Monica and I have been vendors at 2 wedding shows in the past few months. We've learned a lot from both and we wanted to share some tips, advice and some hard lessons with you in case you're thinking of doing a show yourself as a wedding vendor.
- We realised after the first show, we don't really like the mainstream shows. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of vendors who do well at these shows, but we didn't feel like "our" bride was there. We put a lot of effort into a great set up (which people could NOT stop taking photos of :) ) but nothing really panned out from our first one. Our second one was better and easier, but that was because of lessons we learned. Still, just not our cup of tea.
- Don't pay for 2 shows at the same time, even if the bridal show is offering you a discount. That is unless you have done the show before and you KNOW you'll want to do it again in a few months. We got a great discount for booking two, and we will never do that again. :) We knew after the first one that we didn't want to do another one, but we couldn't get our money back.
What happens before the show?
- The wedding show will email you details about the venue, how to get in and out and any other pertinent information.
- Make sure you have marketing materials printed out ahead of time, so you are not rushing around to get them done. You'll be handing out a LOT of cards, so get extras.
- Discuss what you want your booth to look like. Pick a color theme and go with it. My advice would be to have all of that done and taken care of the week before the show. You don't want to be scrambling around the evening before.
- Get REST the night before. You will be on your feet the whole next day, so take care of yourself.
Things to help you survive the day:
- Grab coffee and breakfast in the morning, on the way to the show. Start the day out right!
- Bring snacks and water. Most shows need 2 people at the booth at a time because it's so busy, so don't think you're getting away for a break. Unfortunately it's about 5 hours of non-stop talking, which can be great, but can also really wear you out. No one wants a hangry wedding vendor.
- Bring supplies that could help you out in those "uh oh" moments, like: tape, scissors, thumbtacks, hammer, screwdriver, windex, paper towels etc. You never know when you might need something like this, depending on what your set up is, so come extra prepared. You can't really leave once you are there.
- Don't have a super hard set up. Our first set up had a couch, a vanity, a dresser, a bar cart and then little bits of decor on top of that. We were in and out of the freight elevator and had to rent a Uhaul. If your set up can stick to just the 6 foot table the show provides you and some extras, your life will be much easier.
- Use clear bins to bring your items to the show and bring a dolly. This will help you pack everything up really easily and make one trip in and out by stacking the boxes on top of the dolly.
- Bring a pretty table cloth and signage. The wedding show provides a very basic cloth and usually an ugly sign. Bring something cute that represents your company.
- Bring business cards and any other marketing material you want to hand out.
- Smile and welcome people into your booth to check out your work. They don't always just stop, you have to make them want to.
- If you have a fun little gift you can give out, do it! Our first show we created small muslin bags of taffy that acted as favors. Everyone really loved it.
- Bring a clipboard with a sign up sheet for your newsletter. This way you can collect your own emails and start reaching out, before the show sends you their database.
What happens after the show?
- Depending on the show, they will send you a database within 2 weeks with all of the attendees email addresses. This way you can start emailing newsletters or special deals.
- Collect receipts for items you spent on the show, as well as show payments, and log them into your business expenses for the year. You want to be ready for tax time when it comes!
- Decide whether or not you want to do another show. There are some fun boutique shows that don't cost as much as the big shows. For example, The Great Bridal Expo was $1000 each show, and that included a 2 show discount. (blah!). Some of the smaller shows have more boutique style vendors and can be as cheap as $250 for a booth!
There are so many wedding shows to pick from. If you decide to do one, try to find one that fits your niche well and make sure you're prepared. Wedding shows usually start taking applications 6 months before the show, so get in early if you can.
Hopefully this helped one of you lovely wedding vendors. If you have any advice or other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
Keeping you Stylish!