I first met with the owners of my favorite bridal fair, the St. Louis Bride and Groom Wedding Show, towards the end of 2017. They had a reputation for being super picky about their vendors AND more conservative with who they allowed in.
They didn’t have any boudoir photographers yet, and they were iffy about letting one in. The owner wanted to meet with me to make sure that my business aligned with their show. We met up at Panera one morning. I showed her a few of my albums and what exactly I offered. It was definitely an interview to see if I would be allowed in, and thankfully I ended up making the cut!
… and she promised me I would be the only boudoir photographer at the show.
The first one was definitely the best one.
That first bridal fair I was able to attend, I had a great booth. It was right in the middle of several awesome vendors and had quite a bit of traffic. When all was said and done, and I had sent out my email marketing to all the attendees, I ended up booking SEVENTEEN SESSIONS!
All from this one wedding show.
This company ended up retiring I think in 2019. I think I attended three St.louis Bride and Groom shows in total. They were by far the best shows and I definitely feel I lucked into finding them. Wedding shows are a lot of work, but every time I’ve been to one, even the not so good ones, I’ve booked sessions.
The second show I went to, I was in a corner booth, but in a low traffic area. I STILL ended up booking nine sessions. This company put in the work to make sure that qualified leads sign up and actually show up.
Six Factors To Consider To Rock Your Next Bridal Fair
Let me tell you exactly how I booked those seventeen sessions from that first bridal fair, so that hopefully you can do the same at your first or next wedding show.
If brides aren’t your ideal client, don’t book a bridal fair.
There are other types of vendor fairs besides wedding shows or a bridal fair. When I moved to St. Louis, I was hungry. I went to anything I could and was able to 1-2 book sessions from even the smaller vendor shows with a total of 150 women attending at the most.
You’re also able to collect emails, which adds to your email list. That’s ALWAYS a perk for me and my marketing strategy.
A good place to look for these types of vendor fairs is Google, obviously, and I also checked Eventbrite and even Instagram. Check in like 1-2 times a month and book a few of them just to see how they go. The smaller ones are usually less than $100 to attend and can be run in a similar way to bridal fairs with WAY less time commitment.
Do your research.
Not all bridal fairs are created equal. Some are just not good at all. Some promise a lot, but don’t deliver.
Also, watch your contracts when you sign up. I signed a contract that had the box checked to sign up for next year to get a discount… and ended up paying for a booth at a bridal fair I didn’t attend.
Here are a few things to look for when you’re researching your bridal fairs.
- I want to be the exclusive boudoir photographer if possible. If it isn’t possible, I want there to be a maximum of three. If the bridal fair isn’t limiting the vendors to have a good variety of different types, they likely aren’t worried about the types of brides they’re bringing in either.
- The price of the booth should reflect the number of attendees. I’m not paying premium booth prices with a small number of attendees.
Your bridal fair booth set up
Booth set up is extremely important. You want to be as memorable to those who walk by your booth as your are to the ones who come in and chat with you.
- Make sure it’s on brand with your business.
- Bring lots of LARGE photos of work that brides can picture themselves in or just want to be.
- Grab your best albums. These albums need to be of women who are like these brides. They need to feel like the images could be them.
- Host a giveaway.
- Don’t forget a show special.
Getting brides IN your booth.
The goal for these bridal fairs is to get brides to spend some time in your booth. We want them to see your work, meet you, fall in love with your personality, and ultimately, book a session.
If you want my bridal fair secret weapon, join the waitlist for my upcoming mastermind! I’m not kidding about this secret weapon, either, it REALLY works. My brides STILL talk about it and I haven’t done a bridal fair in three years.
A few of my not so secret secrets.
- Hand out something other than business cards. Everyone will have business card sized business cards. You need to stand out from the crowd.
- Have something they would love to have in the back of the booth. One year, mine was a cute lip gloss.
- Ask EVERYONE who walks by to sign up for the giveaway.
For my boudoir photographers, realize that some brides are more conservative. Some come with their inlaws. The last thing they want to talk about is something like boudoir in front of their family.
I’ve had MANY clients who email me after the bridal fair saying they wanted to talk to me while they were there, but their mother-in-law was right beside them. They had their sister or a friend come back and get my information.
Automate as much as you can.
For bridal fairs, I always tell my coaching clients to use QR codes for both the giveaway AND to sign up for sessions.
Basically, you have two large printouts in your booth with different sets of information. One will have QR code for the giveaway sign up. The other is a QR code for the show special.
I didn’t do this because my last bridal fair was in 2019 and I didn’t know how to use QR codes. After the show, I spent HOURS typing in (and trying to read the handwriting) of hundreds of sign ups.
In 2022, it will be soooo much faster with all the automations.
Use the email lists!
If I could sign up for a bridal fair without attending, I would sign up for every. single. one. in St. Louis just to get my hands on the email list..
The email list was how I was able to book the seventeen sessions at my first bridal fair. I took advantage of the list and sent the special offer immediately.
Bridal fairs can be discouraging.
You’re talking to everyone, exhausted, overwhelmed, hot, your feet hurt, and you know you have to break your booth down in a few hours. You probably haven’t even booked a single session.
I want you to know most bookings don’t come at the bridal fair.
They come from the email list.
Don’t panic. Keep a smile on your face and know in your heart that you’re going to book sessions when you get your hands on the email list.
You’ve got this.