Getting The Most From Wedding Fairs

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When planning a wedding there are all sorts of place you can go for ideas and advice. There are magazines, endless online forums and facebook groups, Pintrest etc

In my opinion, one of the best things you can do, no matter what stage of planning you are at, is to go to some wedding fairs.

Not only to you get to see some venues dressed as they would be on your day, but also there is a whole collection of industry experts on hand to answer any questions and offer helpful advice.

The only thing is, it can seem quite daunting. As you walk round its hard not to feel like your getting pounced on and sold to! However, the majority of good suppliers are there to help. At the end of this blog I have included a short guide to getting the most out of wedding fairs. I hope it helps!

I have been attending fairs in the North East for the past 3 years and my favourites are those ran by the very awesome Vicky and Craig from ‘Darlington Weddings
I caught up with them both after a very successful afternoon at Crathorne Hall to get an inside view of the people that put these events on…

Andy: When did DW start?

Craig: 2005. Vicky, my wife and co-founder of DW was working in the wedding industry as a weddings manager for a local venue. I had just started a web design business and launched the Darlington Weddings website as a side project (Vicky gets full credit for the idea!). It was initially a small directory, which simply promoted wedding businesses in Darlington. Little did I know that this little side project would lead to much bigger things over the next 13 years!

 

Andy: Why did you start it?

Craig: I was offering web design and SEO services to local wedding businesses, but it was time consuming to help them all individually. I thought I could help them all at once by listing them on one site and getting Darlington Weddings to the top! That worked, and continued to work for around 10 years. In that time Darlington Weddings grew into much more than a website directory – we launched our events in 2010 alongside a Darlington Weddings magazine, which then spun off into a completely new business – UNVEILED Magazine, which we started in 2013 and sold in 2017.

 

Andy: What got you into the wedding industry and what did you do before?

Craig: Vicky had worked in the hotel and wedding industry for years, which is why she suggested the idea in the first place. However, when we launched Darlington Weddings we were actually half way through a year long round-the-world trip. I think the very first version of the Darlington Weddings website was launched from a youth hostel in Sydney! 

 

Andy: Tell me a bit about the magazine, how did that fit into the picture?

Craig: Vicky and I had no experience in the publishing industry but, due to demand from our customers, decided to setup DW magazine. After 4 successful issues of DW I noticed that all of the regional bridal magazines were very similar, and nobody was really doing anything different. So we started a brand new wedding magazine, UNVEILED – the first luxury regional wedding magazine.

This was unlike any other regional wedding magazine at the time. We limited the amount of advertising in each issue and spent an absolute fortune to get the highest print quality available. Instead of using national wedding magazines as inspiration, we looked towards fashion publications such as Vogue, Porter, Harper’s Bazaar and even GQ!

Our launch edition featured a black and white cover, with a sliver foil finish – something that had never been done before on regional bridal title. We kept pushing boundaries with our features and design. For example, we were also the first regional title to take a whole editorial team overseas for a bridal photoshoot.

After a couple of years of running the magazine I hired a fantastic editor who helped us push the boundaries even further. We grew from a North East publication to one that covered the whole of the UK – including some of the biggest bridal events in cities such as London and Manchester. Julia, the editor, made an offer to buy me out in early 2017, which I accepted in order to focus exclusively on the North East wedding industry again. I’m delighted to see UNVEILED magazine going from strength to strength under Julia’s leadership. It’s amazing to see a product that began as a blank document on my computer screen turn into one of the best wedding publications in the country. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for UNVEILED!

 wedding fair image

 

Andy: There are so many wedding fairs now, ran by different organisers and venues. What do you guys do to make sure your fairs are extra special?

Craig: All of our events are free to enter – even our massive events such as the North East Brides Wedding Show we recently hosted at the Northern Echo Arena! 

We host our events at some incredible North East wedding venues, and we only invite suppliers of the highest quality. We work with some of the best creatives in the wedding industry, who have been around for a long time and have very reputable businesses. 

We are also lucky enough to work with House Of Fraser, Darlington, who sponsor our free bridal goodie bags.

 

Andy: After so many years experience in weddings and wedding fairs, what would be your top tips for brides and grooms to get the most from your fairs?

Craig: Make sure you speak with as many suppliers as possible. Some couples attend our events but don’t approach many of the suppliers, instead opting to simply pickup business cards and flyers. 

It’s important that you ‘click’ with the people you choose for your wedding day and therefore meeting the suppliers at wedding fayres is a much better way to build a shortlist of wedding suppliers than simply browsing Google of Facebook for wedding industry experts!

Some of the suppliers, such as your wedding photographer, will be with you for the majority of the day. You’ll want to choose someone that you feel comfortable with for a long period of time. Striking up a conversation at the wedding fayres is a great way to find out more about each supplier and get an idea of whether they are the kind of people that will connect with you and your guests on your big day.

 

Andy: Whats new? What projects are underway?

Craig: We recently launched North East Brides, a sister events company to Darlington Weddings. The North East Brides brand is for our bigger wedding shows, such as the Northern Echo Arena, and our Redworth Hall Wedding Fayre, which is coming up this weekend. See more details here: http://northeastbrides.com/redworth-hall-wedding-fayre-dress-sale/

I’m also currently in the planning stage of a new wedding related startup, but I’m not divulging anything about that just yet!!

I hope you have found that informative and as promised, here’s your guide to getting the most out of a wedding fair. Also, here’s a list of the fairs that you can come and meet me, see some magic and have a chat about your wedding! See you there…!

Go to www.andylarmouth.com/wedding-fairs and see when the next nearest fair near you is!

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