Why You May Not Want to Attend Bridal Shows

I have gone to two bridal shows in my life, both very different. The first was at a huge hotel in downtown Philadelphia and I agreed to go with a friend who was getting married that summer. We paid about $15 each to get in the door and were met with a huge line going up an enormous escalator to what we assumed could only be bridal heaven. Once we reached the top we were ushered into a room that I swear was half the size of a football field and was packed wall to wall with vendors. At each booth they asked the same questions. We wrote down our contact info so many times to win the honeymoon to Hawaii, or a free engagement photo session, or even a free tray of crab puffs – whatever they were giving away. We sipped tiny samples of wine and ate halved hors d’oeurves. At the end, we saw a bridal fashion show. I went home feeling full, exhausted, overwhelmed and glad that I was not getting married. I figured this was all part of the cookie-cutter bride experience, something I did not want a part of, and wrote off the day as a life experience. I thought that I’d never attend another bridal expo.

Then four years later, almost to the month, I was dragging my fiancée to a wedding show that appealed to the offbeat bride and I couldn’t wait! It was called the Lovesick Expo (you can read another take on it here), and it was held at a local concert venue, World Café Live. A sorority sister of mine who was also not a run of the mill Mrs. had her wedding there, so I was hopeful for unique things. We arrived, we were processed, and in we went. There were no escalators to heaven. As we entered we first saw booths for a photographer. Then another photographer. Then two male event planners who weren’t gay. Then another photographer. Then a medspa center (read: laser hair removal). Then another photographer.

Ok, all of the photographers were great. Pretty pictures, taken artistically, making everyone look effortless and fantastic. And as luck would have it, we were in the market for one. But 11? Literally, 11. Eleven booths of photographers at a wedding show where there were maybe 36 vendors total – it seemed like a bit much to me. We ventured further in and saw one photographer offering boudoir photos in a burlesque style. Ok, at least that’s different. Then we saw some girls who plan weddings and make cute bow ties. We even saw a jeweler who makes your rings custom. But that was it. One venue, two floors, and a million photographers. And the kicker of it is, I saw half of them on their websites anyway. 

We stayed for a demonstration of a burlesque dancer review (great for bachelorette parties, we’re told) and another for a dance academy that could teach you how to twirl for your day. We even toyed with the idea of participating in the raffles, but when we saw that tickets were a little steep and you needed 3 or so to enter for anything good, we booked it out of there. On the ride home I compared the two experiences and the only difference between the two, other than the scale, was that I left more disappointed from the second than I did the first because even in its offbeat-ness, it was still pretty cookie-cutter. And it was all information I could find easily! 

What I would suggest to you is this: Go to wedding shows if you have no clue about weddings – if you have never attended one, if you have never daydreamed about your own, if you have never wanted to plan a wedding but can’t afford a coordinator then go. And be prepared to be overwhelmed! 

However, since you’re reading this, chances are that you know how to use that fancy interweb. Google things and do the legwork yourself! And ask friends. I’ve found 3 great photographers (none of which were at any of those shows) with reasonable prices from friends who recently got married whose photos I admired on Facebook. (Yes, I’m talking about your cute engagement photos, Liz!) Also, be prepared to jack everything you can possibly estimate in price by at least 20% – this crap is expensive. Finally, do whatever you want, whether someone suggested it and you loved the idea, you dreamed it up on your own, or you’re copying it from Martha Stewart Weddings.com. This is your day. Save that $15 for a few cocktails – at least they’re worth the headache. 🙂

Thanks for reading. – A



January 29, 2011. Tags: , . 2010.


  1. Sarah replied:

    You are totally right. I never went to bridal shows, but I know two people who did and they were both disappointed. It is like the world makes you feel like you HAVE to go to a bridal show. I mean, you are going to be a bride, right?

    Well, your wedding is going to be fanfreakintastic because that is exactly what you are (and this blog, too).

  2. Liz replied:

    Thanks for the shout out on the engagement photos! We just got married this weekend and wait until you see the wedding photos! BTW, the photogs are also alumni of our alma mater.

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