Julia Braime of Unveiled magazine and top UK wedding blog and events producer Brides Up North, talks to Wedding Trader about the value of exhibiting at local consumer bridal shows
It’s official: bridal shows are making a comeback (if they ever went away in the first place). Leading wedding fair producers are offering events that are more diverse, exciting and better for your business than ever before – as long as you
pick the right show for you and your dream clients.
I’m the founder of wedding blog and leading events brand Brides Up North, championing suppliers and celebrations in the Northern half of the country and the host of around 40 bridal events of varying venue, theme and size each year. Having been in business for almost ten years, there’s not much I haven’t experienced when it comes to wedding fairs – the bad, the good, the best and the even better.
In the age of blogs and social media, we have predicted a move away from concepts like print publishing and visiting wedding shows as a means for couples to draw together their big day team.
Indeed, for a few years back there, as the online presence of the top blogs became stratospheric and brides and grooms took to Pinterest and Instagram as their main sources of inspiration, it looked like in-person planning might become a thing if the past. Not so.
The backlash has begun: for 2019, our exhibitor bookings and bridal enquiries have reached a fever pitch. The events are bustling with talented suppliers – often selling out – with queues at opening time of eager couples. As an aside, our biannual print magazine Unveiled is also regularly at capacity on sponsored contributor space as we struggle to maintain stylish layout standards and resist selling advertising inches to ‘just anyone’ who will buy it.
It seems that couples once again want to shop with all five senses – to touch, taste, talk and try before they buy. Whilst they are very much still getting their inspiration online, they also want the experience that comes with planning a wedding, and our glossy magazine and bridal events calendar meet that need perfectly.
From a supplier bookings point of view, there is no better way to engage with potential clients and show them what you can do than meeting them face to face. Weddings are an emotive affair, and most couples want to build a team that they like and trust.
The value in a bridal event is that it gives that initial contact personality and breathing space. It’s hard for a couple to go elsewhere once you have their engaged interest and have built a rapport as well as presenting an excellent product in an all-round enjoyable and uplifting environment.
But whilst I say hallelujah to all of that and suggest that there’s a wedding event for every bridal business out there, I would still preach caution to those looking to invest.
All wedding fairs are not made equal. It would be easy for me to stand on my soapbox and say why our shows are the best, but in reality they might not be the perfect fit for you and your ideal customer. If they are, of course, we’d love to hear from you, but I’d always prefer that any client does their homework before parting with their deposit.
My top tips for suppliers looking to try out a wedding show for the first time would be:
Pick Your Team
Work with a wedding show organiser who has a track record for putting on high-quality events, both in the type of suppliers that they work with and the sort and numbers of couples that they attract.
Ask other suppliers for recommendations and booking conversion information and don’t be afraid to raise any queries with the producer themselves. A reputable company will answer any questions honestly and try to guide you towards the right show for you. A good host would rather have a client’s repeat business than a quick sale that’s totally wrong for the business in question.
Consider the sort of client that you would like to attract and try to align your business with the type of events that they would enjoy. We try to offer a wide choice in our portfolio from luxurious stately home events, via industrial chic and country charm to full-on festival fun. If you aren’t sure, ask the organiser which events that they think you would be a good fit for. Bear in mind that bigger does not always mean better.
The best events sell out for that reason. Get in touch with organisers and venues who you would like to work with as soon as possible to ensure your space and take advantage of early-bird rates and booking discounts. Reputable organisers will limit supplier numbers by type of service and popular shows can often book out years in advance in some categories.
Brides and grooms are very often looking to connect with suppliers in their immediate area or the vicinity of their venue. Added travel time and cost can put a couple off and means extra hassle for you. Look for good events that are local to where you are based or where you want to work.
Venue-based events can often be very effective for wedding businesses as they cover two bases – putting your products or services in front of the type of client that would be shopping at your chosen venue and, additionally, forging links with the venue team themselves. There’s no better way to get in front of as many ready-to-book couples as possible than to be on a venue’s events team’s radar whilst supporting their wedding shows. I’d always recommend supporting the larger, professionally-hosted wedding fairs at a venue as well as open days, as the footfall will be larger and more diverse, offering the opportunity to spread your sales across additional venues – with the potential to make even more connections.
All The Admin There shouldn’t be much legwork involved beyond picking the event that will work for you and turning up on the day, but to keep things moving smoothly make sure to fill out any booking forms and make payments on time when these are requested.
Beware of shows asking for big payments upfront as you should be able to secure your space with just a deposit payment. You may also be asked to complete risk assessment forms and provide PAT test certificates for electrical equipment. Ask your organiser what is required if you are unsure. A good producer will provide an exhibitor pack and any pertinent details prior to the event, as well as marketing materials to share on your social media channels.
On The Day We always encourage our exhibitors to go all out on event day – the better the show looks overall, the better experience the visitors will have and the more likely they are to make bookings. Your producer should be on hand to help with any last-minute issues and to make sure that you have everything you need.
Once the show is open, an engaging stand, information for the couples to take away, a tablet for data capture and a welcoming smile is all you need.
More info? bridesupnorth.com/exhibit
Since its launch in 2010, Brides Up North has skyrocketed in popularity and profile to become one of the most visited wedding blogs in the UK, and is the top bridal blog for Northern Brides.
Brides Up North has been named Best Blog for Northern Brides by Channel 4; crowned Best Big Day Inspiration blog and Best Social Medi” platform in the Wedding Magazine Awards and Best Wedding Blog” in the Northern Blog Awards, Brides Up North was also a finalist in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, Vuelio Blog Awards and UK Blog Awards)
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