get labels with your name, address, phone number, and email printed

Nearly every vendor at bridal shows has some giveaway to enter. Also, if you give your information, many will send you special deals in the mail for attending the bridal show. Having ready-made labels keeps you from having to write your information repeatedly for every local vendor booth you stop into.

It’s way easier to slap on a label than have to write out the same info 20 or so times. Here’s what  you need: your name, address, e-mail, and wedding date. 

Warning: Don’t put your phone number unless you really want them to contact you this way. You could end up getting unwanted calls or texts– so stick with that dedicated wedding email address to save yourself the headache!

3. Enter all the giveaways

Those labels we just mentioned? Yeah, they’ll definitely come in handy for all of the giveaways you’ll want to enter. Throw your name in the ring for any product or service you might need or want for the big day. You just might win something that will allow you to free up funds for another area of your special day.

4. Bring a friend (or the whole squad!)

Having a sidekick, maid-of-honor, or even mom is a good way to keep yourself centered and have an extra hand. Sure, you can bring your fiancé if they’re into this sort of thing. Heck, feel free to invite the whole bridal squad if they’re local and game for attending. They graciously carried my bags and grabbed all the promotional materials. That allowed me to speak with the vendors, get ideas, etc. without getting overwhelmed with stuff.

5. Make a list and prioritize.

Whether you’re “just browsing” or well into your wedding planning, we recommend making a list before you go. Chances are, you can access the vendor list online, and note which ones you want to make sure to stop by. This is a great time to mark some of those wedding tasks off your checklist!

As you visit vendor booths, try to make notes as you go. This will help with the after-show analysis of who to follow-up with. Collecting all the marketing materials and loot from various booths will give you info to reference once you’re in the comfort of home. Then you can pursue booking meetings and negotiating with vendors in a more intimate setting after the show.

6. Narrow down your options

After a bridal show, you will most likely arrive home with a pile of magazines, business cards, and flyers. To help organize and keep down the clutter, go through everything once and determine what you really need and what you want to keep. Toss the rest. You’ll find that some vendors are out of your price range or that you may have doubles of some things. You might choose to keep mostly business cards since they’re small but hold all the vendor’s information.

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Savvy tip:

Get clear business card sleeves for your wedding planning binder to organize your bridal show findings, vendor business cards, coupons, and more.

7. Enjoy a day of wedding fun!

Finally, and most importantly, have fun. Between perusing the booths and tasting food samples, watching fashion shows, or dancing to the live entertainment, there are often many fun activities to participate in at wedding shows.

While a wedding expo can be a great place to find good deals, they’re also a fun outing to bond with your wedding party, see gorgeous wedding gowns, take pictures in a photo booth, and just generally get you in the wedding spirit. No matter who you go with, what you enter for, or who you talk to… remember to have fun. You’re a bride, and they’re there for you… so eat it up, BSB!

Are you going to attend a bridal show? 

Bridal expos are a great opportunity to chat with potential vendors, get ideas, and enter into awesome giveaways. By attending bridal shows, brides and grooms can win any number of things from free engagement photo sessions, free wedding suit or tuxedo rentals, or even a free honeymoon. Plus, you’ll likely get some freebies, coupons, discounts, and more. Catering companies and bakeries often give out free food and cake samples for taste testing, so you won’t leave hungry!

We hope these tips help anyone who attends a bridal show in the future. Using these tips will help you make the most of going to a bridal show. What’s the harm in attending? Often, the tickets are reasonably priced with general admission around $5-25, depending on the area, and you just may find some great vendors for your big day. And even if you don’t, it’s also just a great way to have some fun with your girlfriends, get excited about wedding planning and eat some yummy cake samples!

So if you’re a bride-to-be, be on the lookout for bridal showcases in your area. The cost of admission is generally low, plus you’ll likely get some tasty wedding cake samples. Just be sure to keep an eye out for any of these Bridal Show Scams.

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Jessica Bishop Headshot

Jessica Bishop is the founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com, and has worked in various areas and roles within the wedding industry since 2007. She is the author of the best-selling book,The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer and also hosts The Bouquet Toss Wedding Planning Podcast. Jessica's expert wedding advice and savvy savings tips have been featured by Good Morning America, COSMOPOLITAN, Glamour, and more.