April 21, 2015 by Kim Foster
When I first contemplated getting into the wedding decorating industry ten years ago, I remember attending a few wedding shows in our surrounding area. I wanted to get a pulse on what the styles & trends were, and where they were heading. However, what ended up being most apparent to me was how the vendors interacted with the engaged couples: it was all about pulling the couples into their booth with a very strong sell approach. Some couples even looked like they were being “hustled.”
As I looked into the faces of some very overwhelmed couples, I thought to myself, “this isn’t how they should feel at such an exciting time in their lives.” I made a conscious decision that if I ever had the opportunity to put on an event such as a bridal/wedding show, our sole focus would be to offer the attendees an incredible experience. Thus was born the template for the Stratford Wedding Show, and most recently, the Beyond Beautiful Bridal Show.
Hand Select Integrity-driven Vendors to Participate
We have many inquiries each year from vendors wanting to participate, and we carefully select each entry and category. We focus on vendors directly related to the wedding industry, although some could be considered indirectly related, so we place a smaller cap on those categories. We want to have a great selection of vendors together under one roof so it is worth your time to come and spend an afternoon with us.
Strong Focus on Offering an Experience
I wanted to create an atmosphere in which couples wanted to stay and enjoy themselves for hours. To do so, I needed our vendors’ assistance to embrace this concept and offer more of an experience. As a result, we have amazing caterers that are willing to provide food tastings, spas willing to show up-do’s and make-up trials, wineries sharing wine samples, decorators showing total room transformations, photo booth fun, etc…
Clients Approach, Soft Sell
We did not want that awkward feeling for the couple when vendors are trying to draw the client into their booth to sell what they have to offer. We also certainly did not want the couple to feel hustled, like what I have seen and heard about from other shows. Instead, we really embraced the passport style approach, where the couple collects the signature from each vendor participating in the show, ensuring that no vendor is missed, but more importantly, that the couple approaches the vendor. This allows the vendor a couple of minutes to see if the couple knows about what services he or she has to offer, and if the vendor service is of interest to the couple. If the couple already has that category taken care of, they are able to say, “thank you we have that service taken care of,” and move on. No feeling of being trapped with a lengthy sales pitch!
We Don’t Let Vendor Categories Get Saturated
There are caps on all service and product categories as we want to bring you great value by hand-selecting reputable, integrity-driven vendors. The vendors make a small investment to participate in the show, so we believe it is important to have a fair playing field as well.
Offer a Visual Experience
We want the day to be an interactive experience with full room transformations to help those who have difficulty envisioning their space, and to inspire everyone attending the show. Out of respect for the designers (including ourselves), we have a very limited number of reliable, dedicated decorators who invest considerable time to create an incredible atmosphere.
A Fashion Show or Not???
I think from the start I wanted to avoid having a fashion show, I have participated in many shows over our 10 years in business, and really wanted to do something completely different from the rest. We wanted it to be more interactive, so we invite bridal and gown shops to bring their gowns, and brides can try them on. It is exciting that there are many, many gowns & dresses sold at every show we facilitate.
Client Surveys are Part of our Passport
We gladly listen to the feedback you provide, so that we can continue to develop and improve our future shows. We want to know what is working and what is not, and look forward to shaping the show to suit you, the client.
Our Wedding Show Is About You!
My focus was to create an atmosphere of relaxation and stress-free wedding planning, and to leave you with a feeling of productive time well spent (and perhaps even having been a little bit pampered)! We want you to leave saying, “Wow! That was great! I’m so glad I came today!” We are there for YOU through this experience!
Can’t wait for the next one!!!