Forever Bridal Southern Bridal Show & Expo ’12

I attended the Forever Bridal Fall Southern Bridal show this past weekend and boy was it intense! It was my first real experience with a bridal show and will probably also be my last. The experience itself was so overwhelming I’m not even sure where to begin telling you about it. I suppose I will start with getting tickets for the show.

Purchasing my tickets was relatively easy and they even offered a $2 discount for buying in advance online. I navigated my way to the Forever Bridal website and started registering myself for the show. While registering ahead made the process a little bit easier, I was surprised by how lengthy the questionnaire was and it became obvious that they want to know all this information about you and your fiance so they can solicit the heck out of you. This became even more blatantly obvious to me the moment I arrived at the show. I was glad that I’d done enough prior research to truly recognize their intentions in this situation and I would hate to have been a completely inexperienced bride at this show.

I decided to drag my bestie, Ashley, along with me for some encouragement and support. Looking back on the experience I am insanely grateful to her for tagging along. She did a great job keeping me focused and helping me get by some of the more annoyingly aggressive vendors.

Delicious Cupcakes from Gigi’s

When we got to the show, I had to exchange my online receipt for actual tickets, wander down a few random hallways and eventually made it to the room where I got us checked in. If you were someone who registered in advance, they gave you a sticker with the month of your wedding to wear and set aside a nice purple fabric bag labeled Savvi Bride with a few goodies for you, so I collected mine quickly and rushed into the main building where all the vendors were. Inside my bag of goodies was a free Wedding Organizer/Binder, a coupon or two and a pen. The bag was most useful for collecting things from the vendors, but then I’m sure that is the main reason they get handed out. The sticker they gave me with the bag said October, not Bride. At first I was somewhat confused and even a bit annoyed by this, but it didn’t take me long to figure out why they did it.

While wandering around from table to table, I realized how particularly aggressive certain vendors were as soon as they noticed my sticker said October; some even commented on how soon it seemed to be coming up. All of a sudden it hit me, the sticker indicated I was getting married THIS upcoming October. NOTE to Brides: Vendors equate a near date with a desperate bride. Apparently most of the vendors assumed that I was either marrying within the year or the following year. I suppose it’s my fault for assuming that I could attend a show without them thinking I’d be getting married shortly after. Even considering the confusion, I was still shocked at how negatively some of them acted when I explained that I was really just looking for ideas and getting to know the professionals available for the time being. It really frustrated me and honestly made me leave much sooner than I otherwise would have.

All in all, it wasn’t absolutely terrible. I got to taste a few samples from some pretty excellent bakeries and chatted with a few good musicians and caterers. We even caught the tail end of some contest for a Mother-Daughter dance off, which was quite amusing.

After having attended this show, I can see why most of the wedding planning guides firmly encourage skipping these expos. Personally I’d just let your wedding planner pre-screen your vendors for you and take the hassle out of it. But then again, I am biased.

Wedding consultant, coordinator, planner, what?!

There are many different names for professionals who plan weddings and many different responsibilities and obligations they take on. Whether the person you hire to plan your wedding refers to themselves as a planner, a coordinator, or a consultant one thing is for certain: They are helping you put together one of the most important days of your life. So what does this mean for you? It means you need to do a little planning to plan.

Before you start interviewing for the best candidate, make sure you know what you want them to do for you. Most wedding consultants will provide a few options of services to select from. You can hire a wedding planner who comes in and does everything for you; booking venues, coordinating with vendors throughout the year, and managing wedding day events. Or you can simply hire a “Day Of” Coordinator, who would come in later and do more last-minute details such as manage the rehearsal and coordinate with the bridal party and vendors on the day of the wedding. Either way, it will be much easier for you to find the help you need if you know what you are looking for. You should also make sure to have a really good idea of what kind of wedding you want to have. The more thoroughly you explain what you are looking for, the easier it will be for your planner to execute your vision.

But how do you know what you want? With many choices to choose from, how do you decide which is the best option for you? You should first consider what you are working with. Do you have an excellent Maid of Honor? Someone who is naturally organized and responsible? Or a relatively large and helpful family and a bunch of great bridesmaids? You may decide you don’t even want or need professional assistance.

Are you someone who is really excited about the concept of putting together your wedding because, hey this is the day you have been dreaming of since you were a little girl right?! But, at the same time someone who just can’t seem to keep organized and are completely daunted by the idea of calling multiple different contacts for multiple different things? If this sounds like you, consider hiring a wedding planner; someone who you trust to do all the work for you. Remember what I said before about explaining to them exactly what you want though. Allowing someone complete trust to plan your entire wedding can be pretty nerve-wracking, but if you know you have given them all the details they could possibly need and feel absolutely confident in that, then you should be able to relax and allow them to take care of your needs.

What if it’s not necessarily that you’re overwhelmed by planning the wedding, but that you have a crazy aunt, in-law, mother, or relative that you think you just might need the help of a professional to reign in? A good wedding coordinator can be both organized and charming enough to have everything in order AND keep frustrating relatives from driving you completely batty on your big day. If you think this might be what you need, you should consider hiring a “Day of” coordinator and make sure you let them know up front about those “specific” relatives.

Have you considered your budget? You should have by now. If you are at the point of interviewing for wedding planner, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your finances look like. If not, sit down and figure it out before you go any further. If you know how tight your budget is, staying within the constraints of it will be that much easier. This may be your most important detail and you might even consider hiring your planner based on their ability to help you stay within your budget. I have mentioned before that before you even start the process of planning your wedding you should make a list of your wants and needs for the wedding and rank them in order of importance. If your budget is your number one priority, you may want a wedding planner there for you helping you every step of the way, pointing out small costs which most people forget about but that end up adding up, and helping you find ways to save. And if you haven’t made that list of wedding day priorities a good wedding planner would be able to help you with that too.

Whatever you decide, make sure you are happy with your decision and remind yourself to relax. While it can be extremely hectic to put together a wedding, you should always try to remember that you are doing it because of love!

Farm 2 Your Table

I am going to use this post to plug for some friends of mine, but I promise you that you will be happy I did.

Chef Blake & Chef Megan run a small catering company in Raleigh called Farm 2 Your Table. They use all natural ingredients from local organic produce and I can honestly tell you it shows in how good their food is. I’ve tried a lot of their stuff and everything I’ve had has been absolutely delicious. They serve all kinds of goodies from breads, cookies and truffles, to fresh mozzarella, southern succotash and mini crab cakes. I won’t go into too much detail about what all their services are, because you should check out their site which I’ve linked to above or their¬†Facebook page (which has more pics of their delicious goodies).

Don’t just take my word for how good their food is though. If you have Saturday mornings off from work and are looking for something to do you can find a Farm 2 Your Table booth down at the Saturday Market located near the Boylan St. bridge. Visit their Facebook page¬† for more details, directions, etc.

The Saturday Market is a great place for local baked goods, fresh produce, and I think there’s even a BBQ Truck down there.