This is the time of year a lot of couples get engaged, so it follows that a lot of wedding fairs and bridal shows are coming up. For most newly engaged couples, this is the first time they've gone through this and they have no clue about what to do next. They do what thousands of other couples are doing - they attend bridal shows (at least the bride-to-be does, along with mom and possibly the bridesmaids). We've done a wedding, or two, and have a few suggestions for surviving what can be more confusing than helpful, if you're not prepared - the wedding fair.
These days, most shows will have some kind of website - take the time to find them online and see which vendors will be attending the show, what special activities might be happening and when and, possibly, if there are advanced registration discounts or coupons. That's right, most of the wedding fairs and bridal shows do charge a nominal fee for attending the show. After all, you'll be getting a ton of 'free' stuff!
Next - and this is probably the most important tip - have some specific questions for vendors you visit - ask a florist about seasonal flowers for the time of your wedding or a caterer about options for people with food allergies or reception venues for room rate bundles for guests. That way, you can make the most of the conversation with the vendors, who have done this numerous times.
Finally, use the show to narrow down the vendors on your short list, not to make a final decision. Don't get pressured by 'show-only' deals. You're under no obligation to pick your florist, caterer, photographer or venue at your first show - if you're not sure, take the contact information from the vendor and get back with them later. This is a time to meet people face-to-face and get to know them a little. Character goes a long way towards providing you with a memorable and trouble-free wedding day.