This past Sunday (October 11th) we participated in our first bridal show at the Siouxland Wedding Expo 2015. Let me start by saying I have never been to a bridal show in my life! Let me also say that we just learned about this bridal show no sooner than a month earlier, so preparations were a bit chaotic! We got to work brainstorming, poring over Pinterest and Instagram pages of booths, and reading up on what to do and not to do at wedding shows.
Ultimately, we got a pretty clear idea in our minds of what we wanted it to look like with: café bulb lights hanging over a cozy little space with gorgeous, unique flowers displayed on our vintage furniture in a modern, on-trend way. We also decided we wanted something to draw brides into our booth in addition to our beautiful flowers and cozy décor. Team Honeysuckle Hollow (Mercedes, Summer, and Vanessa) came up with the best idea! We ran across a picture of a selfie backdrop in a booth. Because selfies are a part of everyday life for many, we thought, why not give them a decorated backdrop to take their picture as a memory of the bridal expo. We thought this would get them to stay a while and interact with us (and were we ever right!). We found a vintage door for a backdrop and decided to add the lure of a few flower crowns that they could try on for the picture. I mean, who doesn’t like to wear a flower crown, right?
In addition to completing our plans for the booth, we also scrambled to finish our website so that it would be up and running for prospective brides to check us out. We went live with the website with just two days to spare. It is simple but informative, and we hope it will leave any passerby with an idea of our unique style and offerings. As it turns out, it was a great deadline to get everything up and going.
I spent a great deal of time hemming and hawing over what to order and what types of bouquets to create for the fair. Ultimately I decided on two classic styles of roundish bouquets (but with all sorts of spectacular, unique flowers, berries, foliage and such) and two bouquets with the more recent trend of an airy, horizontal, wild look.
I began by driving almost three hours to Harvest Home Flowers, a local flower farm, to get some special, local goodies including the most fragrant tuberose EVER. I also ordered in a ton of unique roses, with high petal counts, rich fragrances, and unique colors to make these bouquets really special and draw people’s attention. When they came in, I let the roses open up for a few days in my front, sunny window. When I came into the shop, the day before the show, I was mesmerized and wasted half my time taking portraits of the roses because they were so wide-open and glorious!
As the day of the bridal expo dawned, we all loaded our trucks and vans full of furniture and flowers from the shop and got to the Stoney Creek Inn where it was to be held. Of course, on the way, a delivery van died in the middle of the road with all the flowers and we had to run and pick up a substitute and transfer all the flowers. It seems there are always a few bumps in the road with events and you just bounce over them and get on with it. So we arrived to find this…
We were a bit shocked as it was not as we had imagined. It was a very small area, and no sides or top! Team Honeysuckle Hollow, however, pulled through and designed the most darling, inviting booth ever.
We received many compliments on our set up and had tons of brides pour through during the day. The selfie backdrop was a smashing hit with a long line of brides waiting to take a picture in a whimsical flower crown. It was probably the best thing we did, in addition to creating a super cute booth with some gorgeous flowers to display. The only problem….for the next show we must come up with another creative idea - other vendors at the expo liked the concept so much they said they were going to do something like it in their booths next time!!
All in all, it was a great day. We sat down and dove into the delicious carrot cake we had for displaying flowers and reminisced happily about the busy day. It was wonderful to be able to see our ideas come to life and really appeal to the Brides. Many brides scheduled consults with us from the Expo - it was truly a success!
If you are a floral designer, we have compiled the list below of suggestions when participating in your first bridal show booth (the things we wished someone would have told us):
Get a booth with electricity. It was wonderful to have the café bulb lights strung up. They added a warm glow and wonderful touch to the booth, even if we were only able to string a few up.
Ask a lot of questions before hand about the dimensions of the booth but be prepared for it to look totally different when you show up. Pack your cars full with props and just take out what you need when you get there.
When you get there, take a moment and wander around to the other vendors to introduce yourself and hand out cards. We waited until the end to do this but some of these vendors are pros and they had their booth down and loaded in less than 20 minutes, which meant we missed them. They are important people to network with, so don’t miss the chance. Be friendly and outgoing, and be someone they want to work with. They are more likely to refer you to their own customers if they want to team up with you in the future.
Make the booth a place you would like to spend time in. Chances are if you create an inviting space, people will want to linger.
Use flowers with fragrances to draw people in and entice them to look at the flowers. So many of the brides are in a hurry racing from booth to booth, but we found having unique flowers and ones with scents wafting out into the public drew people in to admire them.
Create an interactive corner of your booth that will draw people in, give them a positive, memorable experience, and keep them in your space long enough to talk to. (We used the floral crown selfie area which was great!).
Offer to let the fashion show models carry your bouquets. Everyone is seated for the fashion show and as long as the announcer makes a point to highlight your flowers, people will see them in the hands of a bride and come back to your booth to look at your designs with renewed enthusiasm.
Have plenty of help. There were four of us working the booth, including my 12 year old daughter, and we needed all of us. One person to help put on flower crowns, one to punch the cards people were bringing around to vendors, and two to talk with the people stopping in.
Have a website, cards, and brochures (we didn’t think of brochures). Most vendors at the bridal shows have brochures with photos and information, and the brides walk around collecting them. We shall have new ones for our next show for sure!
Consider offering a separate drawing in your booth for something fun, or a discount on their wedding flowers. This brings them into the booth and keeps them there, while filling writing down their information. Everyone loves something free. While one person is filling out the form, the other (often a mother of the bride) is standing there just waiting to be talked to about your flowers.
Research the different bridal shows in your area, and call around to ask other, more experienced, vendors in your wedding market (cake makers, photographers, tuxedo rentals, etc.) which bridal shows are the best to attend. It takes a lot of effort and money to do a booth, so it should be at a worthwhile show!
All in all we had a wonderful experience and enjoyed entertaining brides in our cute little space that we were proud of. It was so satisfying to see our ideas come together to create just what guests were hoping for! Thank you to my dear Honeysuckle Hollow team for putting this new experience under our belt in such a successful manner.