SHOW ME YOUR WARES
Having recently displayed my wares at my first wedding fair in over a year I thought I’d take the opportunity to let you know what I think of them. Unlike novels or films, I believe it is common when writing a blog to give your audience the conclusion of your insights at the beginning of the article in order to keep them (that’s you) hooked. Shakespeare called this foreshadowing and dropped spoilers all over the place as prologues. Far be it for me to challenge the Bard or indeed experienced bloggers everywhere by deviating from good practice. So I will start by saying that in spite of my initial preconceptions, wedding fairs are a good thing and if you are planning a wedding then you should go to a couple.
The temptation of Mjölnir
That being said, four years ago when I was planning my own wedding and had no links to the wedding industry at all, even the mighty Thor (by whom I obviously mean Chris Hemsworth) and his huge and persuasive hammer (dirty) could not have tempted me to attend one. In my mind they were full of airhead brides who couldn’t think of anything else except their wedding day and took joy in spending their every waking minute dragging their partners around these tedious and overcrowded events. Aside from the bridezillas and their subjugated partners, I also believed the fairs would be full of pushy sales people trying to foist services on me that I wouldn’t be able to afford.
Glengarry Glen Ross
So, why the change of heart? Well obviously I’m on the other side of the table now, I’m one of the sales people. Except I’m not, I’m no good at sales. My skills are graphic design and photography, not targets and lead generation. And that’s the same for the cake maker and the florist and the dress designer and all the other vendors you’ll find and these events. They’re all just people with creative skills who just want to tell you about what they can offer, and if you’re not interested you can just walk away.
In general we’re rubbish at walking away though aren’t we? I call it Market Stall Withdrawal Complex. Market stalls aren’t like shops, the vendor is right there, watching your every move. By even approaching the stall you are letting them know that you’re a potential customer and if you actually handle any goods then it’s game over. You feel like you’ve entered into some unspoken contract to buy and if you just put the stuff down and walk away you’ll be rude and disappoint them. And nobody likes an unsatisfactory withdrawal. But guess what? Stallholders and by extension wedding fair vendors are not expecting to make a sale every time! Crazy news right? They don’t mind if you walk away, in fact they’re expecting it. Someone else will be along in a minute. So here’s my first helpful tip for surviving wedding fairs: When you’ve learnt all you want to know then you just say: “Well, thanks for your time, I’ve got your card, goodbye.” And then you leave. Simple.
A Magpie Mind
Here’s my second helpful tip (It’s a whirlwind of information, I know, but try to keep up.) Wedding fairs are chock full of inspiration and cool stuff that you’ve never thought of. Having now been part of the wedding industry for a few years, I’ve seen so many great ideas that I missed out on when I got married just because I didn’t know about them. It makes me want to do it all over again. (I’ll keep the same husband though because he buys me all those minks and sables and all that stuff I want. (Alright! Calm down feminists and animal welfare dudes, I come in peace, that was just a quote from Aretha Franklin, which I used in irony because I’m such a wit… Actually, I used to think she was saying ‘meats and savouries’, not ‘minks and sables’ so you can see how my priorities fall.)) Anyway, my use of double parenthesis means I’ve gone off-piste. My point is that you can go to these fairs just to have a look and steal ideas, some of the time you’ll see things you like and think you could make it yourself, or do it your own way, or get your crafty mum to make one for you. And that’s okay, it’s your wedding, you’re allowed. But you also might find the very thing you’ve been looking for and want to employ the person on the other side of the stall to sort it out for you.
Permission to judge
This leads me to my third point (we’re cooking on gas now). If you’re going to employ people to execute your wedding vision then you need to get out there and meet them. This is going to sound a bit crazy, but when I got married I didn’t employ a professional photographer because all the ones I knew and trusted were part of the wedding party. I risked having some really dodgy photos just because I didn’t personally know anyone professional who could do the job. As it happens it turned out fine and I wouldn’t change my wedding photos for all the world, but this is not something I would encourage anyone to take a chance on. Meeting and liking the people you are going to work with is so important. Make sure they are your type of people; make sure you trust them and that they’re going to do what you want them to do. A wedding fair is a great starting point for a commitment free chat and a safe place to judge people based on your first impressions, and how often are we allowed to do that nowadays?
So now we reach the unsurprising conclusion: go to some wedding fairs. Not because I want you to book me when you see me there (though that would be nice), but because it will make your wedding day better. They come in all shapes and sizes from small vendor showcases that are venue-specific, to huge weekend festivals. There are alternative fairs, big posh fairs, tiny local fairs. Just find one that suits your vibe and check it out. I promise you wont be sorry.