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Feature: Top 10 Things You Won’t Want to Be Without at a Wedding Fair this Year!

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In the wee cold quiet months, wedding photographers all over the UK and Ireland, put on their winter coats and venture out to exhibit at the hundreds and hundreds of wedding fairs all over the country. We do this too! We love exhibiting at wedding fairs and this week the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast plays host to Ireland’s largest fair – the Wedding Journal Show. We will be there all weekend (yay!) with lots of albums and stuff for brides to see. We will also have to really fab show offers, that if you haven’t booked your wedding photographer yet, you won’t want to miss!

But wedding fairs can be unforgiving things, and to really get the best out of any fair, you need to be prepared. So, we have put together this list of the top ten things you won’t want to forget when you’re out doing your wedding planning this season!

No. 10. Your Bridal Party

Nothing makes a wedding fair more fun than making it a day out with the gang. At most of the big shows there will be a bar (or at least a coffee shop) where you can sit and have a natter all about the cool things you see. It is also a good idea to sit and have a team talk before venturing around, so you know what you want to see! Your bridesmaids will help you remember your favourite vendors too, as fairs can be overwhelming. It’s always good to have extra sets of eyes and ears to to help you remember things. We always make sure we talk to everyone who comes to visit us at our stand (and not just the bride and groom!). We love getting to know new people (and Graham really loves to chat!). Also, make sure you put those girls to work! A lot of vendors will be running some sort of prize draw… so… get those girls filling in forms for you while you chat to vendors. Be sure to give them your up-to-date email address and phone number! People will want to contact you afterwards, and there is no point emailing your bridesmaids!

No. 9. A Bag for ALL your haul!

Wedding fairs are very heavy on paper… so not just any bag will do. A good sturdy bag is a must, to put all the lovely brochures and flyers you collect in form all the vendors. Some shows will give out a paper bag and you might even get a bag from some of the vendors (e.g. large shops trying to get you to sign up to their gift list). Some might be plastic, but if you want to make sure that you aren’t going home with a shoulder injury it is best to bring your own good bag. So, empty all the rubbish out of your favourite oversized handbag and bring it along. All that paper can be heavy (so even a rucksack might do!). If you have a sherpa… or a groom-to-be, they can carry it for you!

No. 8. Don’t waste time filling in prize draw forms!

This is one tip I’m going to admit I stole from a super organised bride Graham and I encountered at a fair a few years back now, when we first starting exhibiting at wedding fairs. This girl had a sticker with her with all of her wedding info printed on it – her name, his name, their date, their venue, an email address and a phone number. This is will cover most of the information any vendor will ask at a show, whether you are leaving your information to be followed up by the vendor later or if you have entered a prize draw. Doing this takes a wee bit of time to prep, but it is well worth it. You won’t need to waste any time writing your details down again… and again… and again. Plus, your details will be clear and there won’t be any question of “Is that a hyphen or a line?!” afterwards!

No 7. A firm idea of your budget

Just like Dragon’s Den… or that one with Sir Alan, always go in knowing your numbers! If you are coming to the fair looking to book vendors, it’s a good idea to know your budget and know how it breaks down too. There will be lots of variety at the fair, and it’s all too easy to be swept up in the moment by the look of something (that you had no idea even existed before!) and now all of a sudden can’t live without at your wedding. If you are coming to a fair at the very early stages of planning though, then the fairs are a fantastic way of getting to know the rough costs of things before you nail your budget down. If you want to spend… make sure you know how much you can part with!

No. 6. Firm Date

As well as having an idea of how deep your wedding pockets are, if you are looking to book vendors at a show, then you need to know what date/dates you are looking at. I would confidently bet Glyn the Dog’s inheritance, that the first question everyone will ask you is “Have you set a date for your wedding? What date is that?” 😉 Even if you have nothing booked – a general idea of when you are planning is good. We will always ask people who visit us at shows “When are you getting married?”. Wedding exhibitors are there to do one thing, and that is to sell. There is not point wasting your time at a suppliers stand if they are not available on your date. It’s much better for you, for us to say “Sorry no we can’t help you” than waste your time showing you things you can’t have! Also if we aren’t free on your date, we can always give you the names of some of our friends who might be!

No 5. Don’t leave your flexible friend at home!

No, we’re not talking about the groom! You might be surprised at how many suppliers you will be able to book on the day of the show. Lots of suppliers will take deposits off you to secure their services while you are there. We always make sure to take our credit card terminal with us to the big fairs – meaning you can book Graham without needing to go and get some cash from a hole in the wall, or worrying about someone else booking him first. You might also find that some vendors will do a special deal, where they take a portion of the deposit now and the rest when you get the contracts etc. But it’s much easier to do if you bring your cards along with you. Also these sorts of places aren’t often near a cash machine sot it’s a good idea to be prepared.

No 4. Sensible Shoes & Threads!

Trust me, I know what I am talking about – I stand and walk around all day at these fairs! It will take a while to walk around and see every supplier. You won’t want to miss any of them because your feet were killing you or you were too warm. If you come during the busiest times, you will want to be wearing layers that you can take off and flat shoes to make walking through the crowds easier. Don’t forget to give the same advice to your bridal party too! You won’t want to miss seeing your favourite photographer, just because your bridesmaids can’t walk anymore!

No. 3. Bottle of Water

Do you remember that movie, you know the one where the dude got stuck down a hole without a bottle of water? 127 Hours. Well, as in the comfy clothes section, it gets very hot inside a fair. The bar and coffee shops are never right in the thick of the stands, so, like a good athlete, keep yourself topped up by bringing a bottle of water with you. You can stick it in your oversized brochure bag! If you don’t fancy carrying one with you to the fair, at least get one on your way in. Trust me you will need it!

No. 2. Notebook & pen… or a smart phone if you’re more “tech savvy”

Did I mention that I love notepads? Really I do. Graham’s and my house is coming down with them! (I also love stickers, but that is another story!). Anyhow, bring a notepad (or at the least your fully charged phone) so you can make some notes of things you liked. Take pictures of the people you liked. We will even pose for you! It’s a good thing to go through when you sit down for that glass of bubbly or cuppa with your entourage. Get out your notepad out and jot down things that have caught your eye. It might not even be vendors themselves, but maybe something you have seen in their stand set ups that has caught your eye. Think of it like your own wedding fair Pinterest board… but on paper!

No. 1. The most important thing you won’t want to forget: Your “Other Half”

From experience, if yours is like mine (ahem, Graham) he would probably rather be at home watching the footie that being dragged around a wedding fair, but if you plan on going to a fair you will not want to leave him at home. If he is with you, you can book vendors right at the show without worrying about losing your date to someone else. It is such a lot easier to do if you are both there. For the vendors too its so much easier to get a feel for you as a couple and get excited about your wedding if you are both there to chat too!

Above all, wedding fairs are great fun. (Graham really isn’t in to his footie, by the way). They are a great chance to see a variety of different suppliers who all do things their own way. You may have already researched some of them or you might not have ever heard of any of them. But, be prepared and you will get the most out of any wedding show. Remember, a wedding is fun, it’s not worth stressing over. Enjoy yourself… and say hello to us when you are there!

Like this post, have you read the other posts in the series…

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About GRAHAM

Graham Crichton is an award winning professional wedding & portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of experience and having photographed hundreds of weddings he has photographed weddings all over Ireland, the UK and abroad.

About HANNAH

Hannah Crichton is the principal photographic assistant, blogger and studio manager (and other half of Graham Crichton Photography). Hannah and Graham recently married themselves in Ynysybwl, Wales, where Hannah is originally from. Hannah loves “everything wedding"!

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