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Well, we did it! We ventured into the world of wedding fairs (or fayres, we’re never sure either). After visiting loads different wedding fairs when we were looking to get married and a few more to decide on where to do our first one as wedding photographers. We finally plumped for the Bailgate Wedding Fayre in Lincoln. The Bailgate wedding fair takes place over a series of beautiful Lincoln wedding venues & showcases amazing Lincolnshire wedding suppliers.

We made our first mistake before we arrived. We finally finished our hand made, beautiful new background. After hours of nailing, sanding, screwing (and occasionally swearing), we were ready to load the van. We pushed the first section into the back of the van (having been assured by Dad that they would fit) and we could not shut the door. Luckily after trying to arrange a way to hire a bigger van or to split the background down, Dad came to the rescue with his trusty trailer (aren’t parents brilliant!) and we were ready to go.

We met many amazing couples during the day in Lincoln and we witnessed the whole range of emotions, from mind blown bride-to-be in blind panic at the amount of things still to do, through to grooms-to-be with an air of I have no idea why I am here, I thought I just needed to sort the playlist (incidentally, they were how myself and Carl approached wedding fairs).

Having spent the day talking with many amazing couples about their weddings, we thought we would share with you our top seven tips that we learnt during planning our own wedding.

Have a taste, have this flyer, have you thought about…  From the second you arrive at a wedding fair, the bombardment of questions never stops. People are pushing flyers & occasionally food at you (this is a good thing), trying to get you to notice them. if this is at the start of your planning stages, you may suddenly think to yourself “What on earth have you got yourself into?” There will be all sorts of weird and wonderful vendors, trying to sell you things you may have never even thought about.

Breathe. Remember, many of the things you see, you really don’t need. Especially at the early stages of your planning. The three things you need to concentrate on at the start of your planning are your date, your venue and your photographer. Many good photographers are booking up to two years in advance and if you really like a photographer’s style, it is always worth booking them. Photography is one of the few things that are left after the wedding day. When questioned by Rock N’ Roll Bride, brides said that wedding photography is the one thing they wished that had invested more in when questioned after their day.

THERE IS MORE TO THINK ABOUT THAN YOU THOUGHT (AND THAT’S OK)

Especially at your first wedding fair, you will suddenly realise that this planning a wedding thing is maybe a little more complicated than you first thought. Once this feeling sets in, you may begin to get the fear. What about chair coverings? I never even thought about balloons! What about this? Do I need???? You start to convince yourself that you need everything you see. The best solution is to take all the information you can and then after a lay down in a dark room, begin to think what is important to you both. Then, you can begin to think if there really is a need for those designer chair cushion and napkin combos or not. You will generally find not.

DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN WEDDING FAIR ONLY SPECIALS

Today only! The simple marketing gimmick to try and get you to sign up there and then. It is something that really should not figure into your day. Firstly, these specials are not normally all they are cracked up to be. Secondly, you need to make sure you explore your options before choosing any wedding supplier. Take your time and make the right decision.

SET UP A WEDDING ONLY EMAIL

Sign ups. Generally a great thing and some great little competitions are around on the day. We would advise though that you get a wedding email account made up for such occasions. Whilst many companies edit their lists of emails carefully, some will keep emailing you their offers, even after your special day. Having a wedding only email though has one, more major, advantage. Simply that all of your wedding details are in one specific email account. You have all your wedding planning in one place and it is easily searchable. A simple gmail account with your names & wedding is usually a great one. You can then even use the free google docs to make your wedding spreadsheets should you so desire.

DO SIGN UP TO THINGS

As above really. Make sure you sign up for competitions that you will find on the day, or sign up to find out more information about companies you are particularly interested in. You may win something cool and it also gives you some more info. If you use the wedding only email address we spoke of above, it also keeps any annoying email out of your day to day account, which is always a good thing!

A wedding fair display for 166 photography
After hours of sanding (and occasional swearing), this is our wedding fair setup

THERE IS TIME!

You can do it in whatever amount of time you have. Do not listen to vendors who tell you otherwise. While some take years planning their wedding, some like to do things more spontaneously and plan in less than a year. There is no right or wrong way to do things, there is your way and anyone who says different is wrong!

HOW TO SORT THROUGH THE AFTERMATH

the last tip is possibly the most important. How to deal with the mounds of brochures, flyers and other things you manage to pick up at a wedding fair. You will usually end up with bags full. This can be overwhelming, but a thing that we would recommend is as follows. Sit down with the whole bag and go through all the flyers and brochures, splitting them into three piles:

The Must Haves

These are the companies that impressed you the most. Any company you want to look further into and are your front runners go onto this pile.

The possibly/maybes. These are the companies that are ones that you quite like, but weren’t sure of. 

The Second Bests

The backup plan. These can come in really important if one of the suppliers in your must have pile are unavailable for your date. Sometimes the companies in this pile turn out to be the best decisions you make.

The Definite No 

The people you didn’t click with. The ones who didn’t match your style, were too pushy when you spoke to them, etc. These are the ones that head straight to the recycling bin. You will generally find this is by far the biggest pile and the one that makes up most of the weight you lugged around the wedding fair for hours.

From here, you should have a manageable pile of information that you can begin to work with. Get those planning books, spreadsheets or however you personally are planning and add these to it.

That’s it, you made it! Now to get over the shock before you do it all over again. If you see us at a wedding fair in the near future, drop by, say hello and grab some free sweets!

That’s it. Our top seven tips for wedding fairs. Did we miss something? Feel free to add to the list in the comments below. We look forward to seeing you at more wedding fairs around Lincolnshire in the near future. If you see us, drop, say hello and grab some free sweets.

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