wedding cake cleveland renaissance

Cleveland Bridal Shows

A Checklist for Attending a Bridal Show

When planning your wedding, should you attend Cleveland bridal shows? This is a relevant question this time of year since engagement season is in full swing and there are many bridal shows in the Cleveland area. With over 20 years of wedding photography experience and over 12 of those participating in bridal shows in northeast Ohio, I would like to, humbly, share some thoughts on attending bridal shows.

Bridal Shows in Cleveland

If you have no wedding vendors reserved yet, a bridal show is the perfect opportunity to check out a multitude of vendors in in different categories. The best bridal shows will limit the number of vendors that they have in each category which will make the show less stressful and easier as you’re able to spend more time with each one. There are some shows that are HUGE, offering all types of services (some even offering basement waterproofing and replacement windows! ), so you will need to decide the scale of each show and if they will help you accomplish your goals. I used to participate in the huge shows, but it was nearly impossible to spend the quality time needed to communicate effectively with interested couples. I am participating in smaller more intimate shows this year. This will allow me AND the brides and grooms to engage much more effectively. It’s just as important for me to get to know potential clients as it is for them to get to know me.

Merry Rini of Merry Me Creations Bridal shows suggests creating an e-mail address devoted to wedding planning. That way, the crush of e-mails that you are sure to receive will only go to that e-mail and won’t clog up your everyday e-mail. I have heard of brides getting e-mails from wedding vendors years after their wedding date.

Have a Plan When Attending a Bridal Fair

Secondly, once you have decided on which shows to attend, have a game plan. What are you trying to accomplish at the show? Have a written plan and stick to it. It is easy to get overwhelmed, especially at the large, less intimate shows. Pay attention to the written game plan. Leslianne Lake of Beloved Ohio  states, “Have a plan – check the list of vendors – make a list of the ones you MUST see.”  Do you need to first book your reception venue? Visit the reception venues. Do you need a photographer? Visit all of the photographers that fit your style.  Visit the vendors that you need and spend the necessary time needed to make an initial decision to research them further. Then you can, eventually, meet with them so you can spend as much time as is needed to learn everything that you can about that vendor. Which leads me to my next very important point.

bridesmaid signing marriage license

A bridal show is not the time to make an impulsive decision to buy.

I highlighted that sentence for a very good reason. Of course the vendors will want to you book them on the spot (who wouldn’t) and some shows even encourage this. Some will offer you “show specials” to tempt you to make a decision on the spot. Avoid this at all costs. Leslianne Lake adds, “Don’t feel pressured to buy it now!  You always have the right to decide later – if you aren’t ready don’t buy, wait til you investigate your options and make the best decision for your big day!” Your wedding day is much too important to make a rash decision just to save a couple of bucks. You should spend time researching and getting as much information about each vendor as you can. Then, you can make an educated decision and get the best vendor that fits your specific needs and budget. Again, avoid impulse buying when planning your wedding.

While at the bridal show, it is only necessary to take marketing material from vendors that you are interested in. That way, you don’t have to sift thru unnecessary items just to get to the vendors that you were interested in, if you can even recall them. Both Merry and Leslianne suggest a special bag specifically for these marketing materials.  You may speak to so many different vendors that you might not recall all those you spoke with. Taking information from only those that you are interested in eliminates this challenge (If a vendor is jumping out in the aisles trying to hand you information, I wouldn’t even bother acknowledging them.

The high pressure, hard sale is trying to create an impulse to buy on the spot or get your e-mail address and I’ve already addressed the pitfalls of that.You won’t find those type of vendors at the much smaller shows). If you would like vendors who interest you to follow up with you, provide them with contact information like your unique wedding planning e-mail. Merry Rini even suggests making labels with this information on it to save time (great idea!).

flower girl dresses at wedding reception in dover

Review Favorite Wedding Vendors from Bridal Show

Once you return home, you can review your favorite vendors, visit their websites and look for online reviews. Then you can narrow it down to the ones that you would like to meet with.  Like I said, getting as much information and doing thorough research will enable you to make the best most educated decision about who you should use on your wedding day. And that is the ultimate goal of attending bridal shows.

Thank you to Merry Rini of Merry Me Creations and Leslianne Lake of Beloved Ohio for their contributions to this post.

Be sure to come out and see me at these two great bridal shows:

Click the links for more information:

Merry Me Creations Bridal Show


Here are some tips on what to avoid when planning your wedding. 

popping chamgagne at the cleveland renaissance