Print Edition: March 25, 2015
Every year there are several bridal wedding shows in the Fraser Valley, but I never paid attention to them until a wedding was actually looming in my life.
I went the Fraser Valley Wedding Show for three reasons: free swag, contests, and the chance to explore options. Having yet to decide on the little things (like cosmetics, hair stylists and accessories) I thought it would be nice to try out some options. Also, the bride usually gets in for free. I went with my fiancé and my unofficial maid of honour (I’m not having a wedding party).
As soon as we arrived, I was given the promised free entry and swag bag. The contents of that bag should have been a warning sign — it was just a bunch of pamphlets and magazines, and two measly make-up products.
Even before I entered the hall, I wondered, are wedding shows just a glorified advertising event? Cue the loud music, crowds, and colourful booths. There was a stage with wedding singers. Models in wedding dresses swept around, giving brides-to-be business cards. A chocolate fondue fountain surrounded by platters of fresh fruit and marshmallows drew attendees like moths.
The booths were selling everything from perfume to overseas honeymoons. I felt a bit like I was wandering through the internet after Google searching “wedding.” Dresses! Cakes! Makeovers! Wine tours! Entertainment! Photography! Instead of pop-up advertisements, vendors circled, trying to catch my eye and ask me about my “big day.”
The thing I disliked the most was the vendors. They worked so hard to get you in a conversation, but it was clear they weren’t looking for a person like me. How many people in your wedding party? None. Who’s your caterer? I’m doing my own. Well, what about your cake? My opa’s on it. Have you booked your honeymoon? Yep, two nights at Harrison Hot Springs.
Not only were they not looking for someone like me, but I wasn’t interested in what they had to offer. Most of their products were for a conventional $15,000 wedding, marketed with phrases like “pamper yourself” and “the most special day of your life.” I’m a romantic person, but I’m also a critical consumer, so when I hear that language it raises red flags. Can the day still be special without your $5,000 photography package? Probably.
I am a sucker for contests, so I spent a lot of time putting my info into the contest draw. Unfortunately, a week later I’m receiving way too much spam, and I still haven’t won a flight to the Bahamas.
Wedding shows aren’t completely useless; I did get to talk to local vendors, try on perfume, try some nice wines, and get information on suits for my fiancé. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re considering wedding shows.
Do it early on
My wedding is in May, so a lot of details are hammered down already. It would have been useful to attend a show earlier on to get some ideas about what’s out there. I tried an amazing red velvet cupcake that I probably would have considered for my wedding had I not already made decisions on the dessert front. It’s a bit depressing to see décor ideas, and then regret not planning that for your own wedding.
Bring your friends!
Bring your entourage. I was with my fiancé (who, by the way, vendors mostly ignored; apparently the bride is in charge of weddings) and maid of honour, and it was a blast. We could make fun of overpriced wedding packages, gorge ourselves shamelessly by the fondue fountain, and save each other from pushy vendors. It’s all part of the getting-married experience.
Some vendors try to convince you that they’re giving you a show-exclusive deal, or get you to “spin the wheel” and claim an amazing prize. It’s usually not a great deal, so be prepared to say “no thanks” if they’re trying to get your name and number so you can claim your “prize.” Take everything with a grain of salt, and just have fun!