Starting A Local Bridal Expo

Business By stephsweetreats Updated 18 Nov 2015 , 12:31am by stephsweetreats

stephsweetreats Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 5:25pm
post #1 of 11

I attend a bridal expo every year, but the location/brides it draws is a bit out of my normal customer base location wise.  Not that I haven't gained customers or weddings from it, I just feel like a local one in my town would do even better (for me and for other local small businesses).  I would continue attending the bridal expo I currently attend, I just want to start something new.

My idea is to utilize a local church that has a very large and nice conference room (only costs $5 an hour to use).  I would make the programs myself, advertise for it via my facebook, blog, and have the other vendors do the same, as well as getting the large local Facebook page for my county to post about it.  This should bring in people, and I know it won't draw a huge crowd the first year or two, but I think I will draw people by being local and draw in vendors due the cost aspect.

Since the location will only end up costing me $10-20 depending on length of time, and the programs won't be much either, I think if I just get each vendor to cover a few $'s each it would easily cover everything.  I would have each vendor bring their own tables, unless the church has some-still haven't checked into all the details.  

I would also probably do a few door prizes from vendors for the attendees.  

So I guess my questions are:

What are your thoughts?/If someone were offering this to you would you join?

I'm not charging the ungodly amounts other expos do (since they charge for all the advertising, etc, that go into it), would not charge above actual costs.  Do not want to do this for a profit, want to do it to benefit local small businesses.  This should make it all legal correct?   I know the health department rules, etc for the area.  I take cupcakes to expos and that is allowed; I don't think there would be any other food products or anything at the one I put on.   Maybe just refreshments like water/lemonade.

Good idea?

10 replies
cakedout Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 7:08pm
post #2 of 11

First of all, I would think that you may have to run this either as a business or under your business name.

Second- you absolutely need to do advertising other than the internet!  You really need to hit those local newspapers at least 4 weeks ahead, and def the weekend papers the 2 weeks prior.  That is where you are going to get your local attendees.   Radio ads are great too, but can be costly.....but probably worth it.   This is why those shows cost a lot - because of the money spent on advertising.  And if you are getting a couple hundred/thousand brides going past your booth- then it is generally worth the cost.

I once did a show for a gal like you- wanted to do a low-cost expo....well, that was fine, but her invitations, 'contracts' and generally all communications were terribly unprofessional.  In addition, she only did a sparse amount of advertising - and nothing in the Sunday paper the week before or day of!!  She had a nice group of vendors at a very popular venue and only 12 brides showed up!

Vendors will need to be invited up to a year in advance.  You can do a basic announcement 12 months out, then a couple months later do an actual invite with a registration form & contract. 

Vendors may also expect some hospitality:  snacks or even a catered lunch available.  The show I worked for did coffee and donuts,etc during set-up hours, then provided a boxed lunch (each booth received a certain number of tickets for the lunches).

After the show, all of the brides contact information is gathered and put into a spreadsheet indicating which services they needed and each registered vendor is then mailed a copy for their post-show leads.  (The cost of providing this is also part of the vendor booth fee.)

So all of this to say - sure, it's a great idea, but do your homework and allow yourself plenty of time to work up professional looking invitations (hardcopy or email), show website, registration forms for the brides and vendors, vendor contracts, figure out how day-of registration will be handled and how you plan on gathering the brides info and how you plan on distributing it -not to mention how you plan on avoiding those that "steal" bridal lists from such shows.....  just some stuff to consider!

stephsweetreats Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 7:18pm
post #3 of 11

All great advise cakedonut!  I definitely plan on pushing this project out to the future (not throw it together).  The reason I say I would use Facebook for advertising is because my location is very small town-word of mouth type of town.  Not many people read the local papers- in fact my business has been almost solely grown on facebook and word of mouth.  Did radio for a month or two and didn't do anything that I could tell-and never done the local paper because a very small population looks at it.  

The bridal show I attend now is only a little over 100 brides now (on a good year)-and it's considered a "big show".  So you can see just how small town the area I live in is :)

I want to go to the show you go to!  Coffee, donuts and lunch for vendors!? I had to buy lunch and water at the show I attend as a vendor. 

I totally agree with you on getting organized and yes on gathering all the bride info; I love getting the contact info after shows so I follow up.  

Thank you!

cakedout Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 8:54pm
post #4 of 11

LOL wow- sounds like you really do live in small town!  :D   Love it!  And good luck to you!

stephsweetreats Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 9:05pm
post #5 of 11

Lol yup very small town compared to most!  (around 5,000 people).  Thank you!!

TheItalianBaker Posted 16 Nov 2015 , 11:20pm
post #6 of 11

don't have many tips but I want to say I LOVE your idea!!

My sister, back in Italy, has a bridal shop. She used to attend a very large bridal expo: they often have some sort of fashion show.. Also, all the brides needs to get invitations online (for free or very small charge) so they leave their emails and infos. At the end of the expo, every vendor gets this list, so they can get in touch with each bride.

A bit annoying if you are a bride, totally worth it if you are a vendor, in my opinion!

stephsweetreats Posted 17 Nov 2015 , 12:44pm
post #7 of 11

TheItalianBaker I totally agree!  Getting that list as a vendor is great; I too get one at the one I currently attend.  They also have a fashion show but it is the one things I don't care for about the show as a vendor.  I wouldn't mind if it was a shorter show, but the event is 3 hours long and the fashion show takes an hour and a half!  So by time brides show up, get into the show and make their way to the vendor tables the show starts and after the show it's time to pack up and go-guests take off pretty quickly.  So the time with the brides is so limited.  Thanks for the input!

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 17 Nov 2015 , 1:06pm
post #8 of 11

I love the idea but I think that there will be a LOT more work than you think and legalities to consider.  If you are collecting brides' data, then you need to be aware of data protection laws.  Store the data securely etc.  There is insurance for the venue at the time - if you are hiring the function room, who is responsible if someone gets injured?  If you are in such a small town, is there actually enough brides to actually make the event worthwhile?  How do you select vendors?  Will you allow multiple vendors of the same type?  Don't get me wrong but I think there will be a lot to consider and whether or not you will actually get to advertise yourself while being the 'go to' for everything and everyone on the day is debatable!!  Good luck xx

stephsweetreats Posted 17 Nov 2015 , 1:17pm
post #9 of 11

Snowflakebunny23 all great points and things I'm looking into :)  As for the vendors we shouldn't run into too many multiples due to the area being a smaller one.  Most shows have multiples, but it's something I have to think about.  I don't want 10 photographers (which is definitely what the area has the most of).

I'm also hoping that due to the area being rural, all the small town brides within a certain radius would come to  this one; also if couples want to support small local businesses they would come to this one.  I by no means think the first year will be big, but I could hopefully make it grow.  I have some other vendors who would help make this thing happen so it wouldn't all fall on me/I'd have help with planning, research, gathering stuff.

I will do some research on the insurance part.  I know this church has events booked almost every day- they rent out their big kitchen (I used it before getting my shop up and running), gym, cafe, and conference room.  So I'm sure they are well equipped to tackle that question.  

Thank you so much for the tips!

craftybanana2 Posted 18 Nov 2015 , 12:11am
post #10 of 11

If you're in a town that is that small, then why not start doing a fundraiser type of event? We have a small town and there is a fundraiser that involves antique wedding gowns being worn on a runway. I forget who it benefits and I've never been, but it happens every year. Maybe turn it into a fundraiser focused on bridal stuff? Try talking to your local bridal shops and see what events they go to, what they like and don't like etc. Also try your local chamber of commerce, go to a few meetings, toss the idea around and see what response you get. Just a thought! blush.png

Also with any event, make sure you have a trusted group of people and meet regularly for updates, discussion, etc. even if it's with Skype. And don't forget to Delegate!

Oh, and with the newspaper advertising, give them high quality pictures with a prepared press release blurb and invite them to cover the event. Sometimes certain sections of the newspaper will highlight one event each week.

*Last edited by craftybanana2 on 18 Nov 2015 , 12:18am
stephsweetreats Posted 18 Nov 2015 , 12:31am
post #11 of 11

craftybanana2 that is great idea!  I am part of the local Chamber of Commerce so I will definitely throw the idea there way.  They would also be able to help me wrangle in a crows AND they offer advertising discounts with local radio and newspapers to chamber members.  So if I go that route, at least I'll get it at a discount.  :)  

Great tips on the regular meetings and delegating as well!  Thank you!

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