Y'all, wedding fair season is right around the corner. So, from an insider's point of view, there are a few things you'll need to bring to totally kill it (and some things to leave at home). Let's dive in:
So, first and foremost, I'll explain what a wedding fair is for those that are new and unfamiliar. Wedding fairs are conventions held for the purpose of bringing vendors together in one place, and allowing brides to stroll the aisles, chat with vendors, book some services, and get a feel for the road ahead of them. As someone doing this as well, who has also been a vendor, it isn't as easy as it should be. Let's say that you have 300 vendors, which is average for some of the big shows. Now, fill it with brides, sometimes up to 7,000 people in a 4 hour window. Each and every one of these vendors have something to sell and will tell you how their service is better than the rest. It's a big, fat, mess, so here is your short guide:
Have a game plan
Have something ready when you go in. Know what you have, know what vendors you are interested in. Know which vendors you want to avoid! If you don't have a good vibe from one, don't waste time with them. Have your entourage in the loop on the plan as well.
Make contact info easy
Definitely a must. Every vendor will be asking for your information, and you will want to give it to them, without wasting a bunch of time writing or typing it. If you can, go to the nearest store and get a bunch of printable address labels. Make it up ahead of time and print out 100 labels with an email address, phone number, or whatever information you would want them to know (wedding date, location, times, etc.). This makes it super easy so you can just stick it on whatever form they are using, and move on.
Don't give out your personal email if you haven't already. If you have, know that that email is trash for 2 years, and give it up. If you haven't, I would suggest creating a wedding email. This enables you to keep yourself organized, and if you need to, turn it off and pause the wedding stress for a minute. Also, once the wedding is over, you can stop the emails from vendors you didn't book asking if you'd like to.
Take one bag with you from the start: a large tote. Then, at the fair, they will likely have another one ready to go with the branding of top sponsors and the show. Designate the show bag as your "No" bag. Once a vendor gives you information, if you get a bad vibe from them, politely place it in the no bag, thank them, and walk away. Then, if you talk to a vendor you like, take their information, put it in the "Yes" bag. This way, once you get home, you can throw the "No" bag away, and look through the "Yes" bag. Otherwise, you get home, forget who was who, mix up faces, and then book the wrong DJ (anyone who wasn't House DJ).
Don't bring EVERYONE
Wedding fairs are a blast. They're a blast with friends, but don't bring all of them. We generally suggest one to two. Maybe make it a date between you and your fiance, or bring your mom, or your MOH. If you have a smaller bridal party, you can bring them, but don't come with more than 5. This makes things clustery, and you have a massive amount of opinions fighting for your attention. Don't add stress!
Lastly, have fun!
Wedding fair days are a blast for everyone. As a vendor, I think they are a ton of fun, and as a groom, they're a fun thing for Lauryn and I to go to. There are some things that we have learned through the years from people at fairs and through observation, that we found interesting or important, and we want to pass them on to you! So, have fun and don't stress!
Whoa.. so, I have a story for you:
So, as most of you know, Lauryn and I are engaged and working on the wedding planning process. Venues, Photographers, etc. We aren't planning anything huge, but we still need a place to do something.
Lauryn's secondary family lives in the Joplin, MO area, and her cousin is getting married this week, so we shot down there today (Thursday) to spend some time with family! On the way through though, we decided we would cruise by a new and popular wedding venue that is absolutely gorgeous. We were possibly considering it for our wedding, and even as vendors, we like to know about places as such!
So, Lauryn, Michelle (Lauryn's mom and the owner of Bride Path, an online wedding planning service), and I started down 44 and pulled off towards the venue. It was a little bit of a detour, but a leisurely country drive on a gloomy Thursday is no problem. About twenty minutes after we got off the exit, winded through the roads, and made a few wrong turns (Lauryn was driving...), we arrived at the beautifully ornate (and open) iron gate with the name of the venue designed into it. We were set back by the beauty of the venue as we pulled into the driveway, impressed with details such as the gate, the lake, the bluff, the way the one-way road that wound to the venue, the venue itself, and the brand-new black SUV parked out back. As we paused with wonder, we were lost in the sight of the lake and the architecture of the guest house and venue.
Suddenly, the lights of the SUV turned on, it backed up abruptly, and it suddenly went into drive.
You can see it: quickly in reverse, and then a sudden change of direction, the SUV slides backwards on gravel, and then moves forward with a cloud of dust, tires spinning.
So, at this point, we can't believe what we're seeing. Being in a one-lane, Lauryn throws it in reverse and backs up the 20 feet or so we were pulled in. The SUV flies (drifts) around the lake and bee-lines for us, dirt and rocks flying in the air, even going off the road at one point to shave time off of their record from the last time they ran someone off. At this point, Lauryn pulls into the road with abandon and puts it in drive. Fearfully, she guns it, and within SECONDS, the SUV is within 5 feet from us, going roughly 55-60MPH. As we increased speed, so did they, obviously chasing us off. We got about a mile away from the venue, they backed off, pulled into a driveway, and turned around.
No, this isn't a plot for Fast and Furious 9: Happily Never After. This is nothing more than a paranoid and unprofessional venue. As a vendor who serves around 100+ couples every year, I will be placing this venue on our blacklist. Also, we are in the unique position of being a medium-sized wedding vendor and being an engaged couple who is looking for a wedding venue we've never been to. I suppose this venue will continue to remain on that list for us.
Now, as the sun sets on this story, I'd like to say that the bluffs were beautiful. 😉
Guys! We're engaged (and have been for a minute..).
First, I apologize for my consistent absence from the blog.. We've been working like crazy, and I finally got a minute to stop in and say "What's up!" So, we're engaged, if you didn't know! Yes! Lauryn and I are finally going to get it done after 4 years of dating. It's been a long time coming, but we're finally going to make it happen.
"OMG, you guys are going to have a big wedding, right?"
Actually, not as likely. Let me talk through some things; bear with me:
So, I proposed on December 12th, 2018. 12-12-18 was a good number, easy to remember, and frankly, the only day I could have done it in December. So! I did it. Every year, Lauryn and I go through Christmas lights at several St. Louis staples: The St. Louis Zoo, the Anheuser Busch Brewery, and (this year), Missouri Botanical Garden. They're all magical experiences, and it's a special tradition for us.
Anyway, I had it all planned out. All of the lights opened at 5:30, and there is a very, very distinct window of roughly 15 minutes where there is still a tad bit of sunlight left from over the horizon. Well, not really sunlight, but maybe a glow. I had a friend of mine there to photograph for us, and set it up. He would be there at 5:15 to be the first one in and get setup, I had the ring in the pocket of my coat, and there was a particular spot that is special to us. It is a tunnel of lights, and every year, we take selfies in that spot, so the plan was to stop and take a selfie, no one would be around, I would take a picture, and then propose, right? WRONG!
There was absolutely nobody there when we got to the tunnel. My heart started racing, and I panicked. We get into place, and start to take our picture. At this point, Josiah, my photographer was in the background of the photo, and Lauryn was getting annoyed because this guy was in our photo. The selfie is actually comical with the story, I'll have to see if I can find it. Now, he gets out of the picture, and a group of 6 or so passes through. I KEEP TAKING SELFIES, saying I was "trying to find the right lighting". Finally, there is a spot where no one is, and a group of 20 or so is about to enter the tunnel and I just pull the trigger. As I get down on my knee and pull the ring box out of my pocket: the entire group about to enter the tunnel, I HEAR their shoes stop walking and hold their breath. Also, I am a professional orator right? I make speeches in front of crowds of 200-1,000 all the time, so making a small speech to my darling of 4 years wouldn't be an issue, right? So, I had this speech memorized:
"Lauryn, we've been together for 1,509 days. You've made me happier than I've ever been. Will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me?"
Now, here some form of what came out:
"So, we've been together for a long time **long pause**, will you marry me?"
Not exactly going to win any awards, am I?
So, to wrap that up, she said yes, and I couldn't have been happier. As we walk around the Zoo and MoBo, we are just so elated, and we start dreaming of the big wedding that everyone, including ourselves thinks we'll have.
A week or so later, rubber hits the road. We start calling places and looking at venues.
St. Louis wedding venues, listen up. ANSWER THE PHONE.
Y'all. I think we called probably 20 places, and maybe 4 answered or returned our calls. As a matter of fact, I messaged a particular one on Facebook (12/20/18), and they returned my message TODAY. (3/4/18). WTF!
Then, other vendors, and checking to see what dates were available. The same exact issue! Why won't anyone answer their phones? We can't be the only ones with this issue!
So then, we decided to cool our jets for a month or so and wait until after the New Year.
Anyway, I'll save the rest of the details and just jump to our conclusion:
We decided not to have a massive reception for a few reasons:
As wedding vendors, our availability for wedding dates suck. In 2018, we DJ'ed 74 weddings, and are projecting 120 in 2019. We don't want to wait for 2020, so we will pick one closer to the date.
Really, we're both very outgoing at our events, but as I've written elsewhere, we're all actors. We are incredible entertainers because of our ability to turn the personality on and off. Some events don't react well to a bombastic personality, whereas others may do better with someone who is outgoing and crazy. Personally for us though, we are horrible friends. Our weekends are all taken up, we are perfectly fine to go to dinner or do something quiet, but big crowds stress us out when we aren't in charge of it. It's backwards, but 🤷🏻♂️. So for us, we would rather have a quaint wedding and dinner reception with close friends and family than the big party with everyone.
3. It's Work For Us.
Straight up, the biggest reason why we don't particularly want a big reception. It's work for us. We've been doing weddings as our business for years at this point, so the *magic* is kinda dull for us. As a new bride and groom where everything is fresh, anything that happens is perfect and magical. For us, everything at a wedding happens from a process, and we know the process. It's like anything, really. If you want to like it, you don't want to see behind the curtains. It's exactly the same thing. I used to enjoy Jack in the Box.. Then I worked there as a first job. 🤢
So, really that's it! We've always said that people need to have the wedding THEY want. If you don't want a big wedding, don't have one! It is a special day between you and the love of your life, and it should be YOURS. We absolutely LOVE weddings and receptions, and we have an incredible job to be able to experience the magic through other peoples' weddings. But for our would-be wedding, it would be just kinda dull for us personally. Does that make sense?
Because we know how it works, our joy in the wedding process is watching our friends have the wedding of their dreams and helping them attain that. That is what we enjoy!
Now... I have absolutely no idea what will happen in the next year or so. We may decide to do the big thing. I would put my money on not, but life throws you some curveballs, and by "life", I mean fiancés.