What Couples Should Know about Wedding Shows

What Couples Should Know about Wedding Shows from a Vendor’s Perspective

Over the past35 years I have grown up attending every different type of wedding show there is. Actually, I attended my first wedding show when I was less than one year old; even to this day BobHawkins.com still exhibits at no less than six wedding shows a year.

Because I have seen every trick in the book, I am writing this article to let couples know what to expect at a wedding show. What I have to write may upset some vendors because I am revealing information that they don’t really want couples to know, but I believe that the information I am providing here will help couples make informed decisions about the most important event in their lives.

To start off, there are two main seasons for wedding shows: the month of January – for what is known as the Spring Wedding Shows, and mid-September to the first week of October – for what is known as the Fall Wedding Shows. Sometimes an occasional show will take place at another time. The reason for the timing of the January shows is simple: More couples get engaged during the Christmas Holiday Season than at any other time of year so that the shows actually fight with each other to get the prime spot of being the first show in the season. The Fall Season shows are a catch-all for couples who become engaged during the spring and summer or are planning an early wedding in the following year.

Types of Shows

There are a number of ways wedding shows can be categorized. They can be categorized according to ethnicity, the pricing of the exhibiting vendors, even the budget of the attending couples attending. Vendors will participate in a show that meets their market.

You may wonder how a vendor knows what market a wedding show attracts. It’s something of a science that I won’t go into in this article, but if you have a question about one of the shows you are looking to attend, drop me a line and I will help you decide whether the show is the right one for you.

The types of shows I will discuss in this article are the “area” and “regional” wedding shows.

Area Wedding Shows

First of all, an area wedding show is more common than a regional wedding show, as these shows focus on vendors located in or near a certain town or within a certain distance from where the wedding show is taking place. These shows usually take place in a banquet hall, or at a golf course. The cost to attend such shows can range from zero to about $10.00. I recommend that couples visit at least one of these shows to see what vendors are located in the neighbourhood of your reception. Vendors at such shows are likely to be familiar with your venue; also, they are unlikely to charge travelling fees.

Keep in mind that you will probably be asked to complete a registration card, the information of which will be shared with every vendor at the show. (Privacy concerns aside, this is not a bad idea, as it may allow vendors to contact you for a more personal proposal of what they can do for you. I have more to say on this subject later in this article.)

Regional Shows

Regional shows are much less frequent, but they are much bigger than an area wedding show. For example, a regional show in Toronto can draw more than 10,000 people in a weekend at which there could be twenty or more photographers and twenty or more Disc Jockey companies. Such shows can, therefore, be overwhelming, but the upside for attending a regional show is the chance to see many interesting ideas for your wedding or reception. Bear in mind that some vendors will probably increase their fees for their services when the distance is involved.

You should expect to pay between $15.00 and $35.00 per person for admission for the usually three-day show (Friday, Saturday, & Sunday).

Free is Not Always Free

Many vendors will have either a draw or a form to fill out in order to mail a copy of their magazine or wedding planner. All I can say to you is beware. Vendors pay a great deal of money to promote their services to you at these shows. One way they recoup their costs is to gather your information so that they can contact you later to sell their services. Make no mistake: There are many honest vendors that will keep your information private, call you once, maybe twice, and send you the occasional email message until your event date, or until you ask them not to contact you anymore.

Some vendors, though, will share the names they have gathered with other companies that are not exhibiting at the show, or to other parts of their company who will then contact you. Wedding Magazines and Wedding Guides are well known for doing so. You have to remember that these books are not cheap to produce, and are wholly funded by their advertisers. People advertise in these books for the list of names that they receive following a wedding show. In some cases, the Wedding Magazine or Guide can have well over 500 advertising vendors and that means your phone may start ringing off the hook and your inbox may go crazy if you fill out their form to receive a free book.

If you are at all concerned that the vendor is going to share your information with others, ask them what they plan to do with your information. For example, at BobHawkins.com, we collect names at a regional wedding show by means of a draw. Every couple who participates in the draw can expect one phone call and one email message from us. At an area wedding shows, we ask couples whether they would be interested in a free wedding information package. The package will include a no-obligation quote for our service. If they agree, we gather their information and send them a package. I personally guarantee that BobHawkins.com does not share any information that is gathered by our staff with any other vendor or person, and all information is kept confidential.

Helpful Hint 1

If you are going to complete ballots and forms at wedding shows, I recommend that you print off a sheet of labels that include your name, phone number, email address, wedding date, number of guests, and if you have chosen one, the venue of your event.

Trick or Treating for Big Kids

Every vendor at a wedding show will have some sort of literature that they want you to take home. Going from booth to booth is just like going door to door on Halloween. When you get home, you will dump your bags all over the kitchen table, and sort through all the garbage and keep the good stuff.

Helpful Hint 2

The amount of literature available can be overwhelming; therefore, you may wish to take a pen to mark the literature of the vendors you would be interested in talking to in the future.

Helpful Hint 3

Take some reusable shopping bags to a wedding show. Shows will usually provide you with a plastic shopping bag, and some vendors will also offer them, but the amount of literature and the number of magazines you collect will likely rip the handles on the bag and weigh down your arms. On the other hand, a reusable bag will be easier to carry and will withstand the weight of the literature. When I started doing shows twenty years ago, I joked that someone could make a bundle by leasing small shopping carts like the ones at the LCBO.

The Fashion Show

Most wedding shows have a fashion show as one element of the activity. At area shows there may be one or perhaps two, depending on the length of the entire event. At regional shows, there may be one or two a day. Fashion shows are a great way to see upcoming styles and trends in bride and bridesmaids dresses, but there is a little secret that brides sometimes forget. During the fashion show, the rest of the exhibit floor becomes nearly empty. In some cases, vendors take a small break, but are usually still around their booth; thus, you have a great opportunity to spend some additional one-on-one time with a vendor who is not busy with other prospects. Also, keep in mind that once a fashion show is finished, there will be a mad rush of traffic in the aisles, either with people heading for the exits or with people going to see one more vendor. This is the worst time to be in the aisles as vendors are busy passing out as many flyers as possible to people rushing by their booths. If you can wait 15 minutes at a regional show or 5 minutes at an area show, the traffic will clear out and you won’t have to worry about being pushed out of the way or not being able to speak to another vendor.

Helpful Hint 4

The larger the show, the earlier you need to save your seats. Give yourself fifteen minutes for an area show and 45 minutes for a regional show.

What time to arrive at a Wedding Show

The arrival time depends on the type of show. For an area show, look at arriving at least an hour and a half prior to the advertised finish time in order to give yourself enough time to visit each of the vendors without feeling rushed. Bear in mind as well that many vendors will start to pack up early. Vendors usually begin to pack up about 15 minutes prior to the advertised end time and try and get out of the building as fast as they can.

With a regional show, you need to give yourself about 3 hours to see the show in its entirety. Bear in mind that most vendors will start to shut down about an hour prior to the end of the show. For example, if a show runs until 9 PM, you should plan to get to the show no later than 5 PM to ensure that you get your money’s worth and that you get to see everything you want to see.


I have just scratched the surface of the things that you should expect when attending a wedding show. I hope I helped you to make an informed decision when it comes to attending one. Please feel free to submit any questions or comments about this article to Robert@BobHawkins.com.
By: Robert Hawkins