Firstly, is it wedding ‘fayre’ or wedding ‘fair’? My vote would be with the latter, but the vast majority of the wedding industry insist on sticking with historic terminology. We’re not afraid to buck the trend, so will go with ‘fair’ for the remainder of this article.
Wedding fairs can be daunting and overwhelming events for newly-engaged couples. In this blog entry, we aim to give you an insiders view of what to expect; and how to get the most out attending.
What is a wedding fair?
A wedding fair is an event open to the general public, bringing together local and national suppliers of wedding industry-based businesses, who showcase their services and products to prospective clients. Most wedding fairs are held at wedding venues and are a one-stop-shop for bridal gowns, wedding cars, florists, caterers and of course, entertainment.
When are they?
Wedding events happen all year round, but largely take place on Sunday afternoons, or otherwise during a weekday evening. There are times of the year that tend to see venues put on more events, such as January, February, October and November, when they are less likely to have Weddings booked in at the venue. Venues often advertise events on their social media pages, on their website and on banners outside their venue. Alternatively, there are a number of websites that list upcoming wedding fairs in your local region. Details of some of these are at the end of the article.
What’s the difference between a wedding fair and an open day?
Venues often host open days/evenings in addition to their wedding fairs. At these events, there generally tends to be no additional wedding suppliers, instead giving you the opportunity to walk around the dressed venue in your own time and speak to their wedding events team. Although you can do this at wedding fairs, normally the number of suppliers and other guests means that there isn’t ample opportunity to view the venue in the best light. If it’s only the venue you’re interested in, look for their open event. For everything else, wedding fairs are what you should be looking for.
Do I have to visit my wedding venue to attend?
In a word, no. Many wedding fair attendees haven’t even booked a venue yet and are just looking for inspiration. This means that you can start attending wedding fairs as soon as you become engaged and the experience will still be worth while! If you meet a photographer or a florist that you love, keep hold of their details and when the time is right, see what they would charge to work at your venue of choice. Suppliers are rarely affiliated to a single venue and are used to travelling all over the country, so chances are they’ll be able to accommodate you if they have the date free.
Who can you expect to meet at wedding fairs?
Everyone and everything you could want at your wedding. From the obvious choices like bridal shops and entertainers to the more left-field such as photo booths, love letter signs, stationary and personal trainers! Each business will have representatives on hand to chat to and give you more of an insight into the service or product they provide. Often you can obtain price lists or register your interest with any given events supplier. Remember, speaking to a business doesn’t mean you’re obliged to use them – but you’ll never get the full picture unless you strike up a conversation.
Are there different sized wedding fairs?
Yes…and they vary massively. Wedding fairs can vary in anything from 10 businesses to over 500 suppliers. These almost always coincide with the size of the venue. As a wedding supplier, we’ve attended both and each have their advantages. A smaller fair means more quality time to speak to potential customers, whilst a big fair offers you more choice of suppliers, but can become confusing in remembering who you spoke to and why you liked them. Some of the bigger shows have catwalk runways with models showing off bridal gowns or groom’s tuxedos. This can be a great opportunity to see what your dream wedding-wear really looks like up close.
What will you take away with you?
Visiting a wedding fair isn’t only an opportunity to speak to suppliers face to face. It’s a fantastic opportunity to take away business cards, flyers, brochures and sample products for each supplier you’ve met during the event. Most wedding fair organisers provide goodie bags as you enter the event; and all suppliers will have something tangible for you to take away
It’s almost impossible for someone to make such important decisions straight away, so this gives you opportunity to take all the literature home and digest it over a cup of tea (or maybe even champagne?) You then have the opportunity to browse wedding supplier websites and enquire about further details or obtain a quote in the comfort of your own home.
So what’s so daunting about it?
As someone who’s attended wedding fairs as both a customer and as a supplier, we’ve identified two types of event attendee. There are those who walk in to the room, wide-eyed and overwhelmed at where to start – and then there are those who go knowing exactly what they are looking for. The first type of person will often take a wide-line around the outside of all the suppliers, avoiding eye contact and refusing to speak to anyone, grabbing the odd business card here and there. Whilst this is totally understandable – it’s not productive. Remember that when attending a wedding fair, you are essentially attending a sales event. If, like me, you’re someone who hates being sold to, then these events might not seem appealing. However, avoiding any conversation is not the best way to go about things if you want to find suitable suppliers for your wedding. If you’re really not interested but feel rude saying so, then simply say to the salesperson, “that’s ok thank you, I’ve already got my ‘_____’ booked”. It’s as easy as that…
This can become daunting if you have to repeat yourself 200 times – but my advice would be to take any literature you’re given and pop it in your bag and strike up a conversation with those you’re genuinely interested in. You can dispose of any information you’re not interested in once you get home and take a look through the information you’ve been given.
Our top tip is to start an A4 ring binder with plastic wallets in, dropping any cards or leaflets into a categorised pocket. When the time’s right and you’re looking for a Prosecco Cart, simply find the relevant pocket with drinks caterers and start taking a look. This process will be invaluable at the later stages of your planning, such as when you’re looking for entertainment and you stumble across Showbott Entertainment’s, 9 months after originally meeting us at a wedding fair!
Do I give people my contact details at a wedding fair?
People have become frightened to give any personal details since the acronym ‘GDPR’ became widely bounded around. The truth is, if you voluntarily give a wedding supplier your email address, they will contact you with regards to a potential enquiry. Whilst the volume of content will vary from supplier to supplier, the fact is that if you want a service you’ll want to find out more…If you don’t then you can simply contact the supplier and request that they no longer contact you. In our opinion, it’s worth doing as it keeps you up to date with new products, any discounts or additional service the company might offer.
Sometimes companies run competitions at wedding fairs as a method of obtaining your contact details. If this is the case, ensure that the contact details are only used for this purpose and not otherwise used for sales unless clearly specified. Make sure you check out these competitions though as they’re often too good to miss. We’ve witnessed couples winning their honeymoon for free and even run competitions ourselves where a lucky customer had one of our fantastic bands play at their wedding for free!
Another top tip is to set up a wedding email address, so that you can freely give it to potential suppliers and know that any correspondence will be kept away from your personal or work emails. My wife and I set up one when we were getting married – sadly now it’s just used for bills!
Where can I find out about upcoming fairs?
There are a number of wedding fair organisers, and these will vary from region to region. Here are some of our favourites to check out:
I Do Wedding Exhibitions (http://www.ido-weddingexhibitions.co.uk)
Brides Up North (http://bridesupnorth.com/wedding-fairs/)
Wedding Fayres Yorkshire (http://weddingfayresyorkshire.com/)
Whoop Events (http://www.whoopevents.com/)
The Wedding Affair (https://www.theweddingaffair.co.uk/)
In addition to the above, check out our Best Wedding Blogs article for further advice.