How I Finally Learned to Love a Wedding Show

Wedding shows…ugh…the traditional wedding marketing event that many wedding vendors love to hate and hate to love. Count me as one of those “many vendors.”

I finally loved one though. As in…REALLY loved one! The approach to it was radically different than any show I’d ever participated in before. Today’s post focuses on what took place and why I viewed it as such a success.

My past experience with wedding shows has brought about mixed success. I have received wedding bookings from some of them, but my love for the show itself — the preparation, the setup, the day itself — hasn’t always brought me as much joy as I would have liked.

To this point, the primary reason I had participated in wedding shows was because of the wonderful communal feel that comes from seeing all of my wedding vendor friends that work in my region. I get along well with everyone (yes, even the other DJs!) and love to get in short visits with these people at a wedding show.

In preparation for the Westman Wedding Expo earlier this year, I happened to have a conversation with Stacey Gabriel of Stacey Gabriel Photography (formerly Stacey Luce Photography; she got married!) and mentioned that I wanted to have my booth next to hers because we love to have fun together and really appreciate each others work. Next thing you know, we started brainstorming ideas and in the end, produced this:

We removed the wall between our booths and in its place, setup a coffee and cookie station. The coffee was a massive hit and the cookies, even more so. We enlisted another wedding friend, Brett from Well Dressed Cakes, to create custom cookies for us with our logos. The coffee cups also had our logos on them; Stacey’s logo was on one side of the cup, mine for Special Request Weddings was on the other side.

Our booths were also designed to have a similar look and feel. We both used the same wood wall backdrop and we rented a single piece of 10’ x 20’ carpet, as opposed to two single 10’ x 10’ pieces. We wanted people walking by to question what it was they were seeing. The hope was that this would affect the type of conversation we would have with brides and grooms.

The results from this collaboration were remarkable.

1) When people approached me to begin a conversation, I would first tell them about Stacey and the remarkable photography she produces. This led to a “less pressure” conversation about what it was that I did. Stacey carried out conversations in a similar manner. This enabled us to use the incredible value of “word of mouth” marketing right inside our booths as we talked about each other first and ourselves second.

2) The social media attention we received because of our cookies was awesome. In fact, Brett from Well Dressed Cakes even posted a teaser photo of the cookies to her Instagram account ahead of the show. She tagged both Stacey Gabriel Photography and Special Request Weddings in that post. If you know anything about how much attention the typical cake baker has on Instagram, you know this is a big deal. While these cookies cost us a lot more than more traditional options would have, the extra money was easily worth the social media attention we received as a result.

3) The coffee cups with our logos helped to keep our names top of mind around the wedding show. I remember another DJ friend, Rhoni from Trident Music Inc., humorously telling me that he was speaking with a potential bride at the wedding show when he noticed her coffee cup…and there was my logo staring him in the face! (Thankfully, he’s a good friend, so there weren’t any hard feelings!)

4) The very idea that Stacey and I worked together to create a unique experience for everyone that saw us that day also communicated to our potential customers that we both love being team players. Rather then coming off as the slightly isolated type of person that DJs are sometimes viewed as, this projected the complete opposite. Trust is maybe the single largest part of people’s purchasing decisions and the trust Stacey and I have for each other was on full display that day.

5) The “party square” created around the cookie and coffee station also played host to impromptu dance parties and many wedding vendors came over for a visit and a coffee. This created a very positive energy and attention for our booth(s).

Both Stacey and I booked work from this wedding show and, in part, credit our collaboration for accomplishing that. In every interaction of ridiculous fun, Stacey and I were essentially auditioning. We were giving them (people) an idea of what working with us looks like.

Having really cool cookies at a wedding show has now widely become known in this region as Dave & Stacey’s thing to do. We are already hard at work figuring out what next years sweet treat design will look like!

There you have it…collaborate with a wedding vendor friend whose work compliments your own and think outside the box for what that collaboration might look like. Don’t simply do what we did. Be creative!

If you were like me and struggled to really love wedding shows, I hope this post has helped inspire you. If you want to communicate your uniqueness to potential clients, do that with a uniquely creative approach to your wedding show booth experience.

Stacey and I are already working on plans for the next show in February 2018. We are brainstorming what things will look like and new ways to change up the experience for everyone who comes to visit us.

For all of the details on that…stay tuned…

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8 thoughts on “How I Finally Learned to Love a Wedding Show”

  1. Great stuff…as usual. Already have a vendor in mind to ask about working together at a show coming up in January.

    Do you make appointments at the show or collect their information and follow up a day or two afterwards? And if you follow up are you calling them just like you do in your post “Getting Face Time” or sending out an email campaign.

    1. I do very little followup (with, for instance, a bride/groom list that I collect or that the show provides). I figure if I didn’t make enough of an impression at the show, I don’t deserve a meeting with them. 🙂 As for taking appointments, that is a correct guess. I have my calendar available at the show and will setup consult times with people from the wedding show.

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