By Emma Young
“The biggest change over the last decade in wedding planning is the availability of online resources,” said Marc McIntosh, producer of Wedding Experience, a leading wedding planning show in our multi-state region. “Every business has a website, listings in online wedding directories, reviews, and a Facebook page. [And] the demographic of the typical couple getting married is one that has grown up with the internet and all these resources available to them. Most are very comfortable making buying decisions very quickly based on what they see online,” McIntosh continued. But that wedding event decision you make based only on a review of online resources is exactly what you shouldn’t do.
Wedding Experience Speaks: Meetings Matter
A cherished and memorable day in your history as a couple, your wedding celebration should be entrusted not only to professionals who are well-organized but with whom you feel comfortable. Though the online reviews might indicate they’ll give you jaw-dropping results, if you’re not at ease with them or don’t feel they have your own interests, desires, and vision at heart, your jaw may be dropping from regret and disappointment. That is why meetings in person are a key component when hiring wedding specialists. “In focus groups with recently married couples, 97% would not make a major decision for their wedding without having a face-to-face meeting,” noted McIntosh.
“At the beginning of the wedding planning process, many couples don’t see the need or recognize the value in face-to-face meetings with the wedding professionals they are considering. At some point along the way, perhaps after meeting someone who had a great website and glowing reviews, the light bulb goes off and, they realize it’s not a good match,’” explained McIntosh. “You will work with many of your wedding vendors very closely,” he continued. “Your photographer hypothetically could be skilled and have an artistic touch with nice work, but the personality is a very important component. You’re working very intimately on your wedding day and it has to be a good match, a good personality fit. Are we compatible? Do we like your style? There is no way to learn that without sitting down and talking about it. See if you’re comfortable trusting them with capturing the memories of your wedding which you are going to have forever.”
The voice of experience may be right, but who has time to schedule, let alone actually meet with all those potentially involved: photographers, venues, coordinators, DJs and musicians, florists, bakers, caterers, stylists, and other experts?
Enter the wedding show. In one intensive and fun day, you have an efficient way to meet with wedding professionals before you ever consider signing on the dotted line. Every exhibitor at a wedding show likely has a website, Facebook page, or some way online to find information, details, and recommendations about their services, but “one thing we provide is the face-to-face meeting: you can smell the beautiful flowers, taste the delicious cakes, touch the gorgeous dresses, and meet the people you are going to trust with your wedding day,” said McIntosh.
Who attends wedding shows? “Savvy consumers who are want to explore their options and are looking for value,” explained McIntosh. “Businesses have had to adapt because the market has shown consumers there are deals to be had and they need to ask for them and look for them,” he noted. A key advantage as a savvy shopper is attending a show. Wedding professionals feature specials for those attending.
Wedding Professionals Book Far in Advance
“Weddings take a little bit longer to plan,” explained McIntosh. “The best wedding professionals tend to get booked 6, 12, 18 months in advance, which runs counter to the typical purchase, such as shoes, where I quickly find what I want, order them, and have them on my feet the next day.” In short, everything can be done quickly. “You need to shift gears when planning a wedding. A lot of couples learn the hard way that they waited or rushed and the best vendors and locations are booked well in advance,” said McIntosh. By attending a show, you not only are able to quickly narrow down your choices in face-to-face meetings, but you save time on those meetings, and then can book chosen vendors in reasonable time and using specials offered at the show.
Wedding Show Game Plan
“Come in with a game plan,” advised McIntosh. “Visit the website in advance, see who is going to be there, and plot a course of action. Come with a list of questions and use your time to engage vendors and people in conversation.” Also, keep an open mind. If you don’t know a product or service exists, you wouldn’t have googled or planned to look at it.
Take the Bridal Buddy, a slip that you personally use to lift your gown, helping you go the bathroom on your own. Bridal Buddy sales increased dramatically after being spotted and filmed at a wedding show, and then shared hundreds of thousands of times through social media.
“The show is like a treasure hunt,” said McIntosh. “Lots of people or products might not fit into a standard category [e.g., baker, photographer, or wedding planner]. Use the show as an opportunity to explore options and be open to new ideas.”
A Wedding Experience
Wedding Experience is more than a treasure hunt for discerning shoppers, more than a standard wedding show: it’s “an experience you cannot replicate online,” McIntosh stated. “We’ve added a lot of features to our show to make it fun and compelling.” Tasting sumptuous food, seeing stunning arrangements, and touching exquisite gowns, are part of the day, but the experience goes beyond what delights vendors offer. Take the Ring Selfie Station as an example, where those engaged can take a picture with their ringed-fingers against a variety of unique, and interactive backgrounds, and post the pictures online- Sand and shells ona beach, burlap and scrabble letters arranged with your own wording, pearls and feathers, et cetera, and mix and match with glee. “It’s wildly popular,” stated McIntosh.
Where to Find Your Wedding Experience
Richmond, Northern Virginia, D.C., and Baltimore all host Wedding Experience at various times, including the beginning of the year, spring, and fall dates. Check http://www.weddingexperience.com/ for dates and locations. With so many options, Wedding Experience can truly help get you from “To Do” to “I Do.”
Emma Young is a freelance writer, mom and wife, who calls northern Virginia home.