Monday, January 18, 2010

Navigating a Wedding Expo: The Ins & Outs

The hottest wedding trends and fashions of 2010 were on display this weekend in Northern Virginia during The Great Bridal Expo at Alexandria’s Hilton at Mark Center! From the grab bags to the cake samples and fashion show, Stephen and I had a great time gathering ideas and inspiration for our own wedding and others’. But an expo can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. Here, my top tips for navigating a bridal show to get the most out of your experience.

Do arrive early. At the expo I attended, which was held on a Saturday during peak engagement season, the parking lot filled about an hour into the event, causing many eager brides to give up. Arriving ahead of time or right after the event has started also helps guarantee a lighter check-in line, plus shorter wait times when visiting popular vendor booths. If you can, it’s a great idea to purchase your tickets online in advance, too.

Do bring moral support, but only one or two people. Nothing is worse than not being able to have your questions answered because there’s a bride ahead of you with an entourage of nine blocking the entire pathway. Don’t be that bride.

Don’t lock yourself into a vendor’s services without scheduling a follow-up appointment. The atmosphere at an expo is fun and fast-paced, and it may be tempting to strike a contract or schedule a hair trial right then and there, especially when discounts and deals come into play. However, I definitely recommend lining up a more personalized meeting with the vendor, where you can go over your wedding plans in detail, before nailing anything down.

Do go to an expo soon after your engagement, but once you’ve already gathered a few ideas. The brides who seemed to get the most out of the fair were those who had at least done a little wedding research beforehand, and came prepared with some general ideas about themes, wedding styles, and location options. This allowed them to get a much better feel for which vendors meshed with their needs, and which they didn’t need to waste time with.

Do know which vendors you still need to hire, which services you want, and which questions you must ask. Vendors’ expo booths are continuously swamped, so you’re more likely to have your questions answered during what may be a quick conversation if you’re prepared ahead of time.

And finally, do take advantage of all the great raffles, giveaways and drawings, plus the free cake! I think these are without a doubt the most fun parts of any bridal show. And who knows? You just might win a free honeymoon, so don’t miss out! Just be sure to bring along printouts with your name, address and contact info to make entering the contests a lot quicker and easier.

Have you gotten ideas or found great vendors at bridal shows? What are your tips for a fun time?

(Photo Credits: Stephen Walrath)


  1. Great tips! I attended one bridal fair, but it was a little lacking in terms of what it had to offer. I will be sure to tell my future sister-in-law to check out this post, since she'll probably be attending a show or two in the near future!

  2. I went to my first bridal fair within a month of being engaged for the sole purpose of getting ideas and seeing whats out there. It was the best one I've been to so far! Now I go to them for vendors. I think I've been to 4 in total. These are great pointers!

  3. I am so glad I never have to go to another bridal fair!

    Love your new picture

  4. Good tips! The wedding expos can be quite overwhelming and good idea to advise not to get caught up in the atmosphere and to just set up another meeting.
    I'm also glad I don't have to go to any more!

  5. I have about four months left before my wedding and I have yet to go to a bridal expo. My fiance will def NOT go with me and I'm never sure if its worth my time. Thanks for these tips though. I will pass them on.