Getting the Most out of Wedding Fairs

Getting the Most out of Wedding Fairs

I have attended around 30 wedding fairs in my time. As a supplier, rather than a potential groom, I might add.

However, I have observed!

Of course, no two fairs will be identical, but there are certain commonalities that are worth noting.

The beetles

There are always people who are uncomfortable at wedding fairs. They avoid eye contact with exhibitors. Like insects, they scuttle round the room as quickly as possible, keeping to the centre of the aisle and doing their best to ignore any attempts from exhibitors to start a conversation.

As a shy person myself, I understand where they are coming from. However, why have they decided to give up an hour or two, if not to get a few ideas? How will they get these ideas, if not by engaging with the stallholder?


Stallholders are rarely monsters. Sure, they initiate conversations – and we were all warned not to talk to strangers, weren’t we? But these suppliers are experts in their field. They are worth talking to.

They are not going to compel you to part with cash just because you have spoken with them. They will certainly not threaten you.

They may ask for your e-mail details, say. This will be in return for entry to a prize draw or sending a freebie to you. Even if you supply your details and then decide you don’t want to work with them, GDPR will be on your side. You can always request them to stop corresponding with you.


What the exhibitors will do is inform and advise you – you may get some really good tips (for free!) from them.

They will be lovely to you! They want your custom, so they are not going to be rude or abrupt. The ideal for them is that you realise that they are out there and offer something you might want and/or need. They want you to like and trust them. They are more likely to turn on a charm offensive. They’ll also want you to be aware of how competent and professional they are in their field.

Moreover, they know that, even if you aren’t going to buy their product or use their service, you might just know somebody else who will, so they aren’t going to have a hissy fit if you declare you’re not interested.

The couples who seem to get the most out of wedding fairs are happy to spend time with each exhibitor (or the majority) and ask plenty of questions. They can gain a picture of whether or not the exhibitor can meet their needs or wants, and whether they are a supplier they would be excited to work with.

If you come across me at a wedding fair, please have a chat. Find out what a civil celebrant can really offer. I’m really not nasty, and – who knows? – you might be impelled to explore personalised ceremonies further.

But if you don’t want to wait till the next wedding fair, just give me a call or an e-mail!

Eight Ways to Make the Most of Wedding Fairs

Eight Ways to Make the Most of Wedding Fairs

Being on the other side of the fence at wedding fairs, I tend to note all sort of reactions from visitors. Of course, some are attending their very first show and are unsure what to expect; others may be attending for very specific purposes (it could be to see the venue or find a photographer, for example). I suppose some might be there for the freebies!

However, there is potentially a lot to take in and it can be a bit overpowering. I therefore offer a few tips that may help you get the most out of the experience.

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  • Arrive early. It tends to be less crowded then – and you are more likely to get freebies!


  • Unless you’re focussed on finding just one particular supplier, such as a cake-maker, try and be methodical and cover all the aisles. You never know what you might otherwise miss.


  • Don’t worry that stallholders will try and engage you. They won’t be offended if you’re not interested in their services; be curious, though. If you’re looking for ideas, they may have something to offer that you hadn’t expected. For example, quite a few people don’t know what a civil celebrant like myself offers, and are glad they stopped to chat.


  • Make the experience as pleasant as possible. Do exchange smiles with others, even if you walk away with nothing from the stallholders. You may spend longer at the fair than you’re expecting; you may be on your feet a long time. You may also end up with quite a bit to carry (there are usually goody bags, in addition to flyers you may pick up along the way), so try not to encumber yourselves before you even arrive. Maybe avoid surplus clothing, depending on the weather outside. And do at least wear comfortable shoes. Bring some bottled water, so you don’t dehydrate.


  • Be prepared to ask questions and to listen. This is an information-gathering exercise, so don’t feel inhibited. By all means, be prepared to make notes as you go through. You can also gain a useful snapshot of the enthusiasm and professionalism of your would-be supplier. You’re going to want to know you’ll feel a rapport with me, if I am to be creating your wedding ceremony and conducting it on the day!


  • Collect cards and flyers from vendors. When you leave the show, you will probably feel overwhelmed and tired, and may not remember who told you what. This way you’ll be able to follow up with any supplier you want to. Incidentally, if you have a business card yourself (or prepare your own label), you can leave it with a supplier whom you want to contact you, and save time.


  • There may be a fashion show. That can give you some good ideas, but if you’re already sorted with your dress, this might be a quiet and more relaxed time to visit the stalls instead.


  • There will be things on sale you might not be expecting and opportunities to sign up with suppliers at special prices, so it may be as well to bring your wallet with you. And if you have a camera, you can take a snap to remind you at a later date what attracted you.


Meet the Celebrant!

My next wedding fair is on Sunday, 17th May at the prestigious Compleat Angler, Marlow. My book “Your Wedding Guide” will be available to purchase at my stand, and I’d be delighted to meet you and answer any questions you may have about conventional ceremonies or handfastings, say. (If you tell me you’ve come along as a result of this article, I’ll offer you 10% off any ceremony you may book with me!)

Why do a Wedding Fair?

Last Sunday I was indoors, exhibiting at the Wedding Fair at Preston Cross Hotel, Great Bookham. Yet it was another glorious Spring day. I could have been in the garden or with my family in the countryside. But no.

For me it was the last wedding show of the season. For the second consecutive sunny Sunday, I spent four hours standing in a hall, trying to attract the interest of people who mostly had no idea why they should even want to speak to me.

As well as travel and time, I have to pay for my stand, so it’s not a cheap pastime (even if I sometimes gain by striking up partnerships with other splendid business-owners also exhibiting).

So why do I do it?


Firstly, personal relationships are the life-blood of the wedding  business. In an ideal world, if you are getting married, you want your ceremony to be absolutely perfect. If you’ve never met your celebrant before the day, there’s not much chance to build a rapport. That can affect your levels of stress and enjoyment.

And if you have met the officiant already, you need to be sure that you have confidence in, and are happy with, him/her (for the same reasons).

Spreading the Word

Secondly, most people have never heard of civil celebrants and don’t know what we can offer. I attend fairs because I want to increase awareness. Brides and grooms mostly  have little idea that they can have a bespoke ceremony created for them and conducted by someone like me. They would really appreciate the freedom of choice, but simply don’t know that it’s out there. Just by being present, I can extend to them that choice, and answer some of their questions on the spot.

Meeting Each Other

Thirdly, let me stress again the importance of personal relationships. Better than my website, than my YouTube video, than my Facebook page, than my blogs is actually meeting people in the flesh. They have a chance, from the outset, to speak to me face-to-face and decide whether they even want to consider working with me. If they don’t like me, there’s no point them embarking on the process with me!

So I consider that wedding fairs are an important investment to make.

Of course, I now have to fill my time before the season restarts in September!

Good news

I’m delighted to report that I have some bookings to sustain me. Next week alone, I have the contrasting ceremonies of a funeral and a Vow Renewal to conduct. I’m particularly looking forward to the latter, as it’s a bishop and his wife who are renewing their vows in a Mayfair hotel after 20 years’ marriage. Should be such a joyous event!

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

Winning at Wedding Fairs

If you’re not learning things in business every day, something is probably not right. I’m relatively new, so I am at risk of being engulfed! Be that as it may, I’d like to share some of my recent experiences here. Perhaps they may benefit some of my readers, even those with a far wiser head than mine. Even if they are not Independent Civil Celebrants like me!

The Wedding Fair

It was my pleasure to exhibit at the Middlesex & Bucks. Wedding Show at the Bull Hotel, Gerrards Cross on Sunday. The weather was quite welcoming (for much of the day, anyway!) and the venue certainly was. The atmosphere was lovely and the Show well-organised and well-attended. I think most people who came felt it was worthwhile and enjoyable.

I too enjoyed it and made some potentially valuable contacts both in the room and from passing couples.

So what did I learn?


  1. The first thing is not to stay rooted behind your table. If you are not active in ‘grabbing’ people, then some will go past, and they might be the very people who would go love your service, if they only knew about it.
  2. Be pro-active. Greet the visitor cheerily. Initiating a conversation with strangers is not always easy (tell me about it!), but try things out. “Are you enjoying the show?” seemed a good ice-breaker for me, but two people just said, “Yes, thank you” and rushed on by, so I needed to try other approaches.
  3. I know these events are tiring, but don’t stay on your chair, especially when people are passing through. And texting hardly gives the right impression!
  4. Try and avoid leaving your stand untenanted (difficult for me, as I was on my own). A few possible clients came through when it was lunchtime, but several stalls were deserted. I picked up one potential client because I was prepared to stand up and abandon my delicious sandwich!
  5. Unless it’s really dead, stay to the bitter end. A lot of people were packing away fifteen minutes before the advertised end, but I gained an interested contact in the final five minutes.
  6. Get to know other businesses in the room. Apart from possible collaboration at a later date, you may be able to help each other. I was next to a flower arranger, who, generously lent me a couple of displays for my (very bare!) table. (In return, I’m looking to buy some product from her.) We now each have the other on our suppliers’ lists.
  7. If you build up a relationship with your neighbour, they may be able to direct you people you might otherwise miss. A photographer and neighbouring beauty expert regularly passed each other leads – “Oh,  now you really must speak to X here.”
  8. Finally, but crucially, don’t forget to smile. Your goal is to attract people!

I have two more Wedding Fairs to look forward to in February: Harrow Arts Centre on 2nd February and Sir Christopher Wren Hotel, Windsor on 16th February. I intend to profit from the lessons learned. Maybe I’ll see you at one of these? If not, I’ll let you know how I get on!

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