My top tips for visiting wedding fairs...
(spoiler - always eat the cake!)
I've recently been lucky enough to attend a range of wedding fairs across the South West, with my stand and my camera, chatting to loads of lovely couples looking for natural wedding photography on their big day.
As with so many things involved with wedding planning, you may not have any experience of going to wedding fairs before or know what to expect. With that in mind, I've put together a few top tips to help you get the most out of going to wedding fairs.
Scroll to the end to see a selection of images I've taken at recent fairs and see which ones I will be at this spring!*
Do your research
There are so many wedding fairs out there now you are spoilt for choice, but it also means you can find the perfect one for you.
There are the large national and regional fairs such as The National Wedding Show or Bride - these are usually big events, are great for giving you lots of choice, or may be a little overwhelming.
You could look at the great selection of local wedding fairs which focus on exhibiting suppliers from the area - I've worked with Spiral Events, Pretty and Punk and Margot's Wedding which have all been brilliant fairs to attend.
Some fairs also work to a niche, like the alternative Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza, the inclusive Nu Bride Wedding Show or the new Ethical Wedding Show from Magpie Weddings.
Or many wedding venues hold open days. This can be a great opportunity to look round your ideal wedding venue, see it beautifully dressed and chat to suppliers who have worked with them before.
Whatever you choose, don't be afraid to give a few wedding fairs a go!
This one may sound a little cheesy, but make your own wedding specific email address. Nothing fancy, something like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com - make sure it's not something you're embarrassed to give out to wedding suppliers! Having a special email for all things wedding related means that you can both have access to the inbox, everything is all in one place, and you can just archive it after your wedding so you don't have to worry about special offers on wedding cake emails coming through 6 months after your big day.
Sometimes suppliers will have special offers, discounts or competitions running at a wedding fair. Leave your name and email address to get access to these offers which might save you a few quid in your budget (maybe add it to the honeymoon pot?). Having said this, don't feel pressured to buy anything on the day if you're not 100% sure. Most wedding fairs today don't have too much of the hard sell, but it's OK to go home and think about something before getting your credit card out.
See who will be there
Many wedding fairs will share which vendors will be at their fairs in advance, meaning you can look up their website and Instagram and put together a list of those who you love and really want to talk to. If it's a big wedding fair this can be a great idea to make sure you prioritise who you speak to and don't miss anyone out when you get distracted by the free alcoholic candy floss samples... (this is a real thing - check out Blake Entertainment!)
Make a date of it!
Wedding planning should definitely be fun! Turn a wedding fair trip into a date weekend by planning in a lush breakfast or cosy dinner date around it with some special time for just the two of you. Planning a wedding can easily get hectic and all-consuming so making time for you as a couple is always a good idea.
Time it right
Think about when you want to go to get the most out of your visit. Does the fair have a limited number of goody bags and bubbles on arrival that you're dying to get your hands on? Then going earlier in the day might be a good idea (but expect a crowd). Go over lunchtime to get some quality chatting time with suppliers you're interested in - there's usually a bit of a lull so you're more likely to get their full attention for longer.
Whenever you go, make sure to take your time. Walk round once to get your bearings, and then go for a second lap and speak to any suppliers who really caught your eye.
Get in on the action
Does the fair include any demonstrations or workshops you want to have a go at? Are there performances or catwalks you want to watch? Make sure you know what's happening in advance so you can plan. If there's a great flower crown workshop (like Holly Florist did at the Margot's Wedding fair in Worthing) you might want to bring some friends along and all have a go! If there's a performance from a wedding singer you fancy booking (hello Katy Kelly Vocalist and Coast Acoustic) you and your partner can get a preview of how they work.
Keep a record
Take a notebook and pen with you to jot down any notes, thoughts or great ideas that you have at the fair. Take a bag for any flyers and business cards you pick up. You know as soon as you get home it will all fly out your head! Or take snaps on your phone and save them to a 'wedding inspo' folder to look back on.
Wedding fairs are a great opportunity to ask any questions you have - suppliers are generally really friendly and want to help. Get tips, advice and learn from the pros!
Making a personal connection with your suppliers is so important, and will help you feel confident that they get you and your wedding vision.
Eat the cake samples, drink the bubbly, have that make up trial, try on that wedding jacket or dress, pull silly faces in the photobooth. Give everything a go and make the most of all the excitement!
If you are planning your wedding, want to try out my tips or are looking for a natural and relaxed wedding photographer, you can visit me at the following fairs this year...
*(Edit March 2020) Obviously some of these fairs have now had to be postponed, but I will update as soon as I know more and hope to see some of you there!
Spiral Events Wedding Fair at South Winchester Golf Club - Sunday 29 March, 10am-1pm - POSTPONED
Spiral Events Interactive Wedding Fair at Macdonald Botley Park Hotel - Sunday 26 April, 11am-3pm - POSTPONED
Spiral Events Summer Wedding Fair at Winchester Guildhall - Sunday 7 June, 11am-3pm
Pretty and Punk Autumn Wedding Fair at Winchester Guildhall - Sunday 6 September, 11am-3pm