Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bridal Show Review

Wow!  This past weekend was a whirlwind of tulle, flowers, and cupcakes.  Lots and Lots of cupcakes.  My mom and I attended two Bridal Shows this weekend and they could not have been more different.  I apologize ahead of time to everyone for the lack of pictures.  My phone on Saturday had no battery left (rookie mistake!) and the event on Sunday had nothing to take pictures of...more on that later.

Up first was our experience at the Bridal Show at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.  This trip was meant to serve dual purposes.  First, I really wanted to see the venue since it was one of my list of possibilities and second, the show sounded amazing.  Shockingly when we pulled up, the line was out the door to get in!  Thankfully it moved VERY quickly so this was not an issue.  As you walked in, they gave you a bag to help carry goodies and greeted you with a glass of White Sangria.  The Beach Club in general is huge and every hallway was filled with top vendors in the MD area.  And these vendors outdid themselves.  Their tables were not just a cloth with brochures.  Every cake baker had samples there to try.  Photographers invited brides to take pictures.  Florists had both booths and sample tables to show their centerpieces.  My mom and I imagined there was 10's of thousands of dollars worth of flowers at this event.  Stunning doesn't even begin to describe it.

The dress shops even had model bride and grooms walking around which was neat to see dresses in person.  The hair and make up studios also were doing demonstrations, which as someone who has never been in to those things, was interesting to see.  The vendors at this event were also extremely professional and were much more interested in talking to you rather then at you with a sale pitch.  The cost for this event was on the high side at $20 per person but was well worth it in my opinion.  The Beach Club  and their sister property had food set up in each room so it was also like getting a lunch too.  In total, we spent about 2 and a half hours strolling through but had to cut our time short since we had a birthday party that afternoon.  This place was so huge, we actually ended up missing an entire room!!  Overall, I would highly recommend this show to any Maryland or Virgina bride and think it is certainly worth price.

So for as awesome and amazing as the first show was, is how terrible the next one we attended was.  The next day, my mom and I attended the Great Bridal Expo at the Hilton in downtown Baltimore.  The line for this was also very long and moved at a decent pace.  After yesterday's event, my expectations were much too high.  As soon as we walked in the door to this event, the reps from David's Bridal were in your face asking you to buy a dress that day.  How that was going to work, I'm not sure.  I literally just walked in, so no thank you.  To say this event was depressing is an understatement.  There were only about 20 booths in a dimly lit ballroom.  Most of these vendors had little to do with an actual wedding like travel agents, real estate agents (?), naughty underwear, and a few photographers mixed in.  No cake places.  No florists.  Nothing!

We spent about 30 minutes walking around but with the Ravens playoff game about to start, I figured our time could be spent in better ways.  We quickly left and probably won't be using any of the information that I got.  This is nationally touring event so I expected much better.  Thankfully the cost for this one was only $8 and frankly it would have been better spent at Chipotle for lunch instead. 

Overall I think bridal shows are worth to attend but do your research before hand if you can.  I might be interested in attending one more but that's probably it.  Otherwise the amount of information is so overwhelming and with websites like Wedding Wire and Southern Wedding, it's easy to find vendor reviews and recommendations.  Some other good tips:

-Set up an email for your wedding ahead of time.  Then your personal inbox won't get flooded with vendor stuff and it will be a good place to keep things organized.
-Pre-print some stickers with your general info.  This will save you major time and hand cramps.
-The two we attended did not have any reception sites and most of the people seemed to already have that booked.  These things seemed to be for those out of the initial planning stage.

Have you attended any bridal shows or expos?  What was your experience?

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