To The Wedding Show, I Go!
As a wedding vendor, I have never participated in a wedding show or expo. But last year I was asked to showcase in the Jacksonville Bridal and Event Show! Unfortunately, I don’t live anywhere near Jacksonville. When I spoke to the show organizers and discovered they were also planning a wedding show in Dallas, I was all over it! I reserved my space, paid my fee and then… boom. Started to freak out a bit, because this was a boutique show and hello – I had never participated in a wedding show before! And this was a fancy one! What had I signed up for?
It turns out, I didn’t need to worry. I did pretty well! I DIY’d my booth and the show organizers used my booth as an example to the other wedding vendors. Not bad! In this post, I’m going to go through step by step how I put my booth together and made my first wedding show a success!
Branding In The Show
The first thing I considered, before anything else, is my branding. My brand colors are white and turquoise and my logo uses black lettering. In general, my brand asthetic is clean lines and modern touches. So I knew my booth at the wedding show would need to reflect that. That made any inital color choices easy. The direction I was given from the wedding show organizers was to go “over the top” and that it would not be a drape and pipe type of show. With that in mind, I knew I didn’t want to go with the provided table and table cloth. I figured nobody else would either (I was wrong about that, to my surprise). But I also knew I was on a tight budget. So, I had a few choices I could go with:
- rent some tables from a decor shop in Dallas
- purchase tables new and bring them with me
- buy furniture second hand and refurbish them
I liked the first and second options the best, although they both had downsides. The problem with renting tables was, well, I just couldn’t find anything I really liked. And trust me, I looked hard. And the issue with buying furniture and bringing it with me was that I lived in Austin… and my family was coming with me for a mini getaway that weekend. With two kids in the backseat, we didn’t have a lot of room to stuff tables and boxes and luggage in there! I looked into renting a larger vehicle, but any dream of keeping this weekend affordable was flying away. But in the end, this is the route I took and I just measured everything really carefully while keeping my fingers crossed!
I ended up using my work table from my studio. It’s an old IKEA table, something I found from the dark ages when I lived alone in a basement apartment (so it really was the dark ages, ha) in the As Is section. I managed to score a great square table from a neighborhood facebook swap page for $25. My daughter, the Divine Miss A, helped to spray paint it in my brand colors.
I needed a sign with my logo on it for the booth. My dad used to own and operate a sign business so I had some idea of how expensive it could be to have one made. Instead, I opted to paint one by hand. I had a large canvas on hand already and used that. I copied over my logo using carbon paper, which is one of my favorite art tools. The sign was done after a few evenings of working on it. I took a picture halfway through to use on instagram as promotion for the wedding show.
Now the problem was, what would I put the sign ON? I couldn’t hang anything on the walls of the venue. I decided to use the art easel I already had rather than buy something else. That meant it needed to match my branding as well. As much as I loved the neutral wood color, I painted the easel white to match the large table.
It was important to me to lay all the furniture out in the allotted space to make sure it fit. I used painter’s tape to mark off an 8’x8′ space in my front foyer, and put my booth furniture in there. Once I had an actual space to work with I could easily move the furniture around and see what would work the best. Having been to wedding shows, I knew that people usually travel in groups or two or three and I wanted to make sure I had enough space around each table for them to be comfortable without feeling closed in and claustrophobic.
This is my final arrangement. I had tried all different things and made sure to walk around each piece of furniture while carrying a tote bag to see if the bag caught on the painting or a table corner. (Since attendees are usually given tote bags full of brochures and giveaways at wedding shows.) You can see the blue painters tape on the floor where I marked off the 8’x8′ space.
Let’s DIY This Show
Once I had the bare bones of the booth figured out, I needed to focus on the actual display. What was I going to put on the tables? Obviously my invitations, but I wanted it to catch people’s eye. I went to Hobby Lobby to see what caught mine and to get ideas. I came back with two decorative wooden boxes, a few wood frames and two wooden trays with very high sides that I was going to use as risers.
My first course of action was to start painting the boxes. Again, I wanted to stick with my branding. I decided to paint them blue with white accents and just a touch of gold. When the boxes were finished, I sprayed them with a coat of spray sealant.
I spray painted the trays white. I then painted the frames gold. A good gold paint can be hard to find. This is what I used:
I bought this paint on amazon. It is a bit pricey but it is worth it. It covers really well and is a true gold. I bought the 24k Gold color.
Once the frames were dry, I used superglue to attach the largest one to a wooden 11×14 picture frame. I glued the smaller frames to wood bases I had painted blue. I found the other decor elements in storage bins in our garage, used in previous parties we had thrown.
Wedding Show Display
It was time to start arranging things on the tables. I put the risers down first and quickly realized I would need more than just two. Searching the house, I picked up whatever leftover boxes we didn’t need that would work. I was going for height and color stories.
It’s The Weekend!
I was worried if everything would fit into the back of my car. Well, it did!
I had a 10:15 load in time, and the show started at 1 PM with a media preview at 12:30. Hubster and I brought everything in and he started to assemble furniture while I began unpacking. I am really happy I was so organized before the wedding show, because I knew exactly what needed to be done and assembled my booth very quickly.
I was very surprised to see that I was the only vendor at this wedding show who had a custom booth. Everyone who shared the room with me was using the table and cloth provided by the venue, thus making it look like a sea of pale pink. Because I had chosen to use white and turquoise as my colors I definitely stood out. I was also surprised to see that only the photographers had used height in their displays by way of their picture frames.
To Sum Up
I consider this wedding show a success! And it wasn’t too hard. If you follow these guidelines I believe your booth will be too.
- Always Be Branding. Stick to your brand. Through colors, fonts, and general asthetics. Attendees can immediately get a sense of your vibe. For example, nobody will ever mistake me for making invitations with a vintage feel, now will they?
- Make Your Name Visible. I was surprised at how obvious this seems, yet how difficult it was to figure out who was who at this wedding show. Don’t make people guess. And make it obvious from across the room.
- Use The table. Think about your display as a selling feature. I want people to know what I do before they come up to my booth. Also, there may be a restriction on how wide the booth is, but I can use the vertical space. Use risers or boxes to stack your product and add visual interest.
- What Do You Do? No Really. What Do You Do? Are you a makeup artist? Then put some makeup on the table. Are you a hairstylist? Then put some hairspray and bobby pins on there, or maybe create a picture on a canvas out of them to get people talking. If you think a computer screen showing photos of your work will do the selling for you, it won’t. People might just think you’re a photographer and walk away. Make your display unique and engaging.
- Sell Your Personality. It’s difficult, and as an introvert I can tell you it’s hard. But don’t be afraid to do it! My give away was screws… because it’s in line with my marketing and I thought it would be funny. It was a great way to get people to engage and after a mimosa or too, it was a great way to get people to laugh. Don’t be afraid to be goofy!