Making the Most of a Wedding Fair

Making the Most of a Wedding Fair

Attending your first wedding fair can be pretty daunting.

What do you want to find out? Who do you need to speak to? How are you going to avoid all those stall-holders vying for your attention? What are you expecting to get out of the visit?

National or local fair?

Each wedding fair is different. You may choose to go to a huge national event (such as the National Wedding Show), where everything is on a vast scale. It will be noisy, busy, pressurised and demanding; however, you can expect every sort of supplier there, so you may possibly be able to resolve all your concerns on the spot.

Alternatively, you can attend smaller wedding fairs. They are usually organised by a wedding planner or else by the venue, often a hotel licensed for weddings. Attendance will vary, but, unlike thousands for a national fair, hundreds – or just a hundred, or even fifty– visitors will typically pass through in the day.

There may – or may not – be a bridal fashion parade as part of the event. If you choose well, you may get offered a drink and canapés on the house, which is always nice. There’s normally a ‘goody bag’ too.

By the way, the same wedding fair will not be the same this time as it was last time around. Weather, different stall-holders, punters – anything – may affect the atmosphere.

A national show will offer a vast array of photographers, cake-makers, florists etc. to choose from; however, you can expect a (much smaller) choice of suppliers at the local wedding fairs. Sometimes, these are vetted by the host venue, but not necessarily.

At a national event, where they will be crowds, you may not be given the time to ask the questions you want addressed. (Of course, you can take a card and contact the supplier later.) At a local event, you should get the chance to have a reasonably undisturbed chat with the stall-holder.

How do I make the most of a fair?

Your expectations will depend on your reasons for attending a show. In other words, if you’ve just got engaged and this is your first fair, you’re probably looking for ideas only at this stage. A more seasoned visitor may be targeting certain suppliers, and can be pretty precise about what he/she needs to find out.

Either way, don’t be bamboozled, especially when you arrive. You may find that the room or rooms are large, animated, possibly with flashing lights etc. and music playing. The room is meant to be a feast for the senses – and the number and variety of stall-holders adds to it. Imagine a middle-eastern bazaar, and you’ll get the picture.

If you can come prepared (even with notes) as to what you want and need, you can make the most of the fair. Suppliers will try and entice you to stop at their stall (either by engaging you in conversation or by offering a freebie). Don’t do what some people do, which is refuse to make eye contact and sneak through without talking to anybody. You don’t know what you might be missing.

The supplier is not going to be nasty to you – or force you into parting with money. Moreover, you may learn something of potential significance to you. They are professionals, after all, and helping you is likely to be in their interests!

In my experience, people have rarely considered a civil celebrant like myself until we chat, and many will get excited about the unexpected extra dimension that is available to them.

Of course, you can come to a wedding fair to enjoy yourself – they’re usually a great show, with fabulous displays – but the best thing is to come with an open mind. Engage with the stall-holders. Have a cheery chat. Make notes or take photos, if you want to remember certain things. If you’re not interested, politely move on. You won’t upset the supplier: he/she does not expect every encounter to represent business!

The aftermath

You’ll receive a load of flyers and stuff in the goody bag. A good idea is to go through this when you get home (before you forget everything that was said to you!) and eliminate what you’re sure is irrelevant. (Do this at least before visiting your next fair!)

If there’s anything that stood out positively, don’t leave it long before contacting the supplier. They may get booked up, of course, but bear in mind that, as time goes by, you are likely to forget what attracted you in the first place.

So go to a fair in a positive mindset. Nobody will be expecting you to buy on the spot (although this may actually happen). Just go, enjoy, chat and listen. Have an open mind. You never know what pearls you may emerge with!



Old Sarum handfasting

Old Sarum handfasting

It’s all go!

What a busy few days for me (but I’m not complaining!)!

In addition to a handfasting wedding last Saturday and no fewer than two funerals in one day next Friday, I have a Wedding Show (Harrow Arts Centre) to look forward to on Sunday. I’ve commissioned a lovely floral display for my stand, so I’m hoping to be able to show a few pictures in my next blog.

The Handfasting

But it’s last weekend that I’d like to talk about, when I conducted a handfasting on Old Sarum.

The Setting

The setting was spectacular. We were allocated a lovely rectangular grassy spot in the Castle ruins, overlooking, as well as a flooded plain, the ruins of the old cathedral.

Having an outdoor ceremony the last weekend of January on an exposed hilltop with the winter we’ve been having might be said to be tempting providence. I had to drive through heavy rain for a couple of hours the evening before to get to Wiltshire, so I feared the worst. Then my arrival home after the ceremony coincided with thunder, lightning and hailstones! So what about the intervening spell?

The Weather

Miraculously, it was dry – in fact, the sun came out for quite a time – and unseasonably warm. I did eventually get cold, as I was up there early, to set up the space, and the wedding party arrived half an hour late, but to spend two hours, as I did, up there without ill effects was quite remarkable. I had a close encounter with a hawk (wondering if it was a vulture, preparing to feast on my frozen body!).

The Ceremony

The ceremony was part-pagan, part-Jewish, which is original, if nothing else! The rituals included representatives of the four elements blessing the couple, the handfasting itself, the bride walking round the groom seven times and the breaking of a glass underfoot.

I’m delighted to say that it was much enjoyed by all and I’m looking forward to my next one.

Never a dull moment as a celebrant – just one of the perks of the job.

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.

Spirits not dampened at Wedding Fair!

Spirits not dampened at Wedding Fair!

As readers here will know, I was looking forward with anticipation (and a little trepidation, in truth) to exhibiting at my first ever Wedding Fair last Sunday.

The Venue

A lovely venue stood ready at Henry’s Café-Bar, West India Docks. Canapes and sparkling wine were in evidence. A talented violinist played. Stall-holders displayed fabulous wedding-cakes (yes, I did manage to scrounge some samples!), stretch-limos, John Lewis wedding books, glorious wedding wear, photography, post-dinner entertainments, flowers; there was a resplendent toastmaster – forgive me, if I’ve forgotten any others.

So everything was in place for a fabulously successful fair.

The Weather

Unfortunately, this was London. And it rained. In fact, the rain poured down almost all the time we were there, and you had to be really determined or foolhardy to be out in it. As a result, visitor numbers were down considerably.

My assessment

Those that came seemed to enjoy themselves, and clearly got a lot out of their visit. I am not really sure how effective my ‘patter’ was, but I enjoyed talking to people as they came through. Time will tell.

Obviously, though, there could be no question whose stand was the best …!

civil celebrant at wedding fair

Virtually nobody had heard of “independent celebrant”, which means that, although I may be in a niche area, there is not much awareness of what I do out there, so taking advantage of it will not be challenging.

At least, those I talked to seem now to understand that they can have a personalised ceremony (which I would conduct on the day), and several seemed to be quite excited by the idea. So perhaps it was not such a bad thing for me to have braved the elements after all!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.