3/14 Real Bride Alissa: Bridal Show Shenanigans

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Well, Chris, the girls and I went to our first bridal show, and it was certainly an experience. We’re still in the having- a-tentative-date-but-nothing-actually-planned phase, which is not my favorite place to be as a chronic planner. The bridal show was held at a big conference center in a town not too far from us, so we loaded up the girls and headed down. I had signed up for tickets ahead of time and registered as a bride, so we got a coupon for $2 off the door price, and Chris and I were both given a bag of goodies when we first walked in the door. Overall, I enjoyed it, but there were definitely some pros and cons to the experience.


  • You really get to see the variety of what’s out there in your area in terms of venues, photographers, caterers, florists and the all-important cake! It was great to see what a wedding on a golf course would look like versus one that’s lakeside, etc.
  • FREEBIES. We got to sample cake and catering, and most booths had free candy, pens or other small items to try and get you to their table (which made my kids the happiest kids on the planet). We also got coupons, including a $50 off coupon from David’s Bridal, and Chris got a couple of coupons for tuxes from various stores.
  • You get to talk to people and ask specific questions, which is definitely helpful when you have literally zero aspects of your wedding planned.
  • While it wasn’t pretty to see, it was definitely a good thing to see what venues cost and what they all include. I’ve been surprised to see how many venues don’t include food in their wedding packages, which means you have to add in the cost of a caterer.

Alissa visits a bridal show

I love me some free swag!


  • It was super crowded, which made talking to any of the vendors really hard to do. I know it’s not the place to sit and really get down to the nitty gritty of things, but it made more than a cursory “ok hi yes your venue is beautiful/your photos are amazing/oh yes I would love to try more of your cake” difficult to accomplish.
  • So. Much. Information. Yes, it’s definitely a good thing to have a ton of options, but for me at least, it got very overwhelming very fast. Yes, we need to get planning, but having so much information thrown at me started to get very panic-inducing.
  • It was hard to communicate with Chris, not only because we had the kids (which I don’t recommend, but it was my day so I didn’t have a choice, and they were very well behaved for being surrounded by people, free cake and candy) but because it’s hard to convey  “oh hell no, that is waaaaay out of our price range” through facial expressions with someone staring at you holding a glossy pamphlet. I don’t have much of a problem saying nope, no thank you and walking away (thank you New England), but my gracious Southern fiance has more of a problem with not wanting to appear rude.

Bridal show aftermath

So much information …

All in all, I think it was a good learning experience for both Chris and I. It helped him to see that there is a bit more planning involved in a wedding than he might have originally thought, and it helped me to narrow down what I do and don’t want in our wedding.

What were your takeaways from bridal shows? Did you learn anything about yourself and your wedding planning in the process?

  • The Charleston Wedding Show overwhelmed me. I went with my sister when I was her MOH and it was a totally different experience as a bride. We had most of our stuff figured out, but I figured YAY free swag! It was more like too many people, barely any food samples (which I could have used), and now I’m still dealing with amabillionty emails from all the vendors I tried to “win” free stuff from. :/

    Good luck planning!