Hi, there – we are Becky and Richy – a Central Florida engaged couple planning our wedding. We’re still planning our dream wedding, slowly and steadily checking off things from our list, but there was one big thing we wanted to make sure to do during the process before we got too far. That one thing was attending a wedding show!
If you’ve been following along with our wedding planning process, you already know that we’ve booked our amazing wedding venue, The Howey Mansion! Read all about our process of picking a venue and what makes ours the best (in our opinion).
How did you decide which wedding show to attend?
Becky: There are probably a billion shows that as an engaged couple can go to in this area. We started by looking at the Central Florida wedding show list here on Wedding Venue Map. In my experience, the Florida Wedding Expo (pictured at the beginning of the article), in my opinion, is the biggest in the Central Florida area with typically a really good amount of vendors.
Having been to one pre-covid, I knew that this specific show seemed to be one of the best shows for just having fun. If you’re going to go to a wedding show, having fun while meeting as many wedding professionals as possible is definitely the key to a successful time!
Wedding Venue Map Tip: Some wedding shows are big and full of over 100 booths like this expo. But, if that feels overwhelming, make sure to check out the intimate shows and venue showcases where it is a bit more relaxed with less attendees.
Richy: Throughout the wedding process, we knew we both wanted to go to some wedding shows and see what all they had to offer. That and we’re both foodies and can’t pass on some snacks!! Plus, what a good way to get couples to go on a date day while snacking on some yummy appetizers/cake and check some vendors off their list.
What you were most excited about attending a wedding show?
Becky: Personally, I was most excited for a day, or at least half a day, along with my fiancé where all we did was talk about our wedding and plan while getting to have some fun doing it. Sometimes setting aside time for wedding planning isn’t easy and it’s also very easy to get distracted even when you do, this is where wedding shows can help!
I also won’t lie… I was extremely excited about the cake and catering samples I knew would be at the show along with the giveaways or specials that vendors typically offer at wedding shows.
Richy: All the food they were gonna have!! I mean we weren’t in the market for any food vendors but can anyone pass on some meatballs and mac n’ cheese?
Did you go looking for specific vendors or more for inspiration?
Becky: On the way to the show, we discussed in the car what vendors and items we were still in need of for the wedding day. From there we talked about which ones we really wanted to focus on keeping an eye out for that day. Our main ones were photographers, that maybe we hadn’t seen while researching before, officiants, florists, and potential vendors that provided invitations.
Wedding Venue Map Tip: Have that conversation BEFORE you get there so you attend with a plan in mind!
I’m not sure we really had specific inspiration we were looking for but definitely were on the hunt to book some vendors and check some things off of our to-do list.
Richy: On our 30-minute drive listening to the little playlist we made (a little hype chill mix we always listen to), I was like “BABE…. so what is our game plan. Let’s make a list of all the vendors we need to see and hunt these little puppies down.” Our vendor list contained: florist, photographer, cake, and invitations. Those were our main mission, that, and to eat as much food as we can!
Inspiration. Not really I think me and Becky already have our vision. We were just looking for some foot soldiers and generals to make our vision come to life.
How important was seeing the fashion show to each of you?
Becky: The fashion show wasn’t at the top of my list for the wedding show and when we arrived, I didn’t have much intention of us attending the fashion show portion. However, as the day went on and we walked around seeing the beautiful wedding gowns, I decided I might want to go.
By the time we felt we had been through the entire exhibition space and searched for all of the things that we came for, we went to go check the time of the fashion show and realized we missed our time slot for it. Thankfully, it wasn’t a huge letdown since we didn’t come for the fashion show and we were able to leave a little bit earlier than planned to go spend some time together not wedding planning!
Wedding Venue Map Tip: If seeing the fashion show is important to you, head over about 15 minutes before teh show starts to get a seat!
Richy: To me, not really. The fashion show was not the deciding factor of going or not. Maybe because I’m just a guy and the dress part was more for the girls. Although made me happy seeing my wife-to-be get all big eyes looking at all the pretty dresses and imagining herself walking down the aisle in one of those dresses. So maybe towards the end of the event, I wanted to see the show and share that moment with my fiancé and let her be that 10-year-old girl imagining her dream dress.
What surprised you the most at the show?
Becky: There wasn’t much that surprised me at the show, aside from there being so few florists and officiants to talk to. Those were the things we had set out to find or at the very least talk to a few of those vendors.
Richy: Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised but due to COVID, not as many vendors were at the show this year. We kinda imagined seeing a lot more of the vendors from our checklist to help us get some peace of mind and check some of those boxes. But with the vendors that they had, they didn’t meet the criteria we were looking for. As far as surprises, Becky loved the DJ people that walked in with light suits on stilts. Spoiler alert, if you’re looking for something exciting and y’all don’t have a DJ, check them out for your wedding.
Wedding Venue Map Tip: Richy is talking about the team at Al Dee Productions!
What was one of the benefits of going to the show?
Becky: During wedding planning, you spend a ton of time researching vendors for whatever category you’re tackling next. But what you don’t realize is that in some areas, that list can be endless. We’ve spent LITERALLY hours digging through just ONE type of vendor on every site imaginable, including Facebook groups and Instagram, just to see who we could find.
That’s why it’s important to ask the wedding professionals around you that you might have already talked with or booked (especially the venue) for the vendors that they love, trust, and think would fit with your vision of the perfect wedding day. However, sometimes you’re picky (like us) and want everything to fit in the exact budget you have set and this is where you fall into the deep dive.
Okay, rant over. That being said, we thought we had seen every possible photographer we could find after combing through SO MANY but to our surprise, we met one or two at the show that we had never even come across in all of our searching.
Richy: As for intense research tactics, our first line of defense was good old Instagram. Like if you’re reading this now, how many times do y’all use Yellow Pages or Google reviews? No, most of our generation is an Instagram first stream. If they have a decent following and good photos they’re pretty much verified.
All the vendors we met and spoke to, we had not seen before. They were all cool and friendly but a key factor for us was the price. They were giving discounts for the show but it was still more than our price range.
What do you wish there had been more of, or any of, at the show?
Becky: I think out of everything, I wish there had been more rental vendors may be to find some more table decor inspiration or florists for that reason to be able to physically see it instead of spending hours on Pinterest. Even though we weren’t looking for it, after we left I did feel a bit like that was something we were missing from our experience.
Along with inspiration, we were disappointed by how few photographers were in attendance that fit our desired budget, even with special show discounts. We did take into consideration though that it does cost vendors to be there, so those wedding professionals who fit within lower budgets might not be in attendance at every show or they might not have the budget to come to bigger shows that cost more.
Wedding Venue Map Tip: Sometimes, if you’re not finding exactly what you’re looking for within a specific budget, it might be time to re-evalutate if your budget is realistic or not to match your expectations.
Richy: Flora Flora Flora. Hahaha funny to think out of all places, a wedding show, there would have been more floral vendors there. Unfortunately, there was almost none. I hate to keep blaming a certain individual called COVID but maybe that was why not so many vendors attended. We were really bummed that we couldn’t knock out some checkmarks. But hey, we had a good time and talked about a game plan to reach out to the vendors that we couldn’t find.
Do you plan to attend other wedding shows?
Becky: This one is a tough question. While I felt like we had a really fun time and got to spend some good quality time with just the two of us, I’m not sure it would be the most productive to attend another wedding show.
However, after seeing all the couples with some, or all, of the members of their wedding party or parents, I think it could be really fun to attend another wedding show to get some of our wedding party and parents more involved in this way. Or even going to a different show to be able to meet vendors who might never attend the show we did go to.
Wedding Venue Map Tip: Make sure to check out different types of shows like smaller venue showcases – they may include more vendors that are hard to find!
Richy: As of now, nothing planned. For sure the shows do have some of the top-tier vendor’s hands down. We saw some quality photographers that we both were like, okkkk. Super nice, not exactly the style we had been searching for but we were prepared to jump ship and change it up. Unfortunately, like most vendors that attended they were a bit pricey for our budget.
What tips would you share with other engaged couples planning to go to a wedding show!
Becky: Hmm, tips can be a hard one because everyone is different. I would say it’s just a fun time, so the first tip would be to bring whoever makes you happy. I’d definitely recommend bringing your fiancé, of course, but then feel free to add anyone else! While it is something that should be fun, there’s also a reason that vendors come to the show (and you!) it’s to make connections. Don’t forget to make a game plan and come ready to talk to vendors you haven’t booked yet that you’re still on the hunt for.
A tip for all the ladies that I would add is to bring a purse, bag, or outfit with great pockets that you can easily put your phone away or get it out, to keep a pen handy, store important giveaway tickets, and any information that you don’t want to get lost in the big show bag!
Richy: Guys please please please go with your ladies! Saw too many brides with their friends, “Bridal Squad” or parents. Guys, the wedding is going to be one of the most expensive investments we’re going to make in our adult lives.
That being said, do y’all not want to be part of the decision-making? If you didn’t like that cake flavor or that DJ didn’t have the attitude or charisma you wanted at your wedding, you need to be a part of those decisions because it’s meant to be your day as a couple together. But point that finger back at you first if decisions are made that you later don’t like because you decided not to be a part of the process with your lady.
It is a fun experience, a frugal date, a chance to spend with your fiancé and get some good food. Enjoy some good music and hopefully, most importantly, decide on some vendors. Happy life happy wife, right guys? Let’s start by going to the shows and being part of the decision-making of OUR weddings.
After reading about our experience, will you be attending a wedding show? If you do, make sure to go in with a game plan, even if it’s just to have a fun day with no expectations.
We’re so excited to share the next experience of our wedding planning journey with you soon, be sure to keep an eye out for the next blog about booking our DJ!
Until next time,
Becky & Richy