After the excitement of getting engaged wears off, the reality of having to plan a wedding usually starts to set in. And unless you’re a professional wedding planner, you probably don’t know where to start. Luckily, there are entire events dedicated to helping engaged couples through the process: wedding shows.

What to Expect

Typically, a wedding show features numerous vendors displaying their products and services at a large exhibition hall or wedding venue. It’s everything you could possible need to host a wedding – caterers, bakers, florists, venues, photographers and much, much more – all in one place.

“The biggest advantage to attending a wedding fair is that you get to meet face-to-face with wedding professionals,” says marketer Alexa Paelmo. “For a couple planning their wedding, it all comes down to meeting a vendor that they work well with, who can capture the couple's vision, and execute an event that reflects the couple's personality.”

Wedding fairs also often offer giveaways, discounts and free samples from local vendors as well as fashion shows to highlight bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses and tuxes designs.

How to Prepare

While the number of choices is convenient in terms of saving time, it can also be overwhelming for inexperienced attendees. Here are a few expert tips so you can approach your first show like a pro and avoid unnecessary mistakes.

1. Create a separate email address.

Most vendors will have places for you to sign up for giveaways, discounts, quotes or just more information. Instead of inundating your main inbox with wedding-related spam, Paelmo advises keeping everything in one place by creating a separate address dedicated solely to wedding planning.

2. Do your research beforehand.

“Many Wedding Fairs have a selected preview of vendors that will be exhibiting that can be found on their website or social media,” Paelmo says. “If you know what you want ahead of time, you can have a few choices in mind and then you can make an informed decision during the fair.”

3. Bring a notebook.

Large wedding fairs can upwards of 100 different vendors, so it’s easy to forget information or mix up caterers if you solely rely on your memory. Old-fashioned note taking is an easy way to ensure your favorite vendor doesn’t slip through the cracks.

4. Dress for comfort.

While your first instinct may be to dress to impress, wedding shows involve lots of walking, so ditch the heels for a practical pair of flats. At least you’ll be sure to get your 10,000 steps in the day! And, if you plan on trying on wedding dresses, be sure to bring the appropriate undergarments

5. Don’t go alone.

The biggest mistake brides can make is not bringing the groom. Sometimes guys say, "It's a girl thing. Go ahead without me." They don't realize how much fun they will really have and how it builds the excitement of the upcoming wedding.

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