My First Bridal Fair.. What Do I Need To Know?

Business By HarleyDee Updated 24 Aug 2009 , 9:09pm by loriemoms

HarleyDee Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:05pm
post #1 of 19

I've attended my share of bridal fairs as a bride-to-be, but this time I'm on the vendor end. I really don't know what to expect other than lots of people at my table grabbing for samples. I know there will be a lot of people that will simply walk by, grab my card and brochure, and then be on their way. I'm including my flavors list and my pricing list. Anything else that is a must-have as far as getting it on paper to get in the brides' hands?

And here's another kicker. I have been doing cakes for four years now, but only decided this year to do it full time. So, unfortunately, I only just started photographing my cakes. So I'm not going to have a book for clients to flip through. I don't feel too bad about it though, because the two other bakeries that will be there basically just shove books at clients and say "that's what we do." I told my husband I want to tell clients that I don't have a book because I don't want my clients to feel like those are their only choices. I don't want them to feel limited. I'm in the business of custom designed cakes. I want to sit down with a client and create whatever they have in mind. If they have no idea, then we'll talk about colors, textures, flip through magazines and pull things they like from different cakes.. (This is what I have done with the 3 wedding cakes I have on the books so far, and none of those brides complained about not having a book of my cakes). Does that sound cheesy? Or does it sound like a cop out?

I'm going to have at least 3 display cakes on my table, as well as the decorated cookies, so the clients can see I know what I'm doing.. and then of course samples (at least 2 different flavors) so they can see I can make stuff that tastes good icon_smile.gif

Any advice, tips, opinions, or anything else any of you have would be greatly appreciated icon_smile.gif

18 replies
leah_s Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:07pm
post #2 of 19

Sounds like you've got it! Be sure to have a copy of your license with you, because health inspectors are notorious for walking through asking food vendors for their license. After all its a "target rich environment" for them.

indydebi Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:24pm
post #3 of 19

And be sure to walk around and visit & meet the other vendors. Meeting brides is 2nd on the list of bridal show benefits. The number one benefit is meeting, getting to know, and connecting with the other wedding vendors.

I dont' keep my samples on the front table (I dont' have a front table ... I turn it sideways so the booth is open and inviting). I keep them behind my "podium" so I can hand the sample and a fork to the bride as they approach the booth (they are in a lidded cup, so I can grab the cup of cake and a fork without losing any eye contact with the bride). So that also eliminates the grab-n-go from passersby

Know that this is not really the time to chat and make consultion appts. You may only have time for about 30 seconds of conversation. Keep it conversational.

Believe it or not, a good question I ask is "Are you shopping for your wedding cake today?" because you'll be surprised at how many will say, "No, we've got that all taken care of." If they're still shopping, I ask "When's your date?" A good conversation thing I do is if someone says "October", I tell them, "Oh then you have to be a quick decision maker, since Oct is the new #1 wedding month!" Most brides don't know this and I emphasize they are competing with all those other brides who are wanting the same venue, florist and cake maker as they do. "So if you want your first choice, you need to book the vendor quickly." (You also look smart and informed when you give them the Oct info! thumbs_up.gif )

Most important, have fun with it! I love doing shows!

HarleyDee Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:34pm
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Sounds like you've got it! Be sure to have a copy of your license with you, because health inspectors are notorious for walking through asking food vendors for their license. After all its a "target rich environment" for them.




I asked the fair coordinator about this, and she assured me that the inspectors don't come. I will be taking mine anyway, but she said that it's never a problem. Knowing my luck it would be, lol icon_smile.gif

HarleyDee Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:37pm
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

And be sure to walk around and visit & meet the other vendors. Meeting brides is 2nd on the list of bridal show benefits. The number one benefit is meeting, getting to know, and connecting with the other wedding vendors.

I dont' keep my samples on the front table (I dont' have a front table ... I turn it sideways so the booth is open and inviting). I keep them behind my "podium" so I can hand the sample and a fork to the bride as they approach the booth (they are in a lidded cup, so I can grab the cup of cake and a fork without losing any eye contact with the bride). So that also eliminates the grab-n-go from passersby




I will definitely be meeting other vendors. I know I get asked, "can you recommend a florist?" so I know that other vendors get asked too.

And as far as tables go, I wish we had a booth like what you're talking about, but get one table and that's it. 6' long table, and two chairs to go behind it. They try to get as many vendors in the space that they have, so they cut back on "table space." Kinda stinks, but I guess the vendor price might be lower compared to other cities. This is the only place out city has one though, one in January and one in September. The next closest fair is over an hour away.

indydebi Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:46pm
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyDee

6' long table, and two chairs to go behind it.




Yep. That's what I get. I turn the table so it runs down one side. Then I use my rubbermaid containers to make a "table" to put my laptop on.

Here's a pic: http:[email protected]/3302380240/in/set-72157619094515892/

The red tablecloth (That I brought with me) is covered my two rubbermaid containers stacked on top of each other. The chairs are behind the red-cloth'd stand. On one chair, I have my bussing tub that holds my cake samples and forks (behind the red-cloth table, out of sight but very in-reach for me). Extra samples, in a lidded bussing tub, are stored under the white-clothed table.

kakeladi Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:50pm
post #7 of 19

Take your own table(s) and comfortable chair(s) icon_smile.gif
Wear comfortable shoes and take a 2nd pr so you can change part way thru the day. You will be surprised how much this helps icon_smile.gif
Take some snacks & drink for you. YOu might not get a chance to get away from the both to eat.
If at all possible have someone there with you....helps as they can answer some very basic ?s or converse w/people while you are busy w/someone else. Also to watch over your thing - while you run to the potty.
Don't listen to the coondinator of the fair about the health dept! You never know when they will show. We had to have a special one day license for the show, even if we have our shop license! (At least me county did.)
Take sturdy boxes to set your display cake(s) on so they are not all at the same level (cover w/a very nice tablecloth). When you decorate them.......make one cake two designs - 1 design on one side and a different one on the other side. Put the cake on a lazy susan/turntable.
Make a groom's cake!

indydebi Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:56pm
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kakeladi

When you decorate them.......make one cake two designs - 1 design on one side and a different one on the other side. Put the cake on a lazy susan/turntable. Make a groom's cake!




Both good ideas that I haven't done at a show but will be doing at any future shows!

Here's dummy cake I set up at a venue that is done in two colors, to give brides a visual in two colors: http:[email protected]/3760031197/

HarleyDee Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 11:59pm
post #9 of 19

This is all very helpful! Debi, I like how you did your table. Very smart.

I will have two other people there with me. One to help answer questions, hand out info, whatever, and then one to do nothing but replenish samples.

Also Debi, thanks for the advice on what to talk to them about. I realize I will only have a few seconds to chat, so that helps give me an idea on what to chat about. Anything else I should say conversation-wise?

indydebi Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 12:11am
post #10 of 19

just follow their lead in the conversation. Not getting married until the end of 2010? "Oh good! A bride who is starting early in her research! Smart girl!"

Wedding is in 6 weeks and they don't have a cake yet? "My goodness, darlin', you need to hustle and get this taken care of!"

Their date is kinda close but not? "You have plenty of planning time, but it's going to go by faster than you think!"

I love "working a room" anyway, so doing this kind of stuff is what I'd do for fun and entertainment, if I could! icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 12:55am
post #11 of 19

One of the first things I do with my booth is give away the chairs. The last thing you want to do is sit behind your table. You gotta be out in front, working the aisle.

HarleyDee Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 3:26am
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

One of the first things I do with my booth is give away the chairs. The last thing you want to do is sit behind your table. You gotta be out in front, working the aisle.




Oh yeh, I won't be sitting at all! icon_smile.gif I'm gonna be schmoozing icon_biggrin.gif

HarleyDee Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 5:19pm
post #13 of 19

So how do you all feel about what I mentioned about my book? Or, rather, not having a book? Does what I have planned to say sound dumb?

DreamCakesOnline Posted 18 Aug 2009 , 6:37pm
post #14 of 19

I've never done one before either but I'm going to have a booth in one next month and I won't bring a book either. I'm planning on having about a half a dozen display cakes on a table at the back of the booth that will showcase different techniques, shapes and ideas. I figure that's taking the place of a book or a computer setup with pictures. I figure you can't really depend on a picture of something because we could all scarf pictures off the internet and not tell someone where we got them. I had a bride ask me to see some of my work a few weeks ago because she hadn't had time to look at the gallery on my webpage. I whipped out the camera in my pocketbook and showed her my cakes in amongst my trip to IKEA and my daughter's college graduation. Still doesn't mean that I couldn't fudge that but I figure that the display cakes would be tougher to lay hands on unless you did them yourself. I may even make up some sample flowers and have them displayed so they can see them. I think most people like to see something in person.

jenmat Posted 19 Aug 2009 , 1:11am
post #15 of 19

I also put some frames with pics of my cakes in them dispersed among my displays. I have a LOT of people looking at my book at every show. I've never seen a visual vendor (photographer, florist, etc) at our local shows without one. I made a book on Snapfish so that I could keep my real portfolio at home. That way I don't have to worry about damage.
Also, if you do cupcakes, have a few display ones scattered about. I did that last week and it made a lot of brides stop and take a second look- not sure why, but they really took time at my booth to notice them!
Make sure your signage is prominent- get a professional banner! They aren't very expensive, but make a huge difference!

Solecito Posted 19 Aug 2009 , 6:06pm
post #16 of 19
HarleyDee Posted 19 Aug 2009 , 9:24pm
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecito

Great tips from a lot of members

http://www.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-580310.html

HTH




Awesome, thanks icon_smile.gif

OSeaGal Posted 20 Aug 2009 , 3:08am
post #18 of 19

As a professional wedding consultant AND have also done bridal fairs, my suggestions would be:

1) Have a drawing - either offer a cake for 1/2 off (chef's design choice) or whatever you decide but they have to provide you their info. They drop into a box or fishbowl. The key part of this to work is to follow-up with the leads. Most of the shows provide them with a sheet of personalized labels and the brides just stick it on your drawing card.

2) Offer a Bridal show discount. If they come for a tasting and book within the next 8 weeks (or whatever) then they get a _____% discount. But they have to mention which Bridal show when they book the appointment, this helps you to know if your bridal show dollars are paying off.

3) Have your website looking awesome with great photos of your work. Brides don't care so much to look at your book at the show, they are "power browsing" vendors. BUT, they will take your card and check you out online when they are home. If your site is cheesy or unprofessional, then you will not get a phone call. Brides are snobby that way.

4) Yes, go schmooze the other vendors especially the Wedding Planners/Consultants/Coordinators - offer them a professional discount on their own personal cake for their kids birthday, whatever, and they will send you referrals. The venues that do not have on-site bakery - See if you can get a deal with the venues and offer them an inclusive discount, you will be getting a ton of referrals.

5) Partner with a florist (that may be in the show as well) and have them put fresh flowers on your wedding cake(s). Provide them with a dummy cake for their booth that they can decorate, each booths with a sign with your/their info, double marketing.

All this you may already know, just giving my experience with shows....HTH!

loriemoms Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 9:09pm
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyDee

Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Sounds like you've got it! Be sure to have a copy of your license with you, because health inspectors are notorious for walking through asking food vendors for their license. After all its a "target rich environment" for them.



I asked the fair coordinator about this, and she assured me that the inspectors don't come. I will be taking mine anyway, but she said that it's never a problem. Knowing my luck it would be, lol icon_smile.gif




We dont have this problem at our shows either. I have done a few dozen shows and never had anyone ask me for a license.

I agree with Deb, though, it is a great opportunity to mix with other vendors! I have met a lot of great photographers and caterers at the show as well as other bakers!!

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