For years, we’ve participated as vendors in bridal shows, and while preparing for an upcoming bridal show, we were reflecting on some of the lessons we’ve learned. What’s worked, what hasn’t….that sort of thing. And, that got us thinking about what we’d recommend to other wedding photographers (like you!) who are thinking about jumping into the bridal show market.
Participating in a bridal show can certainly be a lucrative business move, especially if you’re a wedding photographer who recently relocated to a new market or you’re a new wedding photographer and looking for a way to interact with hundreds of brides and other wedding professionals in one spot, on one day.
Here are our five top tips, whether you’ve never attended a bridal show or are looking for a few fresh ideas for your next bridal show:
Set up and take down at a bridal show can get pretty gnarly, but we always attend bridal shows together so that’s not too big of an issue for us. And here’s our not-so-secret secret: we bring our super fabulous assistant with us too! Heck, if two is better than one, then three is definitely better than two. And it works! With a third person in the booth, we’re able to make contact with more people.
It’s easy to attend a bridal show, walk the expo floor, and fall in love with other vendors’ booths, especially other photographers. After all, we’re an artistic, creative bunch. But before you toss your entire set in the dumpster outside the expo building, think about you and your branding. You want your booth and products to represent you, whether it’s ultra modern or classic photojournalistic or whatever.
From our clothing choices all the way down to our business cards, we want our setup to convey our brand 100%. Always display your strongest, most impactful images, the ones you like best. Reality check: if the future brides and grooms rolling by don’t respond to your favorites then there probably won’t be much of a connection. We like to think we are everyone’s favorite, but that’s simply not always the case.
You will receive a lead list from the bridal show organizers typically within 7-10 days of the event, but you’re going to want to contact your booth visitors right away because they’ll be the most interested in hiring you. Email them when you get home or, at the latest, the next day.
We use notepads to collect names, email addresses, the potential wedding date, potential venue location, and a “fun fact” (our go-to question, for example, is “What’s rad about you?”). PRO TIP: add a few notes on the back of their page if you have time so you can personalize the email you send later.
It always blows our minds how late vendors show up and how early they check out. We feel we dropped a bunch of cash on this endeavor so we’re going to hang out as long as possible and talk to as many people as we can. And there are always a few who sneak in early and linger late. We’re often still chatting with potential clients, and the booths around us are all packed up.
Don’t miss any opportunity to talk about your photography. That’s why you’re there. Prepare for a long day . . . and bring some breath mints.
You simply have to talk with everyone you can. You will find the connections that you can make at a bridal show absolutely incredible. You must take (and make) time to network. Yes, you are there to connect with brides and grooms, but you absolutely need to chat with the show organizers, magazine editors, venues, and other vendors too. Those are important relationships that, for us, have resulted in booking weddings, magazine features, and invitations to open houses. They are your tribe!
Once you’ve done your research and crunched the numbers, we also recommend that you talk to other photographers who have attended bridal shows on your radar prior to signing up. Collect feedback on experiences and share some of your ideas. Do we think bridal shows are for every photographer? Nope. But you won’t likely know if they’re for you or not if you don’t give one a try!
Have questions? Do you have bridal show experience and have some awesome tips to share? Let’s chat! Leave a comment below!
Amii & Andy (Sunshine & Reign Photography) are destination wedding photographers based in Arizona. Their images and articles have been featured in notable blogs and print magazines, and they’re also authors at SLR Lounge. They love being married to each other, they have 5 kids, and when they aren’t shooting weddings, Amii & Andy are usually either working out in their garage, practicing archery, or planning their next road trip. Their goal is to document love in the most epic way. To see more of Amii & Andy's work, visit them here.
When you are finished with your photo session or wedding, do you feel a bit like that guy that was recently dragged off the airplane, semi-conscious and bleeding? Because that is basically what it feels like when you’ve lost control of your clients.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to reclaim the power.