Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bridal Shows: Free Cupcakes, A Lot of Fluff and Plenty of Frustration

I have a bit of a rant today, a rant about bridal shows.

I attended my one and only bridal show several months ago. I didn’t blog about it because the experience was a bit of a disappointment and I didn’t want to nit pick, but now as I begin to plan the details and try to collect some of the prizes, I am once again experiencing so negativity. This time, I am going to share.

Ladies, listen up. Bridal show prizes are not all they are cracked up to be. I mean I know we all like to win; and no one was more surprised than me when I won the second biggest prize at the bridal show I attended in February. Mom and I sat around for an hour after we were done looking, because we just knew that if we left that I’d miss out on a prize. We were right but as it turned out we wasted our time anyway.

I guess I should start with the show itself.

First off, the layout of the show was not very accessible. Which I’d expected since at least eighty percent of the people that find out I am getting married still look me up and down before offering their congratulations. It wasn’t too awful, some of the aisles were narrow and the seating for the fashion show was tight, but it was manageable, after Mom did some rearranging. I have definitely seen worse when it comes to accessibility so that really wasn’t my issue with the show.

I knew I was a bit ahead of the game as far as planning, and there might be a lot there I did not need; but thought that I might be able to talk to a few florists and maybe get some ideas for bridesmaids’ gifts and wedding accessories. When we got there, I was shocked by the small number of vendors and most of them were selling products and trying to get you to sign of for raffle, not encouraging people to book appointments, or offering advice.
I thought a bridal show would have a little something for everyone. Information for the bride at every stage, but this bridal show was small and seemed to be geared specifically towards brides that had been engaged for 2 minutes and had given no thought yet to the actual wedding. I saw a lot of cosmetic things, skin care cosmetics, a rep for laser hair removal, two different make-up places, these venues had little to offer, but encouraged you to sign up for a drawing. There was a travel agency, two hotels and a company that did it all from silk flowers to bridal consulting. None of these places had pictures offering suggestions or helpful staff, just a stack of business cards. David’s Bridal was there but instead of Men’s Wearhouse, which on might expect they had an independent tux company that had only one location. The saving grace of the whole thing was the free cupcakes offered up by a semi-local baker, and oddly, a hotel chain.

I know that some people would find found this helpful, and maybe I would have too if I had come to a show sooner but I had expected more and I felt like I had been cheated in a way. I found no florists and only one place that had ideas about Bridesmaids—a mail order jewelry place with a seasonal catalog and ridiculous prices.

 Despite the letdown, Mom and I decided to wait around and see if we could salvage the day by winning a prize. The prizes sounded good, a photographer, a bridal consultant, cake, gift certificates for beauty products, etc; and because we were in my hometown, I was looking forward to possibly getting a deal from a local vendor.

We waited for about an hour and a half. My name was called for the second biggest prize package of the night. I went up to accept my prize and immediately donated the $600 toward a DJ to the girl I’d been chatting with all day, because I had already booked mine for the same price, and I knew I couldn’t use it.

That was four months ago, since then I have used only one of the prizes: A $15 dollar gift certificate to Amethyst International,  a web-based store that makes the best smelling soap ever. So what happened to the other prizes I won? The ones that totaled roughly $2,000? Well, as it turns out “local” is up for interpretation. The company that put on the show is on the south east side of the state, and so are all of the prizes and only a handful could be sent to me. This means I’d have to drive about an hour to retrieve them. I don’t drive and even if I did, the cost of gas would cost as much as the prize would have if I’d paid for it.

I am sorry, but if you have a bridal show in one area wouldn’t it make sense to get prizes from that area? I have a free place to have a shower, if we want to drive over an hour to get there, a free cake if I drive to Monroe. The “photographer” they advertised turned out to be offering for free engagement pictures but since I had already booked my photographer I didn’t feel right using it. Of the prizes that could have been brought to me, most required I spend over $1,000 just to claim them and one expired in May. I have had more stress just trying to figure out how to use the prizes than I have had during the entire planning process.

I am not complaining, really. I am not upset at being unable to use the prizes myself, only that because I didn’t check, most will go unused altogether. Had I known that 99% of the prizes were going to be unusable; I would have asked them to draw another name. So if you are lucky enough to win prizes at events like this make sure you read the fine print before you leave the show. Make sure you can really use them, and if you can’t give them to someone who can. It will save you a lot of stress and a lot of guilt

My experience is probably not typical I certainly hope that other shows have more to offer. Judging by the number of ladies who came with pre addressed label sheets in hand; these shows must have something that keeps women coming back for more…. Maybe it’s the cupcakes.

Anybody have a positive experience to share? 


  1. The only show I have been to so far was at the Sheraton on Boardwalk and I got there at the very very end, just in time for the dress show - and a tiny bit of a dance lesson. I also enjoyed the mini cupcakes that were there (compliments of Webers) but didn't get much else out of it - although the woman who had provided the dresses for the show was nice and we chatted with her awhile and ended up driving out to the Tecumseh area to her shop and found the dress I want - BUT, we got the dress in Feb. and I am *still* waiting to hear from her as to if she was able to get it sized up for me (since after I had already ordered it she found out it was discontinued D: ) So! Maybe shows work for some girls, but I was not overly impressed, at least the show was free though!

  2. When we went with little sister it was really fun and they had a ton of great stuff. I think you just got a bad show all around. It's crazy how this stuff works, some are great and others are just horrible.

    It sucks you had such a bad experience.

  3. Dang! Let down and a half! You've totally ruined the dream of bridal shows for me! I will go cry now. :P