For more than 20 years, over 50,000 engaged couples in the Triad have planned their weddings at The Carolina Weddings shows. We asked show producer Don Freedman for his thoughts on how engaged couples might make the best of their visit.
Here are nine things you need to know to get the max out of a trip to a wedding show:
1. Bring your posse. Like the show itself, planning your wedding is fun, but these are big decisions. Get your tribe involved: you want the opinions of people who truly know what’s important to you. You’re more likely to narrow down and set appointments with the right vendors.
2. Make appointments. Most wedding show vendors are the top in their field and they book up fast. Many do only one wedding a weekend, and hearing, “Sorry, we’re booked” is harsh. The deal: You like this photographer, they seem cool, and they have good reviews. Your magic words: “When can we sit down and talk?”
3. Come prepared. Bring a pad and pen (or tablet) to make appointments with the vendors you like. Make sure you get on their “Let’s sit down next week and talk” list.
4. Allow enough time. You want a number? OK: 90 minutes. You’ll be meeting wedding professionals, gaining knowledge, tasting food and wedding cakes, and watching fashion shows. (You’ll be wearing comfy shoes, right?)
5. Gather information. When you arrive, you’ll get a cheerful welcome and a gift bag in which you’ll collect fliers, catalogs, and so on.
6. Take notes right away. On the way out, the excited you will be saying “That was great! I’m going to book a bunch of these people and places!” But a week later when you revisit your gift bag, you’ll be a tad hazy on who was who. Please believe me: It will be an hour well-spent sifting through the materials, sorting it into categories, and making notes on who you met.
7. Leave your coat in the car. The beautiful environs can get very warm, and you want to be free to engage.
8. Think smarter, not harder. Print and bring labels with your contact info. Also, create an email account just for wedding-related stuff.
9. Have fun. The point is to effortlessly plan your stress-free wedding. Yes, it can feel overwhelming, but that’s why wedding shows are here: they are helpful and fun.