5 ways wedding expos are like zoos

Guest post by dragonlover

Offbeat Mama just ran a post about how similar zookeepers and parents really are, but how about how similar zoos are to wedding expos?

kangaroos are scared of white

I've only attended a few wedding showcases so far (there are a few more on my calendar, if I get to them) but I feel like I've already learned a few valuable lessons — most notably that wedding showcases are like zoos.

You often are expected to pay a small fee as a ticket to get in, then head into this large area with people who are milling about, staring, gawking, excitedly whispering and chatting. Only they're talking about weddings and wedding planning, not animals. Although, some might argue that a bride, her groom, or the actual vendors can act like animals. In fact, for my analogy seeing vendors as animals work best.

Here are five ways that wedding showcases are just like a zoo…

1. There is a reason the animals at zoos are in cages
This is so there is a safe boundary between people and the animals. A safe, respectable distance that keeps the “animals” away from you. Hopefully, it prevents the animals from reaching out, trying to touch you, grabbing your arm, wrist or shoulder and “throwing” something at you. Unfortunately, at wedding shows, there is no one to prevent sales people from doing this to you.

2. Many visitors will be excited, coo, giggle, or otherwise interact with the animals
Sales people think that everyone wants to talk to them and see them. They will grab you, try to lure you in and many brides play back into this as the sales person pretends to fawn over an engagement ring or ask how you met your partner. The bride-to-be giggles, laughs, blushes over a joke. No. Please, spare me.

3. They will fling things at you. Be prepared.
When you are offered a bag at the doorway, take it. It means you are going to need it for the number of booklets, pamplets, print outs, postcards, price lists and other assorted items the vendors/animals will be giving you. If you want to be eco-friendly, go elsewhere. I will admit I've gotten so many ridiculously huge bridal books that the only possible use I can think of for them is to eventually cut out pictures to use as paper dolls for a future child, niece, or friend's daughter.

4. A word on souvenirs
Souvenirs are items you don't need. Do you really want to buy more tupperware at a wedding showcase? What about that Pampered Chef gear, or do you really want a photo booth? Remember your budget and stick to it. Don't sign up for a discount or possible consultation about a service or item you never ever even dreamed of for your wedding just because the company is at the wedding show. Stick to your guns.

5. Don't attend too many
It's a creativity zapper. I will be attending a few more, mostly because DJs or other entertainment groups I like will be there. But I will maintain this tunnel vision and achieve my goal. Strategizing, not zoo gawking.

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Comments on 5 ways wedding expos are like zoos

  1. The first wedding show I went to was a nightmare — so loud, so many fliers, and so overwhelming. For my second one I learned… I had a a plan going in so we knew what we were looking for, what to avoid, and questions to ask exhibitors. I also learned to actually look at the handouts fliers after receiving them so I could return or recycle them there instead of carting home a ton of paper.

  2. Brilliant article and so true.

    As a wedding photographer I don’t attend as an exhibitor any more. You see the fear in Bride & Grooms eyes as they see a room full of uncaged animals ready to pounce on them.

  3. Well, I started typing a reply to this, but it ended up being so long I decided to go stick it in a journal entry instead.

    Suffice to say: I agree with every point brought up here. I went to a bridal expo back in January, and I think it has been the worst mistake I have made in the entire wedding planning process. I AM STILL getting emails and PHONE CALLS all hours of the day from vendors who I NEVER talked to!

    We already had a venue, caterer, and photographer booked, so I didn’t visit ANY of those booths, and yet I have received calls from these vendors saying “Hi Samantha, we talked at the bridal show, and I just wanted to see if you were still looking for a venue/caterer/photographer!” I am totally blunt with them. I just say “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we talked at all, because my venue/caterer/photographer has been booked since November. How did you get my contact information?”

    I understand using sales tactics and all… but do NOT call me on my personal cell phone and try to lie to me or make something up to make a sale.

    (Sorry, this still ended up sort of long – I could go on and on about how big of a mistake going to the expo was).

    • Speaking as a makeup artist who has exhibited at shows before, AND as a past (2007) bride who is still ON a few contact lists courtesy of the show I attended with my partner, I have to say that the “lead list” you get as an exhibitor is **the WORST thing you can possibly use for finding clients** BUT every expo will use that registered bride list as a carrot for exhibitors.

      Personally, I throw it away and collect contact info from visitors to my table. (I’d rather get 50 interested leads at a show than 500 uninterested ones and, hello, unsolicited commercial email = breaking the law?!?)

      So, yes, if you go to a show, be prepared to be asked to register with your information, and then you can expect that every vendor at the show will then receive that information, and probably add you to their lists if they have them. You might have better luck buying tickets at the door and accidentally writing down the wrong phone number or email… oops, I didn’t say that aloud, did I? 😀

      • Could you elaborate on unsolicited commercial e-mails involving breaking the law? Like Samantha, I’ve gotten literally hounded and scammed from vendors (a well known *ahem* “bridal network” has quite a lengthy history of complaints onlines from buying/selling info and lying to brides!) through both text, phone call, and e-mail… it’d be interesting to know what sort of legal ramifications there are!

    • Hi Samantha,

      As a former vendor, I would love to read your journal response to this entry. I can’t imagine the other side – I haven’t been there. The madness from one side was enough for me.
      — Dragonlover

  4. I went to ONE bridal expo, and I can’t bring myself to go to anymore. I went with my fiance and my maid-of-honor, and not one of those salespeople ever greeted my fiance. Even when I made a point to bring him forward and introduce him, they would say hello and never speak a word to him again.

    Then when I would try to explain our theme and vision (Celtic medieval), they would stare as if I were speaking Latin. I felt no creativity there whatsoever. There should be Offbeat Bride expos.

    • OMG, I went to a bridal expo with a friend of mine who is also getting married, and I had the same experience as your fiance! My friend tends to look way more glammed up than me since my personal style is pretty casual, and every time we walked by a booth they immediately started talking to her and completely ignored me like I was the “ugly stepsister” or something. Not surprisingly, none of those vendors is going to get my business. The whole meat market atmosphere totally turned me off, and I doubt I’ll be attending any other bridal shows. You are so right about needing offbeat bridal expos!

  5. I went to one with a clear focus in mind, I was looking for a photographer, baker and florist. It was still overwhelming. I ended up being really disappointing. We did find a wonderful photographer and got a great discount but there were so many people and we were either ignored or grabbed by the vendors.

    Also, maybe it was just my expereince, but a lot of brides acted very obnoxious. I dunno what it is but something about being engaged made several of the brides seem VERY entitled!

  6. I didn’t attend any and I’m happier for it!

    Save those huge-ass bridal magazines, though – they’re really expensive to buy in stores and some other bride might be happy to take one off your hands (they kind of scare me, to be honest, but they can be fun to look at even if you’re already married).

  7. Neither my daughter nor I attended a single one. I doubt she was even curious. Since I work in a hotel/casino, I passed a ballroom once where an expo was being held. I couldn’t help it, I didn’t know, and the door was open and I couldn’t stop myself from peeking as I passed by! But the only thing that registered in my tunnel vision was the first disply which was one of bridal bouquets, and I never broke my stride.

  8. I actually wanted to go to a wedding expo over in Saginaw since it’s the closest city to the state park, but I’m really not sure about it. I’ve gone to many expos- horse, boat, camping, etc.- and while I think a part of me would really enjoy going, another is nagging at me that it’s too expensive to bother. That and I really would only be going to find a caterer and/or baker.

    If I do go, it will probably be within a year of my wedding instead of right now.

  9. I went to one wedding show in the beginning of this year and I will never go again… there were so so many things to look at but there was nothing that at the end of the day stood out. I think the best thing out of all of it was I got a $50 off coupon for Davids bridal and I ended up paying only $400 for my dress (it wasnt going to be made anymore so I jumped on it). other than that I don’t think ill use ANYTHING I found there, plus it felt like I was shunned because I don’t have the “attention on me gene”, but on the plus side I think my friend who went with me got more out of it than me… but to each their own and if ya like it who am I to tell you no 🙂

  10. Like others have said, I too had an awful experience at a large bridal expo, and the consequences of me going still happen (I get 1-2 “spam” calls a week from my information being sold… I went to an expo over three months ago).

    However, I’ve been to two expos–the first expo I went to was actually a same-sex wedding expo I went because my best friend worked for the company sponsoring it, and I’m not even in a same-sex relationship. I hadn’t been engaged at the time, but it was FAR superior to the “mainstream” expo I went to; a year later, I’m engaged, and already have my tickets bought for the same expo this month!

    I’d recommend researching smaller expos; all the big expos have the cash to buy radio ads and billboards, while the smaller expos don’t–but the smaller expos are rife with creativity, understanding, and a much better feeling. Plus, if it happens to be a same-sex expo, you can rest easy knowing you have supportive and accepting vendors.

  11. I’ve been on both sides, and heeellll yes they can be absolutely ridiculous! Brides and vendors both!

    Here’s the truth of it though, vendors take part in these shows to generate business. It wouldn’t be worth it for them if they didn’t try and sell their product. With that being said, some of those vendors can be very intrusive. So to avoid emails and phone calls from 50 vendors in one day, don’t put your correct contact information on the main registration form, the one that you fill out at the door. No ahem-ing, just don’t do it! (this goes for bridal websites too, wedalert, eventective, and absolutely David’s bridal being the worst offenders in selling information) If there is a vendor that you are specifically interested in, you can give them your information directly at their booth. Go with an open mind and maybe a shot of Jack and you will enjoy it so much more.

    Don’t take a huge group, they will get lost, or bored, and you will get frustrated. Know what vendors you’re looking for and ignore the rest….except the cupcakes, always take the free cupcakes lol!

    This part is kind of important, most vendors should have their best deals at the show. A lot of times this means you have to book then and there though so be prepared for that. What I often tell my friends is go to a show, take everything home, do your research and go book the vendors you’ve decided on at the next show to get the discounts. In our area, there is usually one every 2 months or so. Always always always do your research. Never book anyone without doing your homework first.

  12. I hooked myself up with a SUPER SMALL one…because let’s face it…i can only talk so fast and to so many people! lol! I never went to one for my personal wedding, but as a vendor – I finally felt the nudge to “get out there” and scope out what my area has to offer as far as meeting new folks. 🙂 It has been a blast so far…and quite frankly – one of the best times I had was handing out buttons that simply said “you are beautiful”. If I never do another show….I’m happy with that last one. 🙂 All the large ones seems SO overwhelming and not even fun to go to. 🙁

  13. To help control the huge amount of stuff you get sent as a bride to be, I set up a separate email for the wedding from gmail. All of the spam etc goes to one place and doesn’t block up my regular email. And the best part is that after the wedding I won’t have to deal with continued spam since it will all go to an email account I don’t need to check.

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