One of the fun parts of the bridal expo: The fashion show with all these gorgeous wedding dresses
After the overwhelming response from part 1 (how to use wedding shows to save money), here’s part 2 on how to physically survive an exhausting bridal show full of lots of standing, talking, lugging around brochures, and sugar overdosing. Bridal shows are great because you can talk to wedding vendors in person and avoid hours and hours and hours of Google search and phonecall time, all in one place. We tasted cakes at the wedding show and one was so good that we decided then and there that it would be our bakery. Took one thing off our list right away! When we went to buy was a pleasant experience.
- The most important tip: Go with your fiance!!! I can’t stress this enough. Number one, it’s his/her wedding too so they should have input. Number two, at Canada’s Bridal Show they called up the grooms on stage to do silly dances and the winner got a $5,000 diamond ring! A second set of eyes is great, and your fiance will be able to help you cut down on which vendors are a definite no so you can cut down on the number of heavy brochures you’ll have to lug around the rest of the day. You two are marrying to become a team, start practicing teamwork now!
- Wedding expos are usually held at ginormous convention centers. This means don’t wear stilettos and don’t wear thick jackets. You will do lots of walking. You will get hot and bothered (literally, not figuratively). Today is time to put away the Louboutins and stick to the Nikes.
- The first items you will see when you walk in are the wedding magazines. Make these the LAST items you pick up. Some of these are as thick as these ancient devices of the 80s called catalogues and phonebooks. I know you’re trying to get in shape for the wedding but you will get tired, fast if you pick them up first.
- Figure out your nourishment strategy. You will need lots of energy to carry around all those brochures. Remember, convention centers often equal quality food like hot dogs or greasy pizza for $7 per slice. I personally went on a half-full stomach because I knew there would be cake samples. You don’t want to feel sick by stuffing your stomach full o’cake on top of a regular meal. I am also happy to say I did have a few lunches that consisted solely of cake :). Take this knowledge my child and do what is best for you.
- In the last post we discussed how to get discounts at the wedding shows, but don’t assume everything is a bargain! Make SURE you shop around. I’ve bitched and moaned about wedding price gouging on this blog over and over and over again. Just remember that you can get a lot of stuff you need from vendors that are not in the wedding show circuit, and don’t charge you your first born child as payment. The florist down the street from my parents’ house offered a MUCH better deal than the “wedding specialist florists.” They were still gorgeous, cheaper, and our florist knew the local church so there were no issues with deliveries. You can find much cheaper prices online even, on stuff like wedding invitations.
Sure this looks great, but talented florists can be found away from the wedding show circuit too.
- Take the organizers. These are agenda books with checklists and schedule on what order you should do your wedding-related tasks. These are full of ads, but very, very good in helping you plan the long list of things you’ll have to do and will point out things you may never have even thought of.
- DON’T buy a clearance wedding dress at a bridal show! This will probably be your first exposure to wedding gowns and you will be so starry eyed about your new engagement, you will find every dress gorgeous. Don’t fall into the trap! You should look at photos of gowns in those magazines, and then go to a place where you can try on those dresses with good lighting and proper mirrors. That way you won’t be stuck with a clearance dress from two years ago that may be damaged (the lighting sucks! It might be damaged and not even the vendor knows it). Because you know as soon as you drop the cash you’ll see one in a magazine that you like better. You want to go to a place where you will have recourse in case there’s issues with your dress. I mean if you’re spending, $1,000 do you really want to get it at what is basically sidewalk sale? Seriously, it may be tough, but I promise you will have a better experience if you wait it out and go to a store. I will be posting about Toronto’s best bridal shops soon.
- Watch out for contests. There will be hundreds of vendors offering hundreds of contests. Some of these we’ve found weren’t actually “contests.” The vendors will call you back 2 weeks later saying you’ve “won” something, but in fact, everyone who entered “won.” And it often involves stuff like “winning $500 worth of stuff if you spend $2,000” or buy only their most expensive package. Just be aware of which contests you’re actually interested in and how reputable the vendor is. . And added incentive to be careful. Blogger Rogue Bride found out her information was sold to scammers! If you do end up entering contests, some people suggest printing out stickers or business cards with your contact info in advance, so you don’t have to fill out endless forms all day. We didn’t do that, so it helped us cut down on the number entered.
- Focus on the owners to avoid “wedding vendor factories.” We found some photographers, for example, that have a pool of 20 photographers and you get some random one at your wedding. That means the one you get could have a completely different style from the one whose album you’re looking at. Focus on the places where the owners are the only photographers available and you know you’ll be getting what you paid for.
So hopefully you’ll have planned this out so the wedding show will be a fun experience. They can be overwhelming, but are worth it alone for the fashion shows. They bring out some fun DJs, and you can drool over wedding dresses in action on the catwalk. I hope you have fun at your shows and come out ahead and congrats on your engagement!
A bridesmaid dress on sale at the bridal show for just $30! I wouldn’t make the bridesmaids buy on the spot with no colour selection, but you can wear this at your rehearsal dinner, or bachelorette. Look great, and it’s cheap.
Some wedding shows in the Toronto area: Canada’s Bridal Show. The Total Wedding Show. The Wedding Co. Show. The Wedluxe Wedding show, the National Bridal Show.
A model shows off a wedding dress on the catwalk at Canada’s Bridal Show in Toronto in January 2011.
Hunting season has begun! With the holidays being a hot time for people to get engaged, it’s no wonder wedding shows use January as their prime season to target those sparkly-eyed brides excited about planning their upcoming nuptials.
We went to about 6 shows all over the Greater Toronto Area so we became veterans of this exhausting circuit. Seriously, you will be overwhelmed and tired, but it’s well worth going to score some money-saving deals. Sure, you walk around meeting endless vendors, picking up heavy brochures, filling out prize ballots, watching fashion shows, and testing out limos. Everything will start looking the same. But you do at least get a sweet reward when you go to the bakery booths and get to taste wedding cakes!
Here is the first of a two part series: How to find deals at the bridal show. Next instalment will be a survival guide!
- Some wedding shows are free. Others make you pay. Some are free for brides only, but since they don’t ask you to prove whether you’re getting married, if all your friends and even your mom are conveniently brides too *wink wink* they will also get in for free. Your fiance will have to pay, unfortunately (ridiculous)
- Paying to get into a wedding show sounds dumb, but going can help you save HOURS of Googling and phone time by exposing you to hundreds of vendors all at once. You can get a general idea about pricing, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you can snag some deals there too.
Here’s how to save money through the wedding expos:
- Be an early bird. Look at the bridal show websites in advance. They often have a $5 off discount or 2 for 1 admission coupons. I have seen Canada’s Bridal Show in Toronto do this several times. If you buy online, you can skip the lines which can be brutal. (We once waited 1 hour just to get in!)
- Wait until the show to open a wedding registry. The big department stores give you some kind of incentive for signing up for a registry at the show. When we signed up, The Bay, Home Outfitters and Sears were offering $10 gift cards and entering couples into draws for thousands of dollars in appliances. If you’re going to sign up for a registry anyway, you might as well wait for the show, and get $10 bucks for it, right? And bonus if you win a food processor!
- Don’t spend a dime on bridal magazines or planners. You will get about 4 issues of popular ones for free at these shows. In Canada you usually get the fall and winter issues of both ‘Today’s Bride” and “Weddingbells” and “Wedluxe,” not to mention wedding magazines specifically for your region. These can go for as much as $7 each. Collecting these on your way out of the show can potentially save you up to $45.
- Look for the wedding show specials. If you find vendors you like, check if they offer a “wedding show special.” We were very close to booking a particular photographer, but we saw that they had a “wedding show special” of a free photo album. We were going to book with them anyway, so it was nice to get a little bonus for signing up within a few weeks of the wedding show. This bonus was worth $600!
- Look for cheap accessories: If you know exactly what kind of accessories you want, buy them at the show. Shoe and jewelry vendors often do clearance sales at wedding shows. We saw bride and bridesmaid shoes for $20 and bridesmaid dresses on for $30 (these can cost $200). So if you don’t care if you get last season’s shoes, and your bridesmaids don’t want identical dresses, you can snag a great deal.
- Look for freebies. I got a free garter, some feather boas for the bachelorette party, and bridal organizers that totally saved my butt a few times. These organizers are gold. They’re like day planners, and they have handy checklists and give you tips on what you should do, and when, when planning a traditional wedding. You can buy them for $20 at the bookstore, but why should you when you can get it for free at the show?
Anyway ladies, I wish you luck at the wedding conventions! They can be exhausting but they’re a great way to save money.
Models at the fashion shows show off everything from gowns, hair and makeup vendors, shoes, and even bouquets like this one.
Some wedding shows in the Toronto area: Canada’s Bridal Show. The Total Wedding Show. The Wedding Co. Show. The Wedluxe Wedding show, the National Bridal Show.
Next instalment: a wedding show survival guide
The wedding band that matches my engagement ring
The title says it all.
Fiance bought me an engagement ring with a band that is not a typical shape. It needs the matching band to fit properly because it is kind of pointy.
The photo of the band is above.
We went to the store (Tiffany’s) a few months ago to put in our orders for our bands. Fiance’s would be easy to find, but they said they’d have to call around at all their locations to see where they could find one for me because yellow gold isn’t popular anymore. The store said they’d call us back in about a month when they arrived. After 6 weeks, with no call, fiance got antsy and we drove over there to find out what was going on.
Good thing he insisted we go. Turns out they never processed our order. There was no record of our request for either of our bands.
This is when we learned that the only wedding band that goes with my ring is actually discontinued in yellow gold.
Yes, they sell the yellow gold engagement ring with the non-standard shape, but they don’t sell the matching wedding band. The clerk was actually the one that pointed out how dumb this is.
So I pretty much need the matching band or I can never wear my engagement ring with it. I guess they assume you won’t get married and the engagement ring is enough? Ha!
The lady who was helping us was horrified. I think she was more worried than we were. She told us to take a walk around the mall for an hour and come back. We did and she said she had located a ring for me, two sizes too big, but the right shape. And by some holy miracle, the ONE ring they had in all of North America happened to be at their other location in town. *Phew*
I went down there the next day to sort everything out and so they could shrink the size. They said they’d call me in 6 business days. It’s been 7. Methinks I should swing by tomorrow just to make sure everything is fine. I won’t believe it until the ring is in my hands lol.
We were at Tiffany’s yesterday to look at wedding bands and it was packed! Not with people buying bands, but with people buying engagement rings. No wonder. This one woman brought an army of bridesmaids with her to choose her ring. No dude in sight. And of course, the rock was huge. She had a bad attitude too, giving snarky looks to anyone that wouldn’t let her monopolize the counter. Excuse me for wanting to actually buy something and not just gawk or squeal like you. I feel sorry for the guys who are going to marry women like that and this other spoiled brat I mentioned a while back.
So I’ve discovered a quick and easy test to find out whether your jeweler is clueless or actually knows what they’re talking about.
Avoid ones that say your engagement ring is ugly.
I went into a small jewelry store and asked for wedding bands so we can start comparing prices. Fiance wasn’t there yet.
Owner showed me the mens’ rings and suggested that I consider some from a catalogue that were brand new and hadn’t arrived yet.
He said they have a different finish on the edges and look nicer on the finger compared to the others in his store.
“Describe how it will look different,” I asked.
He points at my engagement ring and says “better than that.”
So he is saying his $350, plain wedding band will look better than my diamond engagement ring from a well-known jewelry boutique.
Seems like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, which makes me wonder what he’d try to sell me. But I’m pretty sure he’s actually well versed in his industry and is just trying to convince me to spend on something sight unseen.
So while he wasn’t outright rude (aside from suggesting my ring is ugly!), he must be crazy to think any customer would believe what he says instead of judging the quality with their own eyes, especially after a comment like that.
So we all know weddings cost a ton.
But they wouldn’t cost *as* much if certain sellers didn’t take advantage of couples stuck paying for wedding fees.
So many corporate Christmas parties or fundraising dinners cost $50 per person on a Saturday night. A wedding costs double or more. Same amount of food, decorations, same party. A wedding costs more for some unknown reason.
Take this bracelet I bought recently. I got it at an independent jewelry store in downtown Toronto for $20. Just bought it because I liked it, not to wear at the wedding or anything. A few weeks later, I saw it at the wedding dress store for $75. That’s almost quadruple the price.
I probably could’ve bought it in Chinatown for $5
Yes, a $55 difference for the EXACT same thing. It’s pretty cheap quality. I wouldn’t pay more than $20 for it.
The wedding dress store was selling it for half price one-day only, which would’ve made it $37.50, but you miss that day, and you’ll pay out the nose. And regardless, $37.50 is still $17 more than you’d have to pay if you bought it at a non-wedding related store like I did.
So moral of the story is, see if there’s something you like a wedding stores, but comparison shop before you fork out the cash. You might find the exact same thing, but at a store that doesn’t have the words “wedding” or “bridal” plastered all over it. And it could cost 4 times less too.