Tuesday Top Ten ~ Tips for Exhibiting at a Wedding Fair and a recap of the Designer Vintage Bridal Show!

Many of you may have seen me tweet furiously 3 weekends ago bits and pieces from the Designer Vintage Bridal Show as part of the “Meet the Bloggers” effort by myself, Kat from Rockn’Roll Bride, Amma from Beyond Beyond, Annabel from Love My Dress and Kelly from Boho Weddings Blog. It was an absolute thrill to be asked to come along and have a stand so brides could meet us, ask questions and generally chat weddings. Here are a few photos of us tweeting from the sidelines of the gorgeous fashion shows scheduled throughout the day. I loved how each show focused on a different era so that people were encouraged to stay throughout the day and could learn in more detail the differences in styling, makeup and clothes for each vintage era represented. My favourite had to be 70s with the beautiful flowing dresses.

The event had such an incredible warm feeling to it and was expertly curated to include some of the best vintage wedding people around.  I found myself not only getting excited for each and every bride I met because I could remember what it was like at the start of our planning, but also I was just loving the weekend in general because it was a chance to meet loads of new talented people.

Across the way from me was the lovely Ann of Ann Kathrin Koch Photography with her gorgeous stand and many fabulous cameras, trinkets, snacks and snippets. Like me, she brought her other half for support and entertainment and it was Marco who inspired me to do this post.

Having never been to a wedding event as an exhibitor, I of course had no idea what I was doing. I had also only been back from our honeymoon for two weeks and felt a bit overwhelmed with the decisions involved in having a super duper stand at a show. What I did have was a load of wedding decoration leftovers from our big day which pretty much saved me a lot of time and stress. What I didn’t have was a clue about how to go about exhibiting myself. Weirdly, being a designer and working in advertising, I thought it would be no problem, yet once again, I have found I have a lot to learn about the industry 🙂

So this post is two fold. It is first showing you lovely photos by Emma Case of the event in general and all the great designs by loads of lovely vendors, and second offering 10 tips from myself and marketing extraordinaire Marco of 652 South who has had 15+ years of experience in event marketing and design. I pretty much quizzed him all day in between joking with Ann about pretty much everything. You will also of course see bits and pieces from all the amazing exhibitors at the Designer Vintage Bridal Show, which was an absolute honour to be a part of.

Marco and OMG’s top tips for exhibiting at an event.

1. Have a clear vision of why you are attending
Being a blogger and not having anything to “sell” made it difficult for me to have a focus. My clear vision was “get excited about weddings and chat to loads of lovely people.” This was of course achieved so I was pretty pleased however perhaps if I had sat down and thought about additional outcomes such as collecting details for a mailing list, having a suggestion box for readers to leave comments etc, I would have been even more pleased. My goal, however, was to have fun which was accomplished with loads of gold stars and all that jazz.

2. Decide upon your key message and align with it throughout
So, again, my key message was probably something like “OMG Hi! I’m a wedding blogger, nice to meet you, let’s chat weddings.” I had a big red sign that had my logo on it, but what I didn’t have is anything that said “wedding blog” on it. Therefor, as much as I would have liked for everyone to have heard of little ol’ me, those who didn’t know about OMG, still had no idea what it was after 5 seconds of looking at my stand. For some exhibitors, this is easy, ie. cake vendors will have cake, and so on, but make it really obvious to people what you’re selling / what you do. A great example is Ann Kathrin Koch Photography –  her key message was that she was a photographer and so her stand had her logo large, clear and in view, and her decor was made up of loads of different lovely looking cameras and framed photos. Therefor anyone who came around the corner would know immediately her specialty and who she was. Again, this may sound pretty obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me. I had candlesticks, paper flowers, wedding magazines and bright red cupcakes. But nothing that said “wedding blogger.”

My stand…

Ann’s stand…

3. Wear comfortable shoes and wear layers!
This may sound silly, but you never know what the venue is going to be like temperature wise, and you can pretty much guarantee you will be on your feet all day, so dress appropriately. I was wearing flats and my feet were a tad sore at the end of the day. If you’re sitting down looking miserable because your fabulous heels have given you blisters in the first 45 minutes, people are going to be less likely to chat with you. Similarly if you’re cold and standing with your arms crossed, you’re going to look a lot less approachable too. On the flip side, if you wear friendly clothes (cue massive pom pom fascinator) people are more likely to come and say hi.

4. Focus on customers rather than competitors
This was quiet easy for me as bloggers don’t necessarily have customers and my lovely “competition” was one of the main reasons I had been asked to come in the first place. But of course, this is good to keep in mind if you’re feeling competitive with someone who crosses over into your target market. My experience in the wedding industry here in the UK is that people are always referring customers to others so play nice.

5. Bring your own water and drink it
The best favour, hands down, went my neighbour Ann as she had her own stash of branded water to give away to brides and their entourages. Chatting to people can make you very thirsty!

6. Stay open until the bell
Everyone feels a bit anxious towards to the end of the day, especially if there are only a few people left, however it’s always best to refrain from packing your stand away until the doors have closed.

7. Measure you’re space and lay it out at home before you go
I attempted to do this on my bedroom floor prior to the event, however floors don’t really look like tables and I didn’t exactly measure out my space properly. I thought I could wing it and as a lot of my decorations were modular, they could really go anywhere. Had I measured the space out properly, I probably could have taken about half as much as I ended up carrying. The first day my table looked like my entire wedding threw up all over it, and only when I took away a few of the topiary balls and flowers on the second morning, did I feel like it could actually breath a bit.

8. Spend time designing your stand and make notes of events you have been to previously
There were some really, truly incredible stands at the Designer Vintage Bridal Show this year and one thing I found is that all my favourites looked like I wanted to live in them. So take Emma Case‘s stand for example – it looked like a really cool, funky little snippet of her household with loads of great photos and I immediately got an idea of her personality and style. It made me want to go hang out at her house because it looked like what I imagined her home to be like.

Similarly, Ava Event Styling‘s stands all looked like a little bit of magic with their beautiful floral table and super cute furniture that framed their yellow themed dessert table perfectly.

Lucy Ledger‘s stand was so totally on brand all the way through and while it had a lot to look at and engage with, everything matched without matching too much and overall it just felt like it was a collections of beautiful things that you wanted to look through.

What I learned from this is creating a stand at an exhibition is not necessarily about just showing your product, but communicating your brand as an experience, in a 3D space, and as a personality. Annabel of Love My Dress‘s stand did this perfectly as it looked like a little nook in a vintage wedding blogger’s home. I could just imagine her sitting next to the beautiful vintage dresses, cupcakes and vogue magazines blogging away. It created an image that was believable and beautiful. It was true to her brand and communicated the personality of her lovely blog perfectly through vintage props, clothes and furniture.

9. Have fun and chat to your neighbours
As I have mentioned a few times already, the show for me was all about meeting people and having a lovely time while getting the chance to document and share the weekend with my readers. One of the best parts of the show was meeting such great wedding people and being able to sit back once the event closed and have a good chat. Don’t forget to take a few moments and go around the show to meet the other exhibitors.

10. Find the right show for you
With so many shows, fairs and events happening and the amount of work I have learned goes into preparing for each one, make sure you choose the right shows for your brand and target audience. It’s not just the event organiser’s job to bring customers to you, but its also about deciding which events will compliment your business and bring you the customers you want.

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