I just love going to bridal fairs. For wedding buffs like me, it's like wedding heaven filled with flowers, reception decor, sumptuous food, beautiful gowns, jewelry, great music, lovely photographs and videos, sugar-filled treats and wines. You come home with delight, suddenly hyper or possibly intoxicated from all that cake and alcohol. If you're diabetic or allergic to alcohol, this could be a depressing place for you.
Once in a while, I drop by the bigger wedding fairs that happen every year in the metro. It's the ideal place to spot new trends and possible suppliers not just for weddings and debuts but for corporate parties and events, even children's parties! And usually during bridal fairs, the exhibitors offer discounts and freebies for those who book on the spot.
For soon-to-weds, going to bridal fairs is the perfect venue to interview possible suppliers. In one big event, you can sample their work (food, wines, cakes) , see their portfolio (flowers, reception set-ups, photographs/video, gowns, event coordination) and find out if you "click" with a particular supplier.
If it's your first time to go to a bridal fair, I would caution you into booking on the spot just because there are discounts or freebies being offered by a supplier. Chances are, you may not even need the freebies. Going to the fair is the perfect opportunity to test your emotional quotient by examining if a certain exhibitor is really worth having at your wedding or what they have is just a whim. Do you really need those fireworks? Or the vintage car for just 3 hours? If not, it would be best to simply collect then select. By "collecting", we mean being nice enough to collect all the leaflets, calling cards, pamphlets and other marketing materials that each supplier hands out as you comb the aisles. See anything you like? Make a mental note. NEVER take photos of an exhibit. You may also leave your contact numbers with them and await invitations to a food tasting or a sample concert. Then, after the fair, you can trim down your choices to your top three and give them a call based on your vision of your perfect day.
In doing a little bit of research and pinning down exactly what you want for your wedding, it will help you to decide the kind of look and feel you would expect from your potential suppliers. For inspiration, you may want to look at marthastewart.com or brides.com.
At the end of the day, choosing a good supplier needs enough discernment. Like choosing your life time partner, your suppliers should be those that you've chosen with both your mind and your heart (and possibly your wallet). Choose the ones that feel right and you can't go wrong.
On to the next fair!