I am organizing a bridal show in my area for the first time. How should I approach organizing a bridal show?
Angela Shumba of Tsaduko Events in Limpopo Province, a small town in South Africa, decided to organize the area's first bridal show because the region is large, and many brides (including herself) do not have easy access to the province's wedding services and talent.
Angela asked others if they would attend attend a bridal show, and she received a 100% favorable response. She then asked wedding and bridal suppliers if they would participate in bridal shows and received a very favorable response.
Bridal shows are held in major cities everywhere each year. Bridal shows are organized to promote an area’s wedding suppliers in a way that provides a lot of convenience for brides. What’s great for those who attend bridal shows is that it serves as a one-stop shop to get to know the various vendors and services that are involved in the wedding itself – simply in a wedding expo format.
What can you find at bridal shows? Bridal gowns (lots of bridal gowns), cakes, floral options, invitations/party favors, limousine/car services, photographers, wedding décor and more.
Chevalier Associates, Inc., in Shrewsbury, MA, publishes Bride & Groom magazine and produces an average of seven regional bridal shows with more than 450 exhibitors and 3,000 brides/grooms at hotels and trade centers in Central New England known as The Original Wedding Expo.
Robert Chevalier, president of Chevalier Associates, has been involved in his family's advertising and promotions business since 1977 when he was nine years old, as manager of the exhibitor coffee & donut cart. Hundreds of wedding expos later, Chevalier is regarded as an accomplished professional in the Massachusetts bridal show industry.
Chevalier offers the following 10 tips to producing a bridal show:
- Set goals and prioritize. Know what you need to get done (find a facility, select the date and time of the show, know how many vendors you need to participate, set deadlines).
- Quality of the show. Wide aisles make it easy for the brides to navigate among the wedding vendors. Make sure booths are spacious, so it is easy to see what is being offered. Create a fun and energetic atmosphere for the attendees and exhibitors.
- Diversity. Make sure there is a wide array of specialists in the top categories. Major vendors such as facilities, florists, bakers, bridal shops, transportation must be well represented as well as a variety of specialty exhibitors such as bridal registries, salons, make-up artists, and hair stylists.
- Grand prizes. Everyone loves to win. Have a range of prizes in value. This keeps the bride interested and with the anticipation of winning a positive experience. Also encourage the vendors to offer additional prizes directly at their booths.
- Interactive displays. Use all of the senses as far as letting people listen to the DJ/band, taste the caterer’s food or baker’s cake or hop inside the latest limousine to get a first-hand look.
- Professional exhibit booths. Encourage your vendors to have an exciting booth with a lot of information brides can walk away with. Make sure the florists have glorious floral arrangements and the reception displays are complete with the finest china and linens.
- Pre-show preparation. Send exhibitor kit with information regarding move-in schedules and operations. Have hands on assistance for expo and booth set up. Invest in targeted and focused advertising campaigns designed to attract qualified brides/grooms.
- Registration area. Identify the bride at registration and gather their information. This is used for post show marketing.
- For the Attendees. Offer show guides containing a map of the show floor plan, a list of exhibitors, itinerary, list of grand prizes and promotion for future bridal show dates.
- Post Show. Create a list of registered attendees complete with name, mailing address, phone and/or email and wedding date. Send this along with a survey to all exhibitors so you can obtain valued feedback for future shows.
Robert Chevalier kindly agreed to provide mentoring advice to Angela as she plans her first bridal show. We will share details of that event with you after it takes place in 2010.