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.
Next instalment: a wedding show survival guide