After a bridal show: Now what do I do?

Beautiful green and orange bridal bouquet by Stem Designs in Salem, Oregon

Beautiful flowers by Stem Designs

So you just got back from a bridal or wedding show. You have tons of materials from all sorts of vendors and you are on wedding overload! You are probably asking now what do I do?!? If you read our previous article Bridal Shows: 5 tips for couples then you are prepared for this moment and I recommend you skip to step 3 and take a week or two off! If you haven’t read that article that is ok, there are a couple steps to do right away before you take your time off.

Step 1 – Take notes and Sort the materials

When you get home from the wedding show, or very shortly after (hopefully within a day), you will want to clear the floor and dump out your bag (or bags!) of information you received and start going through them. You will want to start separating the information into categories (venues, caterers, photographers, etc.). As you do, take a minute with each to remember each one and takes notes on what you remember. Think about how each one made you feel, a memorable quote or experience at their booth or while you were talking with them, your likes and concerns about their work and how they would work with you, and anything else you can think of. You want to do this while it is still fresh in your mind and when you can remember the most.

Step 2 – Order the categories by which you want to hire first

Next you want to order the vendor types into the order you are planning on booking them. This helps balance your priorities and all your desired pieces. It will also help you in step 4 to stay focused and should make decisions easier. If you need help on when to book there are several helpful articles available online, such as this compiled timeline from MyDeejay. I like this timeline because it gives you the suggestions from the three biggest wedding websites (The Knot, WeddingWire, and Brides.com) as well as the author’s suggestion and why they suggest it.

Step 3 – Take a break!

Now that you are all organized, you deserve a break! Take a week or two off to relax and recharge before you get into actually choosing your vendors. This will not only help you clear your head, but should help you narrow down your choices in each category.

Step 4 – Choosing your vendors

While each couple will approach this part differently, there are a few tips I can pass on here. First is to choose one vendor at a time according to your organized categories. This will let you more easily compare packages/offerings from vendors in this category and will let you deeply explore what you want from that type of vendor. Next, You will want to discuss each type of vendor together and make some choices before you start talking to vendors. For example, do you want a religious ceremony? Do you want the ceremony and reception all in one place? Do you want a DVD or digital files of your picture? How much are you hoping to spend on this category? And many other questions.

Once you have narrowed down what you want from each category, then take the first category and read the materials you collected, looking for those elements which you decided were most important for you.

Finally, choose your top 3-5 from each category based on what you want and your budget, and call them for a consultation. This will allow you to get a better feel for them and a personalized quote for your wedding. If you find what you feel is your perfect vendor from these consultations, put down your deposit and move on to the next category. If you are still on the fence and can’t seem to make a decision, move on to the next category and come back to it. The important thing is that you can make the decisions without feeling pressured or frustrated with the process. Planning your wedding should be a wonderful experience. And always remember the experts are there to help you. There are many wonderful planners and vendors out there that can help you along the way.

 

Happy Planning!!

Bridal Shows: 5 Tips for couples

Wedding photography book for Photos By Orion at the Oregon Wedding Showcase

Our both at the Oregon Wedding Showcase in January

Photos By Orion has been in many wedding shows and events, including the Oregon Wedding Showcase, for many years now. Over the years I have developed some tips for couples who are going to a bridal show about how to get the most out of your trip. While these tips are geared toward couples who are just starting their wedding planning, most of the tips will apply to couples in any stage of planning. Also, while the examples are mainly for photography, the concepts can be applied to any wedding vendor.

I hope these tips will aide in your wedding planning!

  1. Research – It is always good to do your homework, and a bridal show is no different. About a week before the show, you will want to check out the show’s website and see what types of vendors will be at the show. You also will want to sit down together and decide how much you of your wedding you will want to do yourselves and what you want to trust to the professionals. Keep notes and make a list of the professionals you are looking to hire. Then prioritize your top three types of vendors you want to visit at the show. This will give you a good road-map for traveling through the show.
  2. Bring a notebook and Address labels – When you go to the show, be sure to take your notes and some extra paper to take more notes as you go through the show. Take notes on elements you like or don’t like (for example: I like black and white photos, I don’t like pictures of the bridal party jumping, etc.) as you walk through the show. Also, have address labels printed out before the show that have your name, phone number, email, and wedding date on them. This will help you sign up at booths quickly and save your hand from cramping!
  3. Walk before you talk – You will want to make a round through the whole show before you stop to talk to any vendors. During this walk through, take your notes, get some good ideas about your likes and dislikes, and make notes on which vendors look interesting and which don’t. Many shows will give you a map or list of the booths when you register, which gives you a really good way to mark booths to visit or booths to pass by.
  4. Visit your priorities/favorites first – Once you have finished your once around, then visit vendors you marked as interesting which are in your three priority categories first. Talk with them, ask any questions you have about their area of expertise, and get a feel for if you could work with them. Keep notes, collect information, and most importantly have a good time!
  5. Be willing to sign with a vendor for a great deal, but don’t sign unless you are sure – When you are first starting your planning, take time to consider everything you take in at the show. There will be many show deals and inevitably some vendors who will try to hard sell you to “sign today.” (Can you blame them? This is their livelihood after all) I am defiantly not saying you shouldn’t sign with them, but to be sure they are who you want before you sign. I know I (and my fellow photographers at PBO) have high quality work at a good value for your money, but I am not for everyone. I would never want you to sign with me to “get the deal” and then feel like you were pressured or cheated in any way. Professionals are there to make your wedding day smooth and easy! If you are within 6 months of your wedding date, then booking at a show to get the deal is a much better idea because (theoretically) you have already done your homework on what you like/don’t like and what each vendor needs to bring to your wedding, making it much easier to know that “this vendor” is the one for your wedding. The wedding industry is all about relationships, so like any relationship you should never rush into it.

I really hope these tips help you make the most of any bridal show you attend. And for any brides in the Willamette Valley, I hope to get to meet you at the Oregon Wedding Showcase in October!

Happy Planning!