Many couples (we did!) become engaged during the holidays and feel a push to begin planning their weddings immediately after New Year’s Day. Bridal shows can be a great resource because they can help you decide what you want and, perhaps more important, what you don’t want.
The first step is to discuss your total wedding budget for ceremony and reception. There are all kinds of paper and online planners and tools to help you track expenses and goals in case you need to revise your choices. No couple wants to begin married life with a big debt from the wedding. Price everything before you buy anything, and decide what’s most important to you. Each couple has different preferences and priorities.
Bridal shows run pretty much all year until about mid-autumn; the biggest and best are in January. There’s usually an admission charge, but you can often save by buying tickets in advance online.
Of course you’ll see the usual vendors for event sites, jewelers, wedding gowns, formalwear rental, caterers, florists, musicians, photographers, videographers, limousine service, gift registration services for stores, etc. You may be surprised to see booths for health insurance, home repair, banking services (mortgages, loans), weight loss, plastic surgery(!), and others you don’t usually think of in connection with wedding planning.
Bridal shows are a great place to see what’s available and compare offerings, pick up business cards and contact info, taste, look at, and listen to samples, and maybe take a photo to help you remember what you saw and heard and what you particularly liked. This can be helpful, too, if someone important to the decision process isn’t able to go with you.
Bridal shows, like most trade shows, are often held in large convention venues with concrete floors, and there can be a hundred booths, so wear comfortable shoes. Many will not permit large bags carried in, but usually vendors will be handing out large totes with their logo on it so you can toss all the material you collect in there. There’s often food for sale if you want lunch.
The shows usually culminate in a fashion show, and there are often drawings for prizes afterward. In most cases you must be present to win, but the prizes are major, like all-expenses-paid honeymoon trips to exotic locales. If you stay for the fashion show, bring your ear plugs! The cheering of several hundred excited brides and grooms can be extreme!
I’ve played for bridal shows in venues from department stores to event facilities and historic sites. On the whole I think it is time well spent if you want the convenience and the opportunity to examine and compare a variety of merchandise in one place before you buy. It can also be a lot of fun with your future mate, your parents, your best friends, or just by yourself.
See my “Future Appearances” page for a list of bridal shows where I’ll be playing.
Please call or send an email if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!