You’re freshly engaged— so first off, congratulations! Second off, you might be wondering where to even start looking for vendors. You’ve heard of these events called wedding fairs and open houses, but you’re not quite sure what to expect—or what the difference between the two even is! In this post, we’ll help you figure out what to expect from these events and how to get the most out of them!
We’ll get more into the details below, but a quick introduction is that wedding fairs are bigger convention style fairs where vendors pay to set up a booth. Usually, you have to buy a ticket to walk around for a couple of hours with vendors trying to sell you their services.
The pros of a wedding fair is that they are really high energy and fun, and you have plenty of choices when it comes to vendors. The energy of them can also be a con though, as they tend to get a bit chaotic. Even though the busy-ness can be overwheleming, it’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of vendors and get a lot of wedding inspiration all in one spot.
Wedding open houses, on the other hand are more of an intimate event, but you will have less choice in vendors.
It’s also worth noting that caterers, bakers and bartenders often have samples available for you to try!
January and February are the most popular months for wedding planning events, so keep your eye on local events announcements now!
So, how do you stay organized and get the information you need in the midst of the chaos? Here are the top questions we would ask, as well as a few things to watch for:
The vendors at a wedding fair paid for a space to be there, which means that you will encounter a variety of experience levels. Some vendors will be well established, while some will just be starting out, and others are doing theirs as a hobby.
Some vendors will be very professional in their approach towards you, while others may be pushy and just want to sell you stuff, with very little conversation. This can get wearisome as you walk through, so just be prepared for that. Most people are very friendly about it though, and if you simply say, “I’m not interested”, they will back off.
It can be good to go in with a bit of a plan to help you stay focused in the chaos too. “I need a cake, a DJ, and flowers. That’s what I’m focusing on today” can go a long way. For help putting together a list of everything you need for your wedding, check out this post, or this one!
If you’re thinking about your budget and trying to save money where you can, wedding fairs can be an excellent opportunity. Often, vendors will offer a “show special”. Not all of them do, but if you are really interested in a vendor you meet, it’s worth asking if it’s something they are doing!
Do you have a date yet? If not, that is fine too, but if you are hoping to book anyone at the fair it can be helpful to have one. On that note, a rough guest count can be helpful in making decisions too.
Most vendors won’t book you if you don’t have a date, so if you are going to the fair looking to book people, just keep that in mind.
Another thing to think about is how fast dates book up. Here in Texas, many venues and vendors book up really far in advance. Saturdays always book first, and we suggest booking at least 12-18 months in advance if you are looking for a Saturday.
Having a set date also helps you cross reference that date with the other vendors that you are interested in to make sure they are all available. If they are already booked for your date, you at least have the option of other vendors at the show.
Another good question to ask at wedding fair booths is “are you the salesperson or are you the person who is actually going to show up on the wedding day?
For some vendors, like the florist or other decorators, it may not matter as much because they are just dropping it off and leaving.
However, vendors like your planner, photographer, and DJ are going to be interacting with you and your guests all day and you want to make sure that your personalities mesh (although not all DJ’s would be in your space as much as Dominic is)!
So when you’re at the wedding fair and you’re going around meeting different people, you might find that the person baking the cake that you absolutely love has a more prickly personality. That might be fine because they are just dropping it off on the wedding day.
However, when you’re talking to potential wedding planners, you want to make sure that you mesh with them and that they share your approach to your wedding vision since you will be spending so much time with them from the day you book until after the wedding.
Because you are interacting with them in person, it’s easier for you to tell if they are still passionate about what they do. This happens in every industry, not just weddings, but there are always those people who are tired of their job, and just haven’t gotten to the point of closing up shop yet. It can really bring down the energy of a wedding to have a vendor like that on staff.
Another good way to research your potential vendors is through their social media and customer reviews. Social gives you a really good idea of their energy and how dedicated they are to making your day amazing.
Reviews can be found on Google or their website, and if you can’t find any there, ask on a local social media group if anyone has used them
Visiting their website will give you a good idea of how established they are and how much they invest in their business as well!
Of course, we are all human and have our bad days, but this is your only wedding day, and you want to make sure you aren’t hiring people for your special day that have a reputation of bringing negative energy to events.
While you are checking out vendor personalities, you will also want to look at their style to make sure it matches your vision for your wedding.
Photographers. videographers, decorators, and even planners usually have very distinct styles (rustic, modern, etc) that they stick to. As you walk through the fair, you’ll get to see the vast variety and see which ones you are drawn to. You might notice that as you browse, a vision for your day starts to really form in your mind, and you’ll get more and more clear on what you want.
Looking to book a venue at the wedding fair? Vendors will usually make it easier for you to decide by having an album of photos available. Can you see yourself getting married there?
Here are a few questions to ask that can help set the direction for the rest of your vendor decisions later:
As we mentioned above, knowing your date and guest count can help you have the right conversations so you can make these types of decisions as you’re ready. Need extra help? Check out this post for all of our tips!
Everything so far has been about wedding fairs, but what about a wedding open house? What’s the difference?
A wedding open house often happens on a Sunday and is held at a venue location instead of a convention center. Instead of vendors paying for space, the venue invites their preferred vendors to showcase their skills and meet with couples in a more intimate setting.
Open houses are casual and low key, and often they only have one vendor from each category. The calm atmosphere makes it easier to make decisions and have meaningful conversations. You may have only one vendor to book, and if the open house has their preferred vendor, it is a great opportunity to meet them in person.
There are some larger open houses that have more choices, but the real difference is that the venue only invites vendors that they know are well established and trustworthy, which can help make your decision making process less stressful.
We hope that this post helps you feel more prepared as you head into this exciting time of planning your wedding. The more prepared you are, the more fun and stress free the process will be!
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Happy wedding planning!
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