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The Baltimore Museum of Art
The Walters Art Museum
Turf Valley Resort
Swan Harbor Farm
Pond View Farm
Mt. Washington Mill - Dye House
The Maryland Zoo
The Mansion at Valley Country Club
Lord Baltimore Hotel
The Grand Baltimore
Evergreen Museum and Library
The Engineers Club
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Corradetti Glassblowing Studio
Christian Royer House
Celebrations at the Bay
Baltimore Museum of Industry
American Visionary Art Museum
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Congratulations! You’re planning your wedding!!! Now what to bring to a bridal show?
We are smack dab in the middle of bridal show season, and if you are engaged and haven’t attended a show yet, you really should head over and check some out! A Wedding Expo (also called a Bridal Show, Bridal Expo, etc) is a great place to get started with your wedding plans, but you should definitely know what to bring to a bridal show. They are held at various types of venues –the most common spaces are convention centers and wedding venues. Each have their own merit, and once you choose your venue, you should check out both kinds.
Regardless of where the show is, the main purpose is still the same – to give you the chance to meet the local professionals, see examples of their work, taste samples of cakes and foods (one of my favorite aspects), collect tons of vendor brochures, and get fresh ideas for your wedding.
However tempting it may be, now is not the time to get all of your planning done in a whirlwind of a few hours. Bridal shows can be like speed dating with a Battle Royale of DJ’s in the background, and you want to have a game plane to select just the right vendors for you. Going into my 8th year of doing bridal shows, I’ve come across some tips on how to not only survive a wedding expo, but make it an efficient and effective planning opportunity.
What to BRING to a bridal show
Having a game plan ahead of time, and not just hopping into your car and driving to the expo will save you a ton of time, energy, and MONEY! What you bring to the bridal show can be just as beneficial as what you will see there. Here is a checklist of things you should definitely have with you when you go.
A Pen and Notebook
Have a game plan of who you definitely want to speak with, and what questions you want to ask. Make a different page for each category (DJ, photographer, caterer, planner, etc) to make it easier to review your notes later. Make sure to include not just answers to your questions in your notes, but your initial impression of the person themselves. Remember, you’re going to have to work with the person, not just their product. 🙂
Two reusable bags
I would actually suggest stopping by David’s Bridal and Men’s Wearhouse as soon as you get there. Get one of each bag, and use them to organize all of the SWAG you’re going to get that day. Have someone carry the “polite bag” – this is the bag that all of your free stuff is going to go into. The magnets, the stress balls, the business cards, wristbands, and all the other things you might want to look at when the time comes. The other bag is your “keeper” bag – this is the bag of the people and vendors you definitely want to talk to when the time comes. This way, three months down the road, when it time to speak with a baker about your wedding cake, you don’t have to try and remember which one you liked and which you didn’t.
Avery address labels
OK, so this one might not be able to help you with every person you speak with, but having an easy sticker label with both of your names, address, phone number, email address, wedding date, and venue (if you have one yet) will save you a TON of writing time.
If you stay for a decent amount of time, you’re going to get hungry (hence the snacks) and thirsty (hence the water) but quite a few times, there will be a cash bar there….’nuff said 🙂
Your checkbook and/or debit card
If you find the perfect vendor and want to put down a deposit to lock them down THAT day, bring your checkbook and debit card. Yes, you are going to meet a TON of vendors in each category, but they will be seeing potentially HUNDREDS of couples that day. If you want to make sure they don’t book someone else first, it’s totally OK to lock them down at the show with a deposit.
You will be on your feet, more than likely on a concrete floor, for a good couple of hours. While it is so much fun to get all dressed up for this kind of thing, you need to be prepared to make some important decisions, without the distraction of your feet and back hurting! I’ve gotten smart over the past few years of exhibiting at wedding expos – I lay down two layers of foam flooring to stand on – you should stop by and check it out, and give your back a break 🙂
Two or three other people, TOPS
I know it’s a ton of fun to invite the entire bridal party, trust me, I get it. Walking around, having a couple of drinks, getting excited about your wedding and all the possibilities! Unfortunately, this will also bring everyone’s opinion about who you should hire, and what they thought of the food. It also brings with it getting separated and losing your party, people don’t know where they’ve been, friends trying to talk you into things you don’t really want or need, and after a while it just becomes a whole lot of extra drama distracting you from the real reason you came. To find people you mesh with, people you like their style, and vendors that fit your vision of your wedding. Bringing two or three others (including your fiancé, of course 🙂 allows you to focus, but also to get the help and input you are looking for.
A snack or two (or three)
All this talking, all this walking, all this thinking, you’re gonna get HUNGRY (and thirsty)! Yes, there is probably a food court, and there will definitely be caterers with samples, but instead of spending that three or four dollars on a bag of chips, use that to get a glass of wine at the cash bar and get some protein from a granola bar from home. With all the talking you’re going to be doing that afternoon, I would also recommend bringing a bottle of water to sip on through the day.
Hopefully, this helps plan out what to bring with you to survive the wonderful chaos of a bridal show. Get ready for a fast-paced, loud, high-energy, fun-filled buffet of wedding professionals to choose from. Be ready to book consultations that week, and get TOTALLY excited for your amazing wedding day.
Next up, check out How to Survive a Bridal Show Part 2 – What to do BEFORE you go. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me
Tyler Rieth is a wedding photographer in Baltimore, Maryland. More than just that, he is also a part-time therapist, timeline consultant, comic relief specialist, and above all, your personal storyteller. He currently lives in Maryland with his beautiful wife, two amazing kids and a pair of feisty dogs.