The best advice that I can give to someone who is starting to plan a wedding is to find local bridal shows and events going on close by. I have been to three so far and have enjoyed each one of them. Not only are they helpful for ideas, but you can enter a ton of raffles and have the possibility of winning something for your wedding.
Not all bridal shows are free but this website has a list of all of the bridal shows going on in Virginia this year. VA Bridal Shows
What is a Bridal Show?
Bridal shows can be held just about anywhere such as an expo center or in a reception area that a venue is promoting. The first bridal show I went to was in a conference room at a Sheraton hotel. The other two I attended were much smaller with one held at a golf course club house and the other at an old inn located in downtown Fredericksburg. All kinds of vendors go to these shows and set up tables displaying their products or services. At the shows I have been to, there have been different photographers, caterers, decorators and planners. The main purpose of bridal shows is to give brides the opportunity to meet with different vendors and learn about their different services.
The best part of the bridal shows is entering the raffles that the different vendors have (who doesn’t like free stuff?). The bridal show I attended at the Gauntlet golf course in Fredericksburg had various products and services being raffled off. One of the photographer’s booths really caught my eye. I decided that her work was something I would be interested in for my wedding pictures so I got her card with prices and other information. I then put my info into her raffle which was for a free engagement photo session. I found out a few days after the bridal show that I won this raffle. If I had not gone to this event I wouldn’t have known anything about this photographer and definitely wouldn’t have the opportunity to win a raffle.
Raffles are definitely one of the best things about these shows but what I found most beneficial was talking with the vendors. They were willing to give me some estimates and talk with me about how they run their business. Although all of these people have websites, not all of them list their prices. Some of the photographers I looked up in my area don’t list their wedding picture prices directly to their website. I’m not sure why most of them do this, but it is convenient to talk to multiple photographers and get their information all in one place. If anyone is interested here is the photographer’s website that I won the engagement session from. Anita Brenchley Photography
Free food is always a great thing! It’s always important to know what a caterer’s food tastes like as well as a venue. Even though you can set up appointments to do taste-testing, my mom and I decided to take the chance to try the food at the Gauntlet during their open house bridal show. There was also cake tastings offered through a local bakery (which was amazingly delicious). I really like how they do samples at these types of events because it adds options to your menu.
Are they necessary to go to?
Even though I’m only in the early stages of my planning, I felt extremely informed after I left each bridal show I went to. If you want to find a vendor, taste food and have the chance to win stuff for your wedding, bridal shows are the place to be. As stated earlier, talking with the different vendors was very helpful. I told them what I was looking for, and they told me what they had to offer. If you’re serious about finding a vendor right on the spot they can book you right there. I wouldn’t say bridal shows are necessary to go to but I have learned so much from each one. It’s also great when you want to check out the venue where the shows will be.