23 Bridal Show Booth Tips (Learn from My Mistakes!)
I’m not going to lie, this is a lot of information. But, I either give 0% or 100%, so you’re getting 100% on this blog post. If this is your first bridal show, you must read this!
- Print too many handouts – Even if Vistaprint is having a huge sale, you don’t need 1000 handouts. You’ll make changes before the next show and the leftovers will go in the trash, plus many brides will trash your handout themselves. To avoid this, make it a large, non-standard size, colorful, heavy stock and full of your best imagery.
- Give away an engagement session – This is played out, my friends. Now everyone is giving away an e-session. Be creative or don’t do a giveaway at all. Or, proudly display that brides who book by X date receive an album upgrade or something like that.
- Have less than 3 people manning your booth – Be prepared to stand all day and not take a break. If you do, have at least two people there who can confidently answer any question just like you would, but hurry back – brides want to talk to the actual photographer. For best results, bring a past bride who will rave about you and give her a nice gift for helping you out!
- Skimp on wedding albums – I know sample albums are expensive, but guess what? They turn girls who walk by and stare at your booth into girls who step in and flip through images. And, the best part is, the more girls standing at your booth, the more the others want to see what’s up. It’s human nature.
- Spend too much time building the booth – Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be and don’t reinvent the wheel. Make time for rest & don’t get all sweaty setting up the morning of! Look cool as a cucumber. You’ve got this!
- Give away too much – Just because everyone else is offering “25% off all packages today only,” doesn’t mean you have to compete. Don’t look desperate! Plus, you’ll hate yourself next year when you’re shooting a wedding you booked at the show for 1/2 price and you later got 3 inquiries for the same date.
- Wear something unprofessional or revealing – Maybe long shorts weren’t the best choice for my first show, but it was hot and they were dressy shorts. Keep the girls covered, the pants loose and wear a color that doesn’t show sweat.
- Bring Your Own Furniture – Unless it’s easy to move (which mine wasn’t), you have a truck and you don’t mind getting it scratched, don’t bring it. For my second show, I discovered that the rental company who provided all of the pipe and drape also rented chairs, sofas and tables and placed them in your booth for you. It was well worth the rental fees!
- Arrive really early – Drop off areas back up, your booth is in the wrong place, you forgot something… Arrive at least two hours early and hustle.
- Mingle with vendors – This is why you want extra time. Freshen up your makeup, change and walk around. Introduce yourself to vendors, hand out business cards and offer to help others who are struggling. Here’s a secret: You’ll book weddings from vendor relationships too, so make yourself known!
- Check out the location first – Don’t say yes to a show until you’ve been to one yourself. Note the location, type of bride that attends, how many vendors in your category, what the space looks like, etc. You’re spending hundreds, if not thousands on this one day of advertising. Don’t waste it.
- Ask the promoter for demographics – How many brides signed up for the show last year? How many brides (not people) actually attended? How much did they pay per ticket (free brings a different clientele than paid)?
- Get phone and email – If you’re having brides handwrite their info, you’re likely to get some email addresses you can’t read (and thus, can’t contact). Get a phone number too.
- Be prepared to book on the spot – It’s rare, but a bride might love you so much she wants to book on the spot. Have blank contracts, a hot spot internet connection, a way to collect payments and most importantly, your calendar!
- Practice your pitch – Have someone ask you (in person) these questions and memorize your answers. Make sure everyone manning your booth knows the answers too! If you’re talking to a bride and she has to wait to speak with you, she’s likely to move on to the next booth before you’re done.
- Get the best location – Go big or go home. Get a corner booth, a double booth, or a booth close to the front. If you don’t, you’ll get lost in a sea of vendors. Once the floor map comes out, don’t be afraid to ask for a switch. You don’t want to be too close to loud contests, DJs, other photographers or booths that are giving away tons of free food. Brides will be distracted, can’t hear you, comparing you to the person right next to you or blocked by the free sample line.
- Bring a trash can – Even if you’re not giving out any samples, be prepared for guests to leave their cups, plates and wrappers on your tables. Yep. It’s rude, but it happens. You need to have a way to quickly discard trash without walking 20 feet.
- Eat a big breakfast – You won’t have time to break for lunch or a snack, and if you do, you’ll miss a bride as soon as you walk away. Don’t eat at your booth. It appears tacky. I recommend having an omelet with toast and coffee to keep you full for hours and then scarfing down a meal replacement bar if you have downtime.
- Make things easy to set up and break down – After a long day, you don’t want to be the last one to leave the building. Plan your set up for the break down. Use storage totes and a folding cart like this.
- Appear well-groomed – Beyond your booth, You. Are. Your. Brand. Smell clean, but not overpowering. Get your hair trimmed/cut. Wear neutral makeup. Whiten your teeth. Pop mints all day.
- Give 100% – You’re going to be tired. Your mouth will get dry from talking. Your feet will hurt. Keep going! You put a lot of time and money into this. Keep smiling!
- Follow up right away – Brides leave the show overwhelmed – wouldn’t you? Follow up that night with a personalized email that includes a photo of you at your booth. Don’t send out a mass email. It might take you until 2am, but customize each email from a template that includes the bride’s name, wedding date, venue and a fact about the couple. Make sure that you are taking these notes during the show, because you won’t remember the brides either!
- Wear comfortable shoes – I can’t stress this enough. You’re most likely standing on concrete or thin carpet for 5 hours straight. If you’re used to sitting at your desk all day, this is going to be uncomfortable. If you insist on wearing heels, at least bring a flat option for breakdown time (think TOMS or Sam Edelman).
I know, who needs more emails, right? But if you don’t want to check back for Part 3 of the Bridal Show Mini Series, give me your email address and I’ll send it your way.