I love a wedding fayre. The chance to wander around, browse all manner of things that you didn’t even realise you needed for your wedding. Ogling the beautiful dresses, sampling some cake, having a makeover, admiring the beautiful vintage car your fiancé/fiancée REALLY must have as your transport on the day. It’s all rather lovely. But it can also be a tad overwhelming.
So what do you do to get the most out of the day (and out of us exhibitors)?
*** At this point I suggest you grab a cuppa and a slice of cake, this is a longer than usual blog post ***
Pre-registration for a fayre always comes with perks. Most provide a show guide or list of exhibitors before the show. Use this to plan who you might want to talk to and cross off suppliers you already have in place. Check out the websites and social media of exhibitors to see if they appeal to you. Be savvy and you will come home with more than if you randomly browsed.
Here is what you should be asking your exhibitors:
- Where are you based? If the exhibitor is happy to travel (and you are happy to pay the cost) this isn’t so important. But for things such as flowers, cake, cars, choosing a local supplier is a good move. Do you want your cake to travel for a couple of hours to reach you? Think of the speed bumps, think of the time sat in the boot of a car in unregulated temperatures. Think of the potential for disaster. I have done it before. I once delivered my friend’s wedding cake from Windsor to Cardiff. In 32C heat. On a Friday afternoon on the M4. It was nerve wracking for me, for my husband who was driving, and for my friend. The cake survived, and everyone loved it, but it had started to wilt a bit in the heat. It wasn’t as perfect as I would have hoped.
- What are the trends for the upcoming season/next year? Test the exhibitor’s knowledge. Do they sound like they are confident on their subject matter? Not just on trends but their own ideas too. Do you share similar tastes? Can you feel a rapport with them? Planning a wedding can take months, even years. You will be communicating with these people regularly. If you don’t get on with them, will you want to approach them to ask questions?
- Pricing – don’t be afraid to talk money (after all, weddings can cost a lot!). It is a waste of time for you and the exhibitor to be having a lovely old chat if you are then not within each other’s budget expectations. Ask starting price, ask special show offers. Feel free to say to them, politely, that you expected to pay less (or more). A good supplier will offer suggestions to meet your budget, or alternative suppliers you might wish to talk to. They won’t judge you, we all know everything runs to a budget – hey, us exhibitors are running a business! But also, bear that in mind. You wouldn’t work for less than minimum wage, so don’t expect us to …
- How far in advance would we need to book? Always a good question and worth asking, especially if your wedding is six months or less away (it can be done – my own wedding to Mr Betty Bee was four months from setting the date to W-Day). It will also give you some idea of how to apply your budget and when to expect to pay out for certain things.
- Do you offer samples? I’m not just talking cake here – stationery, fabrics, flowers even. Ask for samples. Can’t get a sample, ask for a brochure. Can you take photos (some exhibitors will say no, but some will be more than happy for you to take a record of their work). Don’t be THAT couple who are like scavengers on a junk yard reality TV show, helping themselves to all the freebies they can lay their hands on. But a bit of careful collecting of items to take home and consider at your leisure is always a good plan.
- Where can we view your work? Social media, websites, magazines, customer testimonials. If the supplier isn’t happy to share, politely make your excuses and move on. We have created a product for you and paid good money to stand at the Wedding Fayre, we should be shouting it from the rooftops.
- How many weddings do you work on per week? This depends on the product and the size of the company you are talking to. With cakes, for example, I would aim to only have one wedding cake to deliver and set up per day. This is a s much for my own sanity as anything else. Depending on design and timings I can theoretically accommodate up to four cakes per week in high season. But I will probably choose not to do that. Feel free to ask a supplier if they will be exclusively supplying your wedding that day. If not, ask about logistics. You are paying a lot of money for a service, you are allowed to satisfy yourself you will receive that service.
- Do you have a mailing list / business card? Take the exhibitors contact details and sign up to their mailing lists. This is the best way of keeping them in mind for when you are ready to commit to that all-important booking!
So that’s quite a big list, but this is a two-way conversation. Remember I said be prepared. Well, here’s your pre-show homework:
- Have you set a date yet? If the answer is Yes – brilliant! We know you are serious and on the hunt for suppliers. Let’s talk date and availability. If the answer is No, that isn’t the end of the world. Give us some encouragement! Tell us the season/month and year you are hoping to marry in. But if you are just browsing with no specific timeframe, be aware that suppliers want to pin down the couples who have potential to book with them imminently. I’m happy to chat to everyone, but I know some suppliers who won’t even bother speaking to couples who are just browsing with no specific date in mind.
- Have you got a venue in mind? This influences everything: date, budget, style, ease of set-up for a vendor, potential cost. The weather can have an impact too. Remember the cake I took from Windsor to Wales on the hottest weekend of the year so far? It survived that, but then had to sit in a marquee with no air con all afternoon. Luckily the design stood up to the conditions, but a buttercream-covered cake, or a semi-naked one, may not have fared so well.
- Have you got a style/theme in mind? I like to mix up my designs, I don’t necessarily have a specific style. Other suppliers might have very definite design influences. Does it fit your ideas? Can we make it work? If I don’t think I can do justice to your theme I won’t waste your time. So share your inspiration and I’ll see if our ideas match.
- How long have you been planning the wedding? This isn’t necessarily an important question, but I’m nosey. It can also help me understand where you are in the process. You may have been planning for a couple of years, devoting every free moment to your mood boards and supplier search (and sneaking in some planning at work too!). If you have mission fatigue then I know I need to take decisive action to get your order. Alternatively, if you are new to the planning game, then I can help you mould your idea over a longer period. Although be warned, I once met a couple at a wedding fayre who had only been engaged for a week! The poor man looked like a rabbit in the headlights. I suspect they didn’t make it much further down the planning route, let alone all the way to the vows!
The main thing about a wedding fayre is to enjoy it. As an exhibitor I certainly do. I love chatting to couples and hearing about their plans, I love sharing my knowledge with them. I also love chatting to my fellow exhibitors (some who have become friends), networking and sharing experiences with them. It’s hard work for the exhibitors and for the visitors, but it can be so worthwhile. So, plan who you want to see and what you want to learn about, go prepared with a pen and paper and lots of questions. Wear comfy shoes! But above all, come back home with a bag full of leaflets and a head full of ideas.
Happy Wedding Fayre,
If you want to see where I am next exhibiting, then check out the welcome page for updates.