Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wedding Fairs - I am no expert but here are a few tips!

I recently exhibited at my first Wedding Fair in over 10 years! Before I tell you how I prepared myself and how the day went, I want to give a short insight into the pro's and con's of wedding fairs and how to choose the correct wedding fair for you.
Sue Bowler
Wedding arrangement with Fantasy Flowers, Hearts and Bubbles

Firstly, why exhibit at a Wedding Fair? The obvious answer is of course to take bookings for weddings!

Maybe it is not as simple as that, I know the reason I wanted to do a wedding fair after so many years was to re-establish myself as an event decorator within my area, one that would be noticed not only by the brides visiting the fair but also by the other exhibitors and the venue itself!

Other Exhibitors
This would give me the perfect opportunity to network with fellow bridal business's such as photographers, cake makers and bridal wear companies and build relationships with them, which could be great for referrals and other potential leads, and not necessarily for weddings!

 Missenden Abbey - photograph by Mark Sisley

The Venue
I was also very keen for the local venue to see my work, the venue is beautiful (see above) and very popular as a wedding venue. It was very rewarding to hear the hotel wedding coordinator say that they had never seen such beautiful balloon decor, however, they also said that they were not very keen to have balloons in their venue due to a highly sensitive ceiling alarm system and previous bad experiences with balloons being released and causing the alarm to go off! I told them that I total understood and informed them I can create beautiful event decor that is totally air-filled and that the decor that I had created for my stand was in fact 90% air-filled decor... this again was information well received by the venue and I hope that this will make my company stand out over others who may not offer the same reassurances and solutions to potential problems.

Sue Bowler
Bride created by Sue Bowler cba
The Brides
Brides visit wedding fairs for inspiration, information and to make a few key bookings. What better way to meet brides face to face and showcase your work!

Your personality will go a long way to securing business at a wedding fair. Are you bubbly and outgoing? Do you find it easy to start a conversation with a stranger? Are you confident enough to really sell your business, without being pushy? (Or do you have a friend who would come with you and help out with that side of things?!)

For a lot of wedding businesses, personality is a key selling point. If brides like you, you'll get their business. It's simple when you look at it that way! 

Which Wedding Fairs should you choose to exhibit at?
There's a massive difference between a local wedding fair in a hotel and a national wedding exhibition.

The first major difference is the cost of exhibiting. Local wedding fairs are less expensive, they can vary in price depending on the venue and location but are generally in the hundreds rather than the thousands of pounds or dollars unlike a major regional exhibition that really can cost that much!  Major exhibitions have booths of different sizes, and will charge per square foot for your stand space.
Sue Bowler
Wedding Centerpiece- design created by Sue Bowler cba

Personally, I cannot see the benefit of exhibiting at one of the major regional shows. Brides travel from far and wide to visit these events which means that many of the wedding locations will be too far for you to travel to, I know that I will only want to take bookings within a defined region, this can be determined by miles or travel time, I suggest taking a map and create a distance circle from your starting point, remember, you could get bookings on the same day at the furthest distant points, so be careful not to make your boundary too wide!
So my recommendation is to exhibit locally, it is less expensive and you will get many more bookings from local fairs, maybe selected 2 or 3 venue based wedding fairs within your defined area, this way you will really establish yourself within the area you wish to work in.
You may also find that the venue and or other exhibitors may well want you to decorate their stand or the venue, this could offset some of your costs!

Choose your wedding fairs carefully, ask lots of questions, find out who else will be exhibiting, check to see how many of any of one business type is exhibiting, too many and your opportunities to generate business reduces! Make sure that the venue holding the wedding fair is balloon friendly, they may have restrictions due to alarms, such as the venue that I exhibited at, but as long as you know you can be prepared and design your decor accordingly.

Find out how the fairs will be advertised, to ensure a good attendance the fairs need to be well promoted and advertised.

Do as much research as possible to ensure you are booking the right wedding fair for you.
I would often recommend attending a wedding fair before exhibiting at them, but if like me you are keen to get going then you may just have to speculate to accumulate!

Once you have made the decision to exhibit you need to prepare yourself to maximise your opportunities.

To find out more about my wedding fair experience watch out for my next blog where I will give you tips & hints on how to prepare yourself for a wedding fair.
Sue Bowler
I love the 4" Hearts displayed in a vase, they make great favors, gifts and show off the pastel pearl range beautifully!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, Thanks for sharing this idea, there was different kind of venue that can be found on this Venue Finder Australia and I'm sure that there was also a corporate venue there that I need to visit.