I speak to a lot of couples who say they’ve never been to a wedding fair like it’s a badge of honour – like they’ve avoided the horrors of war.
But wedding fairs are a fantastic way to get ideas, suppliers, and discounts for your wedding. Before you decide they’re not for you, it’s worth considering…
There are different types of wedding fair – and some might be exactly what you’re after
When people think about wedding fairs, they often picture sprawling expos, hot and packed with too many couples, trying to fight their way through flashy displays set up to sell expensive things you don’t need. Like Comic-Con for lace nerds.
But, while big exhibitions do exist, they’re not overcrowded convention halls, filled with dubious stag do salesmen. (Gavin and Stacey lied to you. Gavin and Stacey lied to us all.)
And they’re not the only type of fair.
Great for big brands and choice
Big exhibitions are often put on by well-known wedding magazines, like Brides, in conference halls and exhibition centres.
They showcase expensive brands – Vera Wang dresses, Moet champagne – but they also seek out smaller suppliers that look unique and interesting.
There are a lot of stands at a big exhibition and some of them aren’t really related to weddings, like teeth whitening services and perfumes. But you’ll also see interesting venues, stationery, outfits, and cakes. And plenty of each.
The larger space means big exhibitions can showcase vendors from the same industry; if three hundred vendors are exhibiting, having twenty photographers just gives you choice. You can see different styles and price points. Smaller wedding fairs will never host more than two or three companies in the same line of work, to stop it feeling same-y. So, if you want to see options, big wedding fairs can be useful.
Funky, independent fairs
Curated suppliers that fit a style
Independent fairs, like Most Curious, Un-Wedding, and Chosen, are put on by people who run wedding fairs for a living; they care about finding the perfect suppliers and putting on a show people will enjoy.
Independent fairs curate their suppliers carefully. With far less suppliers than the big exhibitions – between 20 and 150 – they take care to showcase a range of different suppliers.
They often seek out new, interesting ideas, unearthing ideas and small wedding businesses you might not have come across before, like audio guestbooks and custom favours. They’re a great way to discover new ideas and get inspiration for a wedding unique to you.
A day out at an independent fair can be a day out, with food and drinks, as well as fashion shows, workshops, talks, and live music.
Local fairs hosted by wedding venues
Great for finding small, local suppliers
Wedding venues regularly put on wedding fairs, showcasing their preferred suppliers. They tend to be smaller events – often under thirty suppliers – but they’re a great way to find people you need to be close to the venue, like florists and cake makers, to avoid big delivery charges.
With less space available to exhibit wedding suppliers, local fairs will usually focus on those most weddings will have – stationers, florists, bakers, photographers… You won’t find any ideas you won’t already have thought of, but you will find reliable, recommended suppliers, familiar with your venue.
Wedding businesses give out exclusive discounts and freebies at wedding fairs
It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive. In 2019, the average wedding cost over £31,000! So it’s worth considering anything that can get you money off or free extras.
Most wedding suppliers will run a special offer at wedding fairs. Some will give you a big discount for putting down a deposit on the day. Some will give you a discount just for coming to the fair. Some will run competitions to win their services. And some will put in a bonus, like a free engagement photoshoot, if you book them in the weeks after the fair.
It makes sense for wedding suppliers – they want to know how awesome couples are finding them, so they know if their marketing is working! – but it makes sense for you, too. If you spend £10 on a wedding fair ticket and save £200 on your ideal photographer, you’ve freed up budget to spend on another part of your wedding. Or a no-wedding-talk date night!
Wedding fairs announce most of their exhibitors in advance, promoting them on Instagram and Facebook, and linking to them from their websites. Have a look at the wedding suppliers who’ll be exhibiting a week or two before the fair. If anyone catches your interest, it’s likely worth getting a ticket; at worst, you’ve had a nice day out with your partner or your friends. At best, you find your dream wedding suppliers and save money on them.
You can get FREE tickets
Most wedding fairs give their exhibitors free tickets, to get them talking up and promoting the fair.
Have a look at upcoming exhibitors on Instagram, or check the stories of the fair account itself. If there are free tickets available, they’ll be promoting their prize draw in the weeks before the fair. In the time it takes the kettle to boil, you could follow, comment, and win tickets to go to a fair for free!
See real examples of work to rule wedding suppliers in (or out!) quickly
No matter how long you spend pruning Pinterest or trawling Trustpilot, you can’t know what something will look and feel like from pictures.
There’s a big difference between reading a paper GSM weight and holding an invitation in your hands. And, no matter how good a bakery sounds online, you need to sample their cakes before you know if it’s what you want to serve to your guests.
Only wedding fairs give you the chance to see (and touch and taste!) physical examples of what you’ll be getting, so you know if it’s what you want.
You can get a vibe for the people you’re going to spend your wedding day with
It’s important to get along with the people who are helping to make your wedding.
Maybe you don’t need to be best mates with your cake maker or stationer (though you still want to know they get you), but it’s important that the people you’re going to be with on the day – your photographer, your celebrant, your wedding planner – are people you get along with.
It’s important that you know they’re on the same page and understand what you want the day to be. It’s important that you know you can trust them.
At a wedding fair, you have the chance to meet people face-to-face. You can chat through your ideas and see who’s genuinely excited to make them happen for you. You can get a vibe on if they’re someone you’re going to want at your wedding in a way a website and Instagram feed never can.
Things might not have thought of or known to search for
Your wedding is about you. It should have your hobbies and humour and style in it – nothing should be there because that’s what you have at weddings. (Something I’ve ranted about at length before and will again!)
Wedding fairs are a fantastic way to unearth those ingenious ideas, unique products, and things that make your day feel like you.
I wish I’d known about Humble Crumble’s alcoholic crumble, for a perfect winter dessert, or The Big Red Box’s audio guest book when I was organising my wedding; but they’re such new, different ideas, there’s no way to know how to search for them.
Wedding fairs are the best way to discover the ideas and people that will help make your wedding shine.
Top photo by Sally Rose Wedding Photography.