Hi everybody,

I just did my first bridal show here in California and I posted that fact. I've been getting other vendors contacting me about my experience so I thought I would just post my response to those who are interested. I really learned a lot and have since benefited from a booking...YAY! The upshot is that I signed up again for another show. 

It's been a month since the show and I got 35 leads and have booked a bride already.
Now I have to tell you that this was my first bridal show ever and never been to one before. I don't recommend that. I should've been to one before I participated. But never mind now.
My booth was nothing to write home about. Basically a table a pipe and a drape with a cheesy sign they supplied with my company name on it. But I added my books and had 3 large canvases along the back to block the  black drape. The other photographers spent thousands on their booth and in the beginning I was nervous. However what drew a lot of brides was my sample books and I had some matted prints on an easel. I got a lot of compliments on my books, they are from Kiss so they are very simple. They liked my designs and admired how clean they looked. The other guys had big cotour, and other really high end albums. I got a feeling that the market these brides were in were a more simple type and budget conscious group.
How I got their information was that i gave away a PF Changs gift card for only $25 (which still hasn't been claimed by the winner). By the end of the day i had 35 names and email addresses. i also included 3 questions just for my own curiosity. 1. when are you getting married 2. Do you have a wedding photographer 3. Do you plan on hiring a photographer today.
I think if you are going to engage that many brides you should at least get some inside info...right?

Ok I was glad that I put together a "show special" because that is what they expect. One of the most valuable feedback of the day from a bride was that she liked how I had everything there that was in the package. They could see and talk to the actual photographer; feel, smell and look at the actual album that was offered. I think this goes a long way with people when they can see what they are buying. As I learned later, some photographers were only there to push their associates on the brides or with the condition that if they double booked that they reserved the right to send a "qualified" associate. The other issue was that even though the were displaying the high end stuff the actual album in the package was not there or they had to swing by the studio....yada yada yada.

In the end I met my goal. I wanted to get in front and talk with 2 dozen brides. I wasn't concerned about booking anything this time. I just wanted to talk. And I did, and I met some really cool people.
Even though I didn't have the fancy booth (and it was in the darkest part of the hall), I realized that a lot of that can be made up for by just being cool and being really interested in what they are going through. Also by having lots of samples in different sizes colors and formats and having real stuff that they are going to buy so there is no feeling of bait-n-switch.
I did book somebody so I'll do another one in January. What I'll do differently is...
...Have plenty of samples of ethnic brides (somebody asked me if I even shoot ethnic brides...wow! you wouldn't learn that in photo school)
...Add a spot for a phone number on my drawing forms
... Not bring any contracts. Very few brides stated that they would hire that day.
.... Have a little something to give them as a thank you gift. little bag of  jelly bellies with one of my "life is sweet" stickers.
.....Maybe a finely crafted brochure (not sure about this they can be very expensive.)

Anyway I hope that you can take away some useful information form my lengthy synopsis...sorry.
If you have any questions, let me know.
Also, I would love to hear about your experience when you do your show.

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sounds like you had a very successful show! congrats. i am prepping for a January show myself and am thinking that I'll be doing a give away other than a free engagement session. Which is what a lot of the photogs do. thanks for sharing I'll keep in mind what you've done and share what works for me in January! aloha
Great info, thanks for sharing!

We are thinking of going to our first bridal show, so this really helps.
I was JUST wondering whether to take the plunge on a show. Great advice, I feel more confident now!

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