I can't believe 2019 is nearly at an end! Before you know it, 2020 will be upon us and, so too, will be a whole host of wedding fayres. The start of the year tends to be the busiest season for wedding fayres. Not only are lots of couples excited about becoming engaged over Christmas and New Year but for lots of other couples, the dawning of January 1st brings the mild panic of "we're getting married this year - we really must get organised!". Consequently, although wedding planning can be exciting for some, the thought of starting the search for suppliers can be hugely daunting for others.
The temptation of a glass of prosecco, cake samples and goody bags can often be enough of a draw to entice along newly engaged couples but it goes hand in hand with chatting to suppliers who are, essentially, strangers. So if you are unsure of what to expect when visiting a fayre or are wary about throwing yourself into the planning, here are a few of my top tips for attending and getting the most out of a wedding fayre:
1) It's never too early to attend your first fayre.
It doesn't matter if you haven't set a date or found your perfect venue yet - if you are engaged and there is a wedding fayre happening locally, pop in and give yourself a head start on the planning. Pick up as much literature as you can - believe me, there will be plenty on offer. No-one will mind if you're not quite at the stage of booking venues and suppliers just yet but you will give yourself a much better idea of where to start. You may pick up a brilliant nugget of information or stumble across some amazing inspiration. You may even be walking into your perfect venue without even realising it.
2) Have a venue in mind? Attend their open day or wedding fayre for an informal look around.
Deciding on a venue can be daunting. Planning times to look around or arranging a meeting with the wedding coordinator may be a little too scary so why not take away the stress by attending wedding fayres at your potential venues so that you can have a more informal look around. If you are interested then there will always be someone on hand to give you more information regarding availability and price.
3) There are no silly questions
I see this all the time - couples attend wedding fayres with the intention of booking a supplier or two but then get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle and leave without speaking to anyone. Let me reassure you, there are no silly questions! Every wedding is different and, as such, every couple has different questions and requirements. As suppliers, we may have attended hundreds of weddings, but for most couples, we understand that this is probably the first time you have ever planned something such as this - each and every supplier can offer advice and guidance so, if nothing else, it would be a shame not to utilise that knowledge.
4) Aim to arrive at least 90 minutes before closing
If you want to have time to have a good chat with suppliers then it is normally best to arrive towards the end of the day. There is always a surge of couples through the door at the start of every wedding fayre which means potentially having to compete with other couples to speak to all of the suppliers. By arriving later you can normally guarantee that you will be able to have a longer, more in depth chat with all of the suppliers you are interested in speaking to. It also often means that you may be able to benefit from the remaining goodies (cake samples, flowers etc...) being given away as suppliers try and empty their tables before they pack everything away!
5) Go with an open mind
Don't attend a fayre with the explicit intention of booking X, Y and Z. Yes, you may find the perfect supplier but, quite often, you will also find inspiration and ideas for things that you didn't even know you wanted! Almost every decent wedding fayre will have photographers, florists, cake-makers, venue dressers and wedding gown suppliers. But what about horse-box photo booths, magicians, speciality gin bars, singing waiters, bespoke child care? The list is pretty much endless - pop along to a fayre or two and you will see how varied wedding suppliers can be.
6) Get to know the suppliers
This is THE best thing about wedding fayres - you get to meet the people behind the business. Weddings are a hugely personal thing. Yes, it's possible to book all of your suppliers online or over the phone but I believe that meeting your suppliers face-to-face is vital. For example, you may absolutely adore the work of a specific photographer so if you see that they will be at a local fayre, go along and say hello and make sure that you will feel comfortable with them - after all, you will end up spending most of your wedding day in their company! Talk to people, discuss your ideas and then trust your gut instinct - it will serve you much better than sticking rigidly to a certain budget.
7) Search for local wedding fayres and put them in your diary
If you notice that a wedding fayre is happening locally or at a venue you are considering, put the date in your diary immediately! If you don't then it may just slip your mind and you'll kick yourself for the missed opportunity. Often you will find that a number of local fayres may be taking place on the same day - make the most of it and visit as many as possible. This is a great way to get lots of supplier-hunting done in a short amount of time, especially if your other half isn't as sold on the benefits of wedding fayres as you are!
In the new year, you will be able to find me at:
- STEAM Museum, Swindon - Saturday 11th January
- Neeld Hall, Chippenham - Sunday 19th January
- Limpley Stoke Hotel - Sunday 26th January
- Bath Assembly Rooms - Sunday 23rd February