How To Prepare For A Wedding Show

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It's that time of year...When the wedding shows start soliciting for you to pay for the privilege of exhibiting at their show.

If you've never done a wedding show before, there are a few things that you should know, and investigate before forking over the booth fee.

-- How many brides come to this show? Not how many people attended, how many BRIDES are estimated to attend. A lot of times show organizers will inflate their numbers to try to persuade people to sign up. If 3000 people come to the show, but only 500 of those are brides, you need to decide whether it's worth the cost, because some of those booths are EXPENSIVE...

-- Are you expected to provide anything? Some shows require that you hand out samples, some require that you give out a doorprize or two. You need to add the cost and time to make and package the samples up into the "is it worth it or not" figuring that you'll do.

--Do you need a food handlers license or inspection licenses if you're going to hand out food? Some places require that you have a valid business license, insurance, and a current inspection if you're giving out food.

-- How many other cake vendors (or vendors in your category) will be there? If there will be ten other cake decorators, that needs to go into your calculations. You'll need to have better samples, better display cakes, a better booth design...Pretty much better everything, to cut through the noise and get to the brides.

-- How many different categories of vendors will be there? You want to have a good variety of people there so that brides spend more time looking around. If there are 20 photographers, 10 DJs, 5 Cake decorators and 5 florists, people will be in and out pretty fast because there's less variety. If you have those categories AND travel agents, caterers, gowns, realtors, jewelry, beauty products, etc etc, people tend to stay longer. Which means that they'll be more likely to find you.

-- Finally, call a few people who were at the show the previous year and ask them how it went. Was it organized well? Did the number of brides who came through match up to the organizer's claims? Was the facility clean and well-lit? These things matter.

Once you decide to do the show, get these things ready:

-- Booth decorations, including a banner with your business name, display cakes, tablecloths, a carpet with a carpet pad or a mat to stand on, brochures, business cards, cards for each display cake with prices and serving count for that cake, display stands, business card holders, email list signup sheets, albums with cake photos or a computer to play a slideshow (if your booth has electricity), tall garbage can and extra garbage bags (they never have enough garbage cans), duct tape, scissors, extra pens and paper.

-- If you're bringing samples, put them in little 2 ounce plastic cups with lids, and give them out with plastic forks. You'll also need napkins, trays to put the samples on, boxes for the extras, and an extra person to help hand them out. You should NOT try to do a wedding show with samples by yourself.

-- Get some type of rolling cart to help you move everything to and from the booth for setup. Most facilities will have carts available, but everyone there will be competing for them. Bring your own and you won't have to worry about that.

At the show, do this:

-- TALK TO THE OTHER VENDORS. The point of most wedding shows is the networking. Everyone's in a good mood because they've been surrounded by excited brides all day. Make sure that you introduce yourself to any vendors you haven't met, and say hi to the ones you do. Most shows have a fashion show or something that draws brides away from the vendors for a while, so when that happens, make the rounds. Get business cards and make notes about the people you talked to so that you remember their names and job position.

-- Don't sit, stand up, and put that cell phone away. Enough said.

-- If you're a person who hates to talk to people, get over it and pretend that you're an extrovert who loves chatting with strangers for the four hours it takes. You can go home and curl up in the fetal position after the show is over.

--Talk to brides and be upbeat, ask when their wedding date is, ask them if they'd like to sign up for your email list to get a free tasting appointment or free delivery with their wedding cake, or whatever you have to do to get them to opt in to your list. Those are the brides who are interested, and they're the first ones to follow up with later.

-- Don't eat or drink at your booth unless you're sneaking in bites under the table.

-- Don't necessarily try to sign people up for tasting appointments at the show. This is the time to get brides to see who you are and to sign up for your list, not for appointments. You'll want to do some more screening before scheduling people.

-- Smile!

Next: How to Follow Up After The Show

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and

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