So you’re getting married and in the excitement you plan to attend a Wedding Show. Great idea, right? Well, yes, as long as you take a little time to prepare and make the most of the experience. I can’t tell you how many brides I’ve witnessed over the many years who walk the aisle’s of a wedding expo with the proverbial ‘deer in the headlights’ look. I mean, it really can be overwhelming! So don’t let that happen to you. Take to heart the following 4 keys to making your wedding show experience a Big Win, and keep it fun and productive at the same time.

Key #1: Do Your Homework Recon

Going in blind to a show with hundreds of wedding vendors is like trying to drink from a fire hyndrant. Where do you start? How do I find my way through rows and rows of vendors wanting my attention? Here are some suggestions:

  • Study the Expo/Show map before you attend the event. Get a good feel of how it’s laid out and know the important details.

  • Make a list of the vendors you are especially interested in and circle their booth number on the Expo/Show map.

  • Check out key vendor’s websites and reviews ‘before’ you attend the event. This will help you narrow down your list, and also help you know what questions to ask.


Key #2: Use Your Team to Build Your Team

Getting married at a destination other than your home town can be daunting, especially when it comes to ‘Who can I trust’. I always tell brides, “The very first vendor I will hire when my daughter gets married someday is a Wedding Planner.” No doubt! A good wedding planner will make everyone’s life better, and you’ll enjoy the journey. Once you find a vendor (like a wedding planner, photographer, officiant, or whatever) that you genuinely feel you can trust and has your best interest in mind, lean on that team member to help you find the rest of your needed team. Caring vendors like Amanda Buchanan (Simple Day) and Taylor & Samantha (Coastyle Weddings) will never guide you toward a team that they would not want for their best friend. I’m just picking on those two planners, but there are other great ones on the Outer Banks as well. If you’re choosing to not hire a Planner, you can still lean on photographers like Rich Coleman (Coleman Shots) and Neil & Lisa (Neil GT Photography), or hair stylists like Esther & Forest (Salty Hair Salon) and Alicia (Lovie’s Salon and Spa). Some are even like a onestop shop for ceremony designs, like the one that Tony, Mary, & I own together called “I Do OBX Chairs”. These are all top notch professionals who will help you find a great wedding Team that fits you.

Key #3: Keep Time on Your Side

There are very few things in life that are done well in a rush. Having a great Expo/Show experience is not one of them. Ha! So don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just bop into the event for a quick hour and be done. Give yourself all the time you can in order to meet, talk, eat, drink, watch, and have fun. If the event is from 9:00 – 2:00, get there when the doors open if at all possible. The vendors are fresh, the food hasn’t run out, and time will be on your side. Give yourself time to stand and observe how vendors interact with people. Have time to purposefully introduce yourself to other brides attending and find out what treasures they’ve found. In other words, take time to smell the roses (there will be plenty of those present).


Key #4: Well, Isn’t That Special

Ok, so this one is simple, but can sometimes get past people because it is ‘time sensitive’. Lots of vendors will be offering ‘Special’ rates and offers during the event. Key words….’during’. If you like what you see, take advantage of it. Just think, if you save $25 here, and 20% over there, and another 10% over here, pretty soon you’ve saved hundreds of dollars off the budget (so you can buy more wine!). Most likely there will be give-away drawings you can enter, so go for it. Don’t hire a vendor just because they have a ‘special’, but let this event element work for you if possible. Oh, and by the way, it never hurts to ask if they are offering a ‘special’ for the event, or because you are in the military, etc. Heck, they may make up a ‘special’ on the fly.

The Outer Banks is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the United States for good reasons. I’m so proud and honored to be a part of the scene here, and I’m hoping your Wedding Show experiences will be fun and productive, no matter if you attend one of ours here on the barrier islands, or somewhere in D.C., New York, or Pittsburgh. Make it a Win!



Jennifer Maher