Our Wedding Chronicles: Bridal Expos & Contests

Shameless plug: Please vote for “A Grand Affair” on this Facebook contest so Ezrael and I can win $500 to put toward our dream wedding! Vote everyday through this Friday (9/14) <3

Everything is expensive nowadays and I’m on the hunt for good deals and securing 2012 pricing.

Bridal expos are exhausting, but worth it for someone with my personality. I went to FOUR bridal shows this weekend. NOT necessary, but I kinda enjoy them. An expo can have anywhere from 20-200 vendors from the surrounding area in which the expo is held. My first one was at the LA Convention Center so you can only imagine how huge it was. Definitely register early! Most expo pre-print personalized labels with your contact info and wedding date so you don’t waste time filling out information cards at each booth. [These cards serve as both marketing contact collection AND usually raffle entries.] You can visit the type of vendors you still need, enjoy samples/free stuff, get some ideas (if you’re not ready to solidly plan), and participate in raffles and other entertainment. I’ve walked out with free bridal magazines, homemade cooking salt, earrings, sangria mix, compact mirrors, free facial certificates… pretty cool! Not to mention you get to indulge in cake and cupcake samples all day.

Free samples :)

Most vendors offer a deal to expo attendees BUT you must be ready to book either on the spot or within a short time period. A lot also give you the deal if you sign up for a free consultation appointment while at the expo. Bringing your check book/credit card and calendar is a must. ALWAYS take flyers/information to remind you who you actually talked to. A great advantage to having all the vendors in one place is that you get to talk to them face-to-face. This gives you a feel for their personality and style–you can gauge how comfortable you feel with them and already start figuring out if they’re a viable option. Every vendor you show any interest in should be engaging you! Trying to sell their services in person with samples/info all there should make for an easy sell. I get offended when I am lingering at someone’s booth and they don’t offer me information or a deal or entertain my interest in any way. OMG, and when they just tell me to go to the website… really? I could have done that at home. It should like a bunch of introductory meetings/phone calls without having to go out of your way.

When I get home, I go through my baggie that is chock-full of flyers and info. I toss out the ones that I didn’t click with, weren’t too impressive, or don’t really have a good deal. I also dump the one with tacky flyers! It’s not like there is a single perfect vendor for any service… so I’m not afraid to throw the extra stuff away and forget about it. There’s enough going on in my head to care about every person I met at the expo and think of them as an option. After picking and choosing what stood out, I go onto their website for more samples/pricing, as well as find reviews on Wedding Wire or The Knot. I like to send a few emails and make notes about who I actually want to meet. Typical rule of thumb is to interview three vendors max per service. Since I’ve done research and met some of them already… these three should be what I consider the cream of the crop–within my budget of course!

Bridal Expo Cliff Notes

  • Register early! You get more free stuff and labels.
  • Arrive early–lines get long! Stay as long as possible if you want to win more raffles!
  • TALK to every vendor you’re interested in, don’t just take the info.
  • Get ALL the free things and enter all the raffles!
  • Sort all the info afterwards and toss the less appealing stuff.
  • Read reviews online and make a list of who you’re actually considering.
  • Bargain for the best deal! “So and so was offering me this service for this much…”

Did you know there is A LOT of free stuff floating around? Numerous contests and raffles, if only you can endure a few hours of typing up your info and inevitably get spam email. Statistics show if you enter a sh*tload of raffles/contests/sweepstakes, you will eventually win some.

Before I left for San Francisco, I was on a contest binge… spending about 4 hours a day entering wedding contests. Free honeymoons, jewelry, wedding favors, books… it’s ALL out there. It wasn’t so fruitful, but then again, most giveaway entry periods haven’t ended yet. It’s good my wedding is far away for the sake of entering to win more free stuff!

I did start thinking it wasn’t the best use of my time, until one day at work, I received an email saying I was chosen as finalist for a Pinterest contest! And sure enough, I won :) Not all hope was lost. Although the prize was “small,” it was FREE and it’s pretty cool to win something with little to no effort actually expended.

Going to 5 bridal shows has been pretty fruitful as well. A sample of my winnings:

  • Wedding rings
  • Engagement photo shoot
  • Dance floor lighting
  • Video montage
  • Hotel stay
  • Harbor Cruise in SD
  • Signed wedding design book by Sasha Souza
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Gift basket with movie and popcorn

Thousands of dollars worth of free services and stuff. Take notes y’all–we are making this dream wedding happen without tons of money. Maybe this is why I never won sweepstakes when I was younger… ENTER ALL THE RAFFLES!

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