Top tips for going to a bridal show

Feb 23, 2010 at 12:58 a.m. ET

It's bridal show season! All across the country convention centers, wedding venues and hotels are filling up with eager wedding vendors and brides and grooms. You can find bridal shows in your area by going to wedding websites like that provide local listings. But the real question is, should you go, and, if you do, how do you get the most out of it? While bridal shows can be a great one-stop shopping experience for getting information on a variety of wedding vendors, they can also be crowded, confusing and overwhelming.

Woman at Bridal Expo

Be Comfortable

Obviously, this is a place for flats -- you'll be walking around a lot and there won't be a lot of places to sit down and rest. If the bridal show has dress designers (for either wedding dresses or bridesmaids dresses) make sure to wear leggings and a t-shirt under your clothes so that you can try on items.

Don't Go Alone

Having your groom, a bridesmaid, or your mom with you will keep you from making rash decisions, or from being pressured into a decision that isn't right for you. A lot of booths at bridal shows have contests and giveaways. Bringing helpers gives you extra entries! Finally, bridal shows provide GREAT people watching, which is much more fun with company. You can talk them into going by explaining that there's almost always cake samples!

Come Prepared

Bring a large canvas tote bag, or even a small bag with wheels to carry around information from various vendors (and FREE magazines and other goodies). Consider pre-printing your contact information (including your wedding date) on labels or small cards so that you can easily enter contests, and leave your info with vendors you like. If you have colors, bring swatches or pictures so that you can match colors and give the vendors an idea of what your tastes. Don't forget to bring a notepad and pen to take notes along with your calendar so that you can make appointments.

Do Your Research

Before going to a show try and find out who the target audience for the show is. Obviously, all bridal shows target engaged women, but is the show targeting a specific type of bride? Pay attention to who the sponsor of the show is. If the show is being sponsored by a local hip-hop station, and you don't like hip-hop music or fashion then it's probably not a good fit for you. Many shows charge admission, but have free admission for people who pre-register, or other ways of avoiding the cost. If there is a cost, it should be reasonable. Remember, you're going to the show to give other people business, you shouldn't pay a lot of money for the "honor" of seeing what they have to offer.

If you live in area that's still covered in snow or slush this time of year, then by all means spend a day inside dreaming of warmer weather and your wedding day!

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