Whether he or she just popped the question last night, or you’re tying up the loose ends of your big day, wedding/bridal shows can be a big help to every bride-to-be. But how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of each show you attend? Here’s some things to keep in mind for the next show you attend- in between munching on those delicious cake samples!

1. Bring printed out contact label stickers. Some shows will do this for you- which is a big help. But if not, create a sticker sheet with your name, email, phone number, and mailing address. Vendors that you are interested in will ask you for this information so you can keep in contact with each other, and pre-printed stickers are awesome! You save time and the information will be readable (no questionable handwriting!).

2. If it’s possible to bring your fiancé, do! Even if he thinks he’ll be bored to tears or says he is ok with you making all of the decisions, it’s good to have him there. Some brides feel hesitant making final decisions or looking further into a vendor without their fiancé’s input, and this can delay the decision-making process. And most of the time, the fiancé has a great time!

3. Only ask the decision-makers of your wedding to come with you to the show. If this includes either of your parents, bring them! If you two are the only ones responsible financially and making all of the final decisions, then consider bringing one or two people (max!) whose opinion matters to you- maybe your Maid of Honor has an eye for floral arrangements or your fiancé’s brother is the best-dressed in the family and can help out with choosing tuxes. Bringing too many people with you can be overwhelming!

4. Go into the show knowing what you want. Doing some preliminary research on some vendors and figuring out what you want your wedding to look/feel like is a big help. Prioritizing your vendors is important, too. If you know that photography is your number one priority and flowers are somewhere at the bottom of the list, then spend most of your time talking to the photographers and leave the florists for last. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to get a feeling of which photographer might be the right vendor for you and if you run out of time for talking to florists, it’s ok.

5. Come early and leave late. Try to get to the show as on-time as possible and leave at the very end of the show. This ensures you have enough time to check out all the vendors and not feel rushed. Plus, sometimes shows give away prizes from the vendors at the end- but you have to present to win!

6. Take the time to talk to the vendors. I can guarantee that if you don’t take the proper amount of time to talk to the vendors you’re interested in, you’ll leave the bridal show the same way as you came in. The vendors are taking the time to set up a booth so they can discuss their main selling points to you. Really listen to what they’re saying and how they present themselves so you can better determine whether or not you click with them. If you really like a certain vendor, set up a consultation with them for a later date so you can continue the conversation. Sometimes, vendors will give you special deals if you do this!

7. Make a mental note on how the vendors are presenting themselves. This can include how they are dressed, how their booth looks, and how they talk to you. If someone is dressed in casual clothing, sitting behind their booth, and making no attempt to engage you in a conversation- what makes you think they’ll change they way they act for your wedding?

8. Ask the vendors questions. They will be giving you a speech about their services, but they are also there to help answer your questions. (Email me asking for a link to my online “How to Plan Your Wedding” packet for some starter questions for each of your vendors!)

Keep these points in mind next time you visit a wedding show and I know you’ll come away feeling much more satisfied!