Here’s a question I hear all the time from wedding videographers: Are bridal shows effective? Can bridal shows really bring in the brides and, more importantly, the money?According to the Association For Wedding Professionals International (AFWPI), bridal shows in the U.S. draw 30% of the brides planning weddings, with more than 6,000 bridal shows occurring each year.
In the early years of my business, I participated in a few bridal shows to get my name out into the market. In fact, I met one bridal consultant at a bridal show who was just starting up his consulting business. More than 15 years later, we’re still working together. Keep in mind that making just one good contact while at the show can make the whole show worthwhile.
Before you get involved in doing a bridal show, you’ll want to find how long the organizer has been managing bridal shows. Ask how many brides (not overall attendees) are expected to attend. Also find out if the bride must pay to attend the show or if she gets in free (bridal shows that require brides to pay are more likely to attract high-end brides). Also ask how many videographers will be there.
Last year, after a decade or so of not doing bridal shows, I exhibited at two shows in the Chicago area. One show cost me $75 and was a bust. There were only a dozen brides, and I didn’t book a single wedding. I didn’t get any bride’s email addresses, either. It was a first-time show for the bridal consultant who produced it, and I was very disappointed in how she handled the event.
The second show was organized by a hotel with more than 50 booths on two floors. The only cost to exhibitors was that we had to donate something worth at least $50 to a raffle the hotel was holding. There were more than 100 brides in attendance, and we received email addresses and phone numbers for all the brides who had registered. I did book one wedding from the show, and I met a photographer with whom I started doing business shortly thereafter, so the show was definitely worthwhile for me.
Bridal show costs can vary greatly. Some are free, but spending $900 or more for a table is not unheard of. Regardless of how much you spend, keep a few things in mind if you plan to have a table at the show.Arrive early to set up your table. You need time to handle any last-minute mishaps that may occur. You want to have time for networking before the show starts. Have an eye-catching display and don’t forget an extension cord. Including tasty chocolates on your table is a good idea.
Stand in front of your display. Don’t put space between you and the bride. Stand in front of your booth and be the first to welcome people as they pass by. Put your people skills to good use—practice being an extrovert even if you aren’t one.
Have a giveaway. This helps you collect names and numbers that you can later follow up with (in case the bridal show doesn’t provide this information). If you have a big backlog, think twice before you give away a service that will take more of your time. A wedding planning book is a nice giveaway.
Have at least two people in your booth. You can’t possibly handle everything. You need someone to answer questions if you are tied up with a serious inquiry. Some videographers like to have previous brides sell for them. Dress professionally. It goes without saying, but at one show I saw a photographer sales associate dressed in sweats. Brides didn’t care and still stopped by her table (which she was standing behind), but sometimes, we videographers just have to work harder for the sale.
Show your best work. It’s best to show cinematic highlights as opposed to a full wedding. Put your video display high so people walking by can see it. Keep audio low enough that your neighbors can talk to their brides.In the February/March 2008 issue of ABC Dialogue (the Association of Bridal Consultants’ bimonthly magazine), wedding professionals were asked, "Do you participate in bridal shows? If so, what do you find beneficial from them and what do you do with the list of participants?" The survey revealed that bridal consultants have mixed feelings on bridal shows. Here are some of the responses:Jennifer Bednaraczyk of Old Bridge, N.J.-based Occasions by Design said, "I have participated in bridal shows but did not find them beneficial to find new clients; however, I do attend them now to see what vendors are in my area and what is out there and to research for my clients."
Kelly Daab of Dayton, Ohio-based Hand in Hand Bridal said, "I have participated in bridal shows. They are an excellent way as a new consultant to get to know the vendors, see what kind of ‘deals’ they offer, and collect information."
Diane Lansleen of Simi Valley, Calif.-based Emily Rose Papers said, "We do not participate in bridal shows. They have not provided a viable return on my investment."
Most vendors find that bridal shows are a bit of a gamble. Some days you get lucky, and some days you don’t. By utilizing some of the tips here, you can increase your odds of having a good show. Stay positive, be enthusiastic, and let your passion for wedding videography come through—there’s a good chance you will hit the jackpot!
Kris Malandruccolo (kris at elegantvideosbykris.com), an EventDV 25 honoree and 2007 WEVA Hall of Fame inductee, is the owner of Chicago-based Elegant Videos by Kris and Elegant Storybooks by Kris. She is a certified Master Wedding Vendor through the Association of Bridal Consultants, WEVA Public Relations Chair, an international speaker, and past-president of the Illinois Videographers Association.