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Feature: Stilettos & Snake Oil – Top 10 Tricks to Avoid at a Wedding Fair

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With one of the largest wedding fairs in Ireland taking place this coming weekend in Belfast [The Wedding Journal Show] (where we will be exhibiting – come and see us), this is the second in a series of blog posts in the run up to the fair to help you get the most out of visiting all those lovely exhibitors. It doesn’t matter if you are coming to see us, or going to another fair a thousand miles away – this article is all about the nasty little tricks that some suppliers use to part you from your cash, that you will want to keep an eye out for… and avoid.

No. 10 – The Hard Sell

As warm and fluffy a supplier makes their stand look, or even if they are the friendliest person in the world – they exhibit at fair for one reason, and one reason alone – to make a sale. Booking a supplier should be about booking the right person or business for you, and you should never feel pressured into booking anyone or anything.

There will be a range of different “show deals” and offers on for JUST TODAY or THIS WEEKEND ONLY. Don’t be taken in by these and feel pressured. Booking anything for your wedding needs a little thought… your thought, not someone elses. The only person to tell you if that supplier is right for you, is you (and by that I mean you in the plural sense… the couple). We don’t like sneaky hard sell approaches and extend our show offers for 7 days after the show. That way it gives you time to think. Time to research – and time to make a proper no-pressure decision. If you want to book us, we want it to be on our approach and what we do, not a pushy sale.

No. 9 – EVERYONE’s a Winner!

Winning stuff is awesome. There are so many prize draws at a wedding fair, you are bound to win something… as long as you enter! (PS: Remember to check out our fab article about tips for going to a wedding fair and see how you can save yourself time filling in all those prize draw forms!),

There will be all sorts of prizes on offer at a fair – we like to give away something fun and exciting. Our last prize draw involved a nice night at a 5 star hotel for two people. (These type of prizes cost us money to give away, but it is fun and we consider it a “cost of doing business” – in the same way brochures cost us money.Some questionable suppliers will call you up to tell you that you have

Some questionable suppliers, however, will call you up to tell you “Congratulations! You have won!” – Great… until you learn that so has everyone else! One local competitors of mine does this and runs a prize draw to win a £200 voucher at a fair (or a free engagement shoot… yada yada). Anyway, the voucher is for their own services. Awesome, until you think about it and cotton on to the fact that you need to book him to spend it! Also, that same week we had three couples come out to visit us at the studio to meet us too, and all three had won the same prize from this chap. Wow, small world. Lucky them! So, let’s be clear! MR. PHOTOGRAPHER… IT ISN’T A PRIZE IF EVERYONE WINS. It also isn’t a prize if it is to win something that requires you to spend money first! Which brings me on to my next dirty trick…

No. 8 – Prize draws where you have to spend money first!

If you are like me, you will get a letter on your doormat (does everyone still have these, we do!) that says “Congratulations… you have won a prize.” – WOW! It makes my heart skip a beat because I love winning things. But as I read on, I see that I have to phone a number to get my prize. No worries, they just want to know where to send it to… but hold on! They know where to send it to because they sent me the letter. Anyway, if you read the really really small print, you see that you have to phone a number (which is charged at a premium rate). Hmm… and you might be on the phone for 30 minutes at £1 a minute! HOLD ON! I get this… it isn’t a prize at all. I phone them, spend £30 and get my “prize”.

Now what has this got to do with wedding fairs, I hear you ask? Well, imagine the same thing happened at a fair. Imagine you only got your “prize” if you had to spend money first! This is one of the cheekiest tricks ever! Getting a discount is exactly what it says… it is a discount. It is not a prize! – and what if you wanted to claim your prize without booking the services of this supplier… well that’s not going to happen.

Honest prize draws are where you don’t tie someone down or in. We give away fair prizes that have nothing to do with booking us. If you visit our stand and enter, you are just as entitled to win as anyone else… even if you don’t book. Fair is fair.

No. 7 – Show me what you do!

Wedding fairs are a great chance to see lots of different suppliers and an even better chance to compare suppliers in the flesh, so to speak. You can compare photographers albums, wedding dresses, milk cans, sweety carts, flowers, cakes (nom nom nom)… anything. BUT something to keep in mind, as you go round the floor and look at different suppliers is, keep an eye out to see what they are showing you. For example, a well established and experienced photographer will have lots of different albums and lots of pictures on display. If they have only one, or just a few pictures – then something isn’t right. An experienced cake maker won’t just bring one cake with them – they will bring a few. No matter what the supplier though, an experienced supplier will bring their very best work with them. So for a photographer, that is a series of showstopping albums – for a baker, that is some truly wow cakes! If you find an exhibitor is showing you only a small selection of mediocre stuff, then the chances are they aren’t as experienced as they would like you to believe. Which leads me on to…

No. 6 – Albums with lots of brides in them

Okay, this is a specific “photography” one this… but a general rule of thumb is: one bride, one album. The reason being, any photographer worth their salt should be able to fill an album full of stunning images from any single wedding, without the need to bulk it out with other images from other weddings. So, any album you look at on a photographers stand, should only have one bride in it! (unless it is a same-sex wedding… but you get the drift!). If a photographer tries to use the line “Oh, I wanted to show my style and range by putting in lots of weddings and couldn’t decide”, then quite frankly… they are talking b@llocks.

You will also probably note, that in this particular album there will be three or four different weddings – but if you ask to see any more pictures form other weddings, the photographer will look at you all sheepish! Usually because “what you see is what you get”. The photographer won’t have shot any more and is probably lying about their experience. Coming to the end of this rant…before a wedding fair suppliers spend a lot of time getting ready., also before a wedding fair, photographers like to make sure all their albums are up to date. Wedding fairs aren’t just thrust upon photographers – we book them months, maybe a year in advance. We have plenty of time to update our albums!

Bonus fact: Before a wedding fair suppliers spend a lot of time getting ready. We spend time thinking about what our stand will look like, how we will build it, what we will bring to show people, what our brochures should look like, think about great show deals, what prize draw we will do etc. etc. A lot of thought. We plan these things months in advance and to a photographer one of the most important things, is having up to date stunning albums. So if you are looking at a photographer who only has one album or an album filled with different images from different weddings – REALLY ASK YOURSELF IF THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING?

No. 5 – Where’s the prices?

As I mentioned in the beginning, wedding fairs are sales events. People want to sell you stuff, and a lot of the time the couples are there to buy (often at a show itself). Beware of suppliers who are “a little vague” on their pricing. If you ask someone how much something costs they should know the answer. Okay, you might need to tell them a little more information, but generally, most suppliers (especially photographers) should be able to give you an accurate quote, within seconds, if not minutes. All a photographer needs to know is: Where are you getting married (i.e. how far away is it)?, what do you need covered? What type of products are you interested in? That’s it. Simple. If they don’t want to tell you that basic information, then there may be something more sinister afoot. Most suppliers (and especially photographers) should be able to give you a price list TO TAKE AWAY. What’s the big secret? A price list that contains very little pricing makes me always wonder, what are the hidden extras? Hmm.

No. 4 – This show is too busy for me. Can we meet afterwards?

Some suppliers think of a wedding fair as a “lead generator”. They are simply there to collect names and follow-up. We exhibit at fairs to meet people – to chat to excited couples about what we do. Why? Because we are excited too! You aren’t just another number. Even at a busy show, a supplier should have time to talk to you, after all that is why they are there! If you have questions and a supplier is busy, don’t be afraid to ask them. Some will be very vague and push towards meeting them afterwards – usually with that hard sell we spoke about earlier. I myself have absolutely no need to do this. When you visit me at a show, you get to meet me, you get to see what I do, and you get my full pricing – nothing hidden. If you want to come and visit me after the show, you get to meet me, your get to see what I do, and you get my full pricing. Exactly the same.

No. 3 – Don’t just take someone’s word for it

Making decisions about a wedding can be very stressful and confusing. There are just so many things to book, and so many suppliers to see…But relax. Visit a stand, take a brochure and price list, and then go for a coffee with Team Bridesmaids and do a little Googling over a cup of tea. Just seen a photographer whose work you loved? Google them. Look up their website and Facebook page. Their website should be filled with loads more beautiful pictures… not just the same stuff you saw on the stand. Looking for a room decorating company, do a Google search and read some reviews! People are great at making you believe they are great… but real work and reviews don’t lie. If you like what you see, you can always go back and see them again after you have finished your tea, of course!

But relax.

Visit a stand, take a brochure and price list, and then go for a coffee with Team Bridesmaids and do a little Googling over a cup of tea. Just seen a photographer whose work you loved? Google them. Look up their website and Facebook page. Their website should be filled with loads more beautiful pictures… not just the same stuff you saw on the stand. Looking for a room decorating company, do a Google search and read some reviews! People are great at making you believe they are great… but real work and reviews don’t lie. If you like what you see, you can always go back and see them again after you have finished your tea, of course!

Visit a supplier’s stand, take a brochure and price list, and then go for a cup of tea with Team Bridesmaids. Sit with your tea and do a little Googling about the suppliers you have just seen, who you are really interested in. Just seen a photographer whose work you loved? Google them. Look up their website and Facebook page. Their website should be filled with loads more beautiful pictures… not just the same stuff you saw on the stand. Looking for a florist, do a Google search and read some reviews – see the loads of beautiful bouquets from past weddings on their Facebook! People are great at making you believe they are great… but real work and reviews don’t lie. If you like what you see, you can always go back and see them again after you have finished your tea, of course!

All suppliers love to sing about their own work. Don’t believe it without seeing it backed up.People are great at making you believe they are great… but real work and reviews don’t lie. If you like what you see, you can always go back and see them again after you have finished your tea, of course!

… and and finish your tea, of course, before it gets cold! … yuck!

No. 2 – Huge Savings

Wedding shows are all about the offers and show deals, and suppliers know it! Every stand will have a great “show deal” that is exclusive to that show, and to them. It is to encourage you to spend money with them… and spend it quickly. We, like everyone else, do exactly that. We run some really great deals (trust me… and you can find out

Every stand will have a great “show deal” that is exclusive to that fair. It is to encourage you to spend money with them… and spend it quickly.

We, like everyone else, do exactly that. We run some really great deals (trust me… and you can find out what, if you visit our stand this weekend). The deals at shows aren’t usually available to people who haven’t attended the show – which makes it another great reason to go to local wedding fairs! Anyhow, when you see a deal saying “50% off”, you do have to ask yourself… “Hold on, that is rather generous”. How come a supplier can afford to reduce their prices by so much?!

Well, it is usually because those original prices never really exisited in the first place! That little trick is called “Price inflating”. Suppliers rise their prices the week before the fair, only to give you a “wonderful deal” at the show. To make sure you don’t get tricked, do some research of your own before the show to see how expensive a supplier you are interested in, really is!

No. 1 – Too good to be true

This one doesn’t really need to be explained. If a supplier at a show is offering you the same as someone else is for 90% less – then alarm bells should be ringing in your head. You need to compare like fo like and to see are they really both doing the same thing. More often than not, if you look at the small print (or just look at their work in detail) they are not.

Here are some “Too good to be true” questions you might want to ask…

Photographer: Does that album come with that lovely leather album included?
Cake Maker: Does that price include delivery of the cake to my reception venue?
Selfie Mirror Person: Does that price include the set-up of the mirror?
Videographer: Does that price include coming to my home?

We hear this all the time from people at shows: “Oh Joe Bloggs Photographer over there is doing coverage from me going to bed the night before until going to bed the following day with an 55″ album”. Okay, so hold your horses. I am not a betting man, but on this occasion I would like to bet that (a) Joe Blogs isn’t as experienced as me, as I know that offering such coverage will burn him out like a really short candle and (b) he probably has a day job where he can afford to offers goods and services at a price where he makes little to no profit. SERIOUSLY, if it is too good to be true it usually is.

No matter what you are booking: do research and use common sense when buying anything at a wedding fair. Most suppliers are great and honest people. Sadly quite a few are not.

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

 

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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