Wedding Fairs eh?
For some people they’re the a haven of inspiration and delight.
For others they find it a harrowing experience and after the first one they have to scrub themselves in the shower for a week afterwards and vow to never to one again.
In this guide, I take my experience at exhibiting at wedding fairs over 50 times to help you make the most out of attending them!
DO understand that not all wedding fairs are created equally.
Wedding fairs come in all shapes and sizes and they fall into very different categories in terms of the quality of supplier you can expect to be at them.
Invite Only Wedding Fairs
These are almost always held at relatively expensive venues and only couples who have booked or enquired already will be invited to attend.
Attendance is normally free and you can expect the exhibitors there to be of very decent quality and expect to pay for that quality too.
They have been asked to exhibit by the venue so are in some respects representing then.
Paid Entry Wedding Fairs
Normally held at better quality venues and sometimes where there is the chance that people can just walk in off the street.
The cost of entry payable by the couples is much less about making money and more about ensuring that the people walking around the venue are actually getting married!
Once again it is a situation where the suppliers will have been vetted by the venue so expect good quality and price here.
Hotel Wedding Fairs
Hotel weddings are obviously a popular option because it solves a lot of problems in terms of accommodation.
Most hotels have a large dining area which will become the wedding fair space for the day. It’s important to understand that hotel guests are likely to be wandering around the fair as well which for exhibitors can be a frustration.
So just because a exhibitor doesn’t say hello straight away at these fairs it is quite possibly because the last 10 people they’ve said hello to are just wandering around the fair because it’s Sunday.
There’s nothing to say that the exhibitors here will not be of quality but the hotel will likely have just wanted to fill the spaces up.
They normally do this as a mail shot to a large volume of suppliers and it is first come/first serve. No level of quality is guaranteed.
The Company organised Wedding Fairs
These are very hit and miss depending on who the company is.
They will typically hire a venue or sometimes have a deal in place with a wedding venue and then simply fill it with as many wedding suppliers as they possibly can.
There is unlikely to be a vetting procedure as such HOWEVER the wedding fair companies that have been running for sometime will always invite those companies that fit in with their target market as a priority.
Similarly if there have been complaints or issues with suppliers they may well not be asked back again.
There is sometimes a small entry fee both to help cover costs and to stop randomers wandering around.
Village Hall Wedding Fairs
Whilst not always held in a village hall this refers to the type of fair where a person (rather than a company) has booked a hall of some description and then just filled it with whoever wants a spot there.
Expect cheaper and un-vetted suppliers in general, so great if you’re working to a tighter budget.
So, DO make sure you attend the wedding fairs that fit in with your wedding.
AND DON’T be put off by your experience of your first wedding fair
Chatting at the exclusive Lulworth Castle Wedding Showcase. Photo Credit: One Thousand Words Photography
Don’t think that this is a Craft Fair
You are unlikely to be able to walk around and purchase little trinkets for your wedding here like you would at a craft fair.
This is about again inspiration and ideas some of which might well become the back bone of your entire wedding day.
Don’t expect lots of freebies
This isn’t a trade show (if you’ve ever been to one before) where companies are giving out loads of branded freebies.
If you’re lucky you’ll get a small packet of love hearts and perhaps a branded pen. Also when it comes to the cake makers, show some respect.
Don’t just take a sample and walk off – especially if you like the cake.
Do speak to and approach (most) people
As a wedding magician I’m obviously very confident with approaching people ar wedding fairs as I have to do it all the time.
People in other professions within the wedding industry are often less confident. If they’re stood up but don’t interrupt you don’t assume that they aren’t interested in speaking to you – some people just prefer that you take the lead. However, having said that…….
Don’t speak to the rude ones
I’m going to get some hate for this. But the exhibitors sat behind their stands knitting, or reading their book or their crossword I would suggest avoiding.
All Wedding professionals should exist to try and make people’s day more special.
Whilst I’ve already mentioned that it’s fine if they don’t approach you I believe that’s altogether different to actively devoting their time to something else.
As a side note to this if someone is stood up at their stand using their phone it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not working. I personally have several apps which are running on the day to do with calendars, availability, emailing, contract sending, taking payments etc.
I’m only on my phone at a wedding fair working, a lot of exhibitors are exactly the same.
Do question why you’re just having a leaflet shoved in your hand.
This is one of my pet hates.
I’ll probably get a lot of hate from other wedding suppliers on this one but I’m here to help YOU not them.
A lot of exhibitors will approach you by simply shoving (literally) a leaflet into your hand.
This is without knowing who you are, what are wedding aspirations are, whether they’re even available for your date or location, or whether you’re even interested in what they’re selling.
It’s just BANG, TAKE A LEAFLET!
As a wedding magician I want to know about you and your plans to work out whether there’s something I can offer to help your wedding day become even better.
Have you got something planned to keep guests happy during the quieter times?
What’s breaking the ice between the two different groups of family and friends?
And obviously I want to blow you away with a quick trick too.
That turned into a rant.
Bottom line is that suppliers should care about you and your wedding and from there talk and show you what they can offer.
NOT just shove a leaflet in your hand.
Do consider new ideas
Your wedding can only be done right one way and that’s YOUR way.
Maybe you’ve been planning your wedding to it’s finest detail for the last 20 years.
Perhaps you only started thinking about it the day after you got engaged.
However the chances are the your only inspiration has come from things you’ve seen or heard of before at weddings.
The beauty of wedding fairs is that you can get a range of brand new inspiration to help make your day truly your own.
For example, a couple at my most recent wedding fair had never even heard of the idea of a magician performing at weddings but they had been talking on the drive to the venue about being worried about guests being bored.
In the 5 minutes I spent with them understanding their needs and problems it was clear that I could be a massive hit at their day.
3 days later they booked me to perform.
If they hadn’t have stopped to speak to me they’d still have that same problem to solve.
Don’t be afraid to give your contact details
Some people will be attending looking to book things in, others will be attending just to be inspired.
Let’s be completely clear, the exhibitors are attending to make money.
You can think of it as being a form of advertising for them.
They’re paying to be there to make sales, some of these will be on the day but most will come at some time after the wedding fair.
If you genuinely have an interest in booking their services at some point then leave your contact details with them.
Some people will have forms to complete, I personally take it down on my phone, other people will have iPads for you to use. And following on from this….
Do check your junk emails for the few days after the wedding fair.
Of all the things the frustrate me in the world junk/spam folders are in the top 10 (that’s a pretty severe first world problem.)
The amount of times that couples have come to book me and missed out because my emails have gone to their junk mail folder.
During that time someone else has taken their date. Or couples think that I just haven’t bothered to email them at all.
So please for the love of all things in the world check your junk mail folder for a few days after the wedding fair and ADD the suppliers you like to your whitelist/safe senders list.
Do take payment methods with you.
Whether it’s credit/debit card or cold hard cash, take it with you in case you want to book something there and then.
Wedding suppliers have paid (often quite a chunk of money) to be exhibiting plus taking a full day out to work unpaid at wedding fairs.
Most good wedding fair exhibitors will have incentives if you book in with them on the day.
This might be money off or even better free bonus extras. As an add on to this….
Don’t mistake suppliers being keen to book you in on the day with pressure or hard selling.
If you’re showing that you’re keen on a suppliers’ product or service and you’re getting on well then the chances are the supplier is feeling the same thing.
Their enthusiasm for you to make a booking will come from wanting to give a great service to someone they’re getting on with – it isn’t a money driven thing.
This isn’t hard or pressure selling.
If someone is making you offers and continuously trying to say stuff to make you stay at your stand and trying to make you book when you’re clearly not interested – THAT is pressure selling in a nut-shell.
If I’m getting on well with a couple and they’re getting on with me and we agree on service and price there’s literally no reason not to book, right?
I’ve had people not book on the day, contact me a month later and be so disappointed that their wedding date has been taken by someone else.
Much like many other wedding suppliers there is only ONE of ME – once I’m booked for a date, that’s it.
Do judge on appearance
Oooooh I can feel the daggers being stared at me as I’ve written that but please carry on reading before judging.
I want to be absolutely plain I’m not talking about attractiveness or anything like that. There is definitely no correlation between someone’s ability to do their job as a wedding supplier and how subjectively pleasing they are on the eye.
What I’m talking about is the effort they’ve made on themselves and their stand as a business.
Remember this is someone who is going to part of your wedding day.
They and their business should be in keeping with their style and branding. I
f they can’t be bothered to brush their teeth, or check their shirt is tucked in or ensure their trousers aren’t tucked into their socks – what level of attention do you think they are capable of on your wedding day?
For me I typically work towards the higher end of the market at the more expensive venues.
I always come dressed in a 3-piece suit, my branding and stand fit in with this idea as well.
No matter how good I am as a magician you’d feel pretty disappointed and uninterested if I turned up in trackie bottoms and a hoodie and said “Yeah, watch I’m really good at magic, but it’s sunday so I’m lazing around but I’ll wear a suit on the day”.
Same applies to any other wedding supplier, unless it’s completely against their branding then they should look smart and presentable.
As should their stand as well.
Do judge promotional material.
Most wedding exhibitors will leave you with some form of flyer, booklet, brochure or business card to take away.
I’m firmly of the belief that you can learn a lot about the business by how much investment they’ve put into this.
If they’re a company that works at low price and high volume (which is absolutely fine) then they’ll be trying to get flyers printed and designed for pennies.
That obviously makes complete sense.
If however someone is claiming to be a high end/luxury wedding supplier and they hand you what feels like it’s printed on takeaway menu paper and designed themselves on MS Paint then questions need to be asked!
Do ask questions
Any wedding supplier should be happy answering any question about their business or weddings in general.
Experience counts for a lot in this industry and good suppliers should happily be able to help you out whatever your question is.
If you don’t understand something that they’ve said in their sales pitch don’t be afraid to ask them to explain further.
You might even be doing them a favour by doing so as it’ll allow them to make sure their explaining themselves more clearly with future couples.
Do have fun and get excited!
I bloody love wedding fairs, getting to know people and hearing them getting excited about their weddings is an uplifting experience.
Weddings and wedding planning should be fun.
If you’ve got some crazy plan of something you want to happen on your wedding day tell a supplier, they might have even seen it before somewhere or know someone who can help.
Wedding Supplier Group Shot before Lulworth Castle Wedding Showcase. Photo Credit: One Thousand Words Photography
Get yourself to suitable wedding fairs and you will leave with inspiration or maybe even bookings.
The most important thing is to go to the right ones for you. Organising a booking suppliers is such a personal thing – if someone is trying to shove a leaflet in your hand or sell to you straight off the bat and it feels wrong it’s probably because it is.
The best wedding suppliers will be trying to form an understanding of you, your partner and your wedding aspirations to see if they are a good fit or not.
It should almost feel like the start of a friendship.