How Couples Can Use Wedding Fairs to Plan Their Budget Wedding

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First, these fairs are no joke – there are a BUTTLOAD of vendors there and it is crowded and LOUD. It truly is an amazing opportunity to find the perfect service provider, venue, or score a most excellent deal. In fact, my BF actually found her venue and vendors at a wedding expo and she couldn’t have been happier with them! However, wedding fairs can quickly become daunting and confusing – so come prepared. Here’s a few tips and bits of advice on how couples can use wedding fairs to plan their budget wedding.

Literally the day after I got my rock, I learned that San Antonio had a wedding expo planned a few weeks later. I was bit leery of attending a wedding fair (I used to be a buyer for a sporting goods store and always found expos and fairs super overwhelming) but I decided to go anyway. And I'm so glad that I did! Because, while super crowded and screamy, wedding fairs can be a mecca for couples planning a budget wedding!

How Couples Can Use Wedding Fairs to Plan Their Budget Wedding

First, these fairs are no joke – there are a BUTTLOAD of vendors there and it is crowded and LOUD. It truly is an amazing opportunity to find the perfect service provider, venue, or score a most excellent deal. In fact, my BF actually found her venue and vendors at a wedding expo and she couldn’t have been happier with them! However, wedding fairs can quickly become daunting and confusing – so come prepared. Here’s a few tips and bits of advice on how couples can use wedding fairs to plan their budget wedding.

Do your homework to make the best use of your time. Visit the expo’s website and download directions, read through the FAQs for tips and suggestions, and know the entrance fee. It's also helpful to establish objectives or priorities before you go. Decide what you are trying to get from the show so that you can make sure to concentrate on those needs – these HUGE expos can get overwhelming quickly so having a plan is essential. For example, my wedding fair priorities were: to find and book a photographer, to scout rental supply companies, and to find a few potential cake vendors (should we decide to use one).

Take one person with you. Even if you are planning to attend the show together, take an unbiased third party. They will prove invaluable. They can help carry stuff, track down vendors or deals, get snacks, help stand in lines, and so on. It's like having a personal assistant.

Dress appropriately and score a deal. Wear underwear. Some bridal salons actually sell sample gowns on site and, if you're wearing undies, they may let you try them on and negotiate a deal!

Be honest about your budget. Seriously, don't mess around and waste everyone's time. Be up front about your budget with every salesperson and vendor. Some may have unadvertised specials or cancellations that they are looking to fill (with a killer deal). Or, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who is similar to them but within your budget and a fellow professional.

Check out Look Books and personalities. Any good vendor will have a Look Book (a portfolio of images of their work [or a video]) and you should absolutely look through every single one to get an idea of exactly what they offer and how consistent their work is. Also, TALK to them. It doesn't matter how lovely their work is or within your budget they are – if you don't mesh… you don't mesh and you never will.

Take sticker self-address labels and enter EVERY contest. Sure, you’ll get TONS of emails and even phone calls after but you could win something amazing. Sometimes, it's an entire wedding or honeymoon. Or the wedding bands! So why not give it a try?

Go with your gut. If the deal or vendor seems too good to be true – then it probably is. Be sure to check out every single reference for (and do a little online sleuthing about) every single vendor… ESPECIALLY the cheap ones. Generally speaking, a cheap vendor is cheap because, well, they're cheap (and not the good kind). If your gut tells you to walk away – DO IT.

Look for show deals (and bring $$$). Many vendors have items for sale at these shows (and at great day-only prices!) or special show booking promotions only for people who put down a deposit that day. That’s actually how I found my dream photographer. I happened to stroll past her booth and was impressed with her images – I was able to book her for my wedding date on-the-spot because I had my checkbook in my hands. Do not lose the opportunity to hire your “must-have” vendor or score a fabulous deal because you came unarmed for monetary battle!

Looking for a wedding expo in your area? Check your local newspapers, listen for ads on the radio, or type “wedding expo [your location]’ into your favorite search engine – something’s bound to come up.

Any tips or advice to add for those planning on attending a bridal expo?