7 Secrets to a Better Bridal Show

Bridal Show

Tips for Wedding Show Photography Booths

Wondering about how to do effective photography marketing at bridal shows?  We built our business on bridal shows, so we know how to get the most out of them. It’s all in the planning. Here are 7 bridal show tips to have the best bridal show experience this year. By spending time getting ready for the bridal show, you are going to have better results. Here’s how:

1.Try to avoid being next to a cake booth (you cannot compete with free cake, and then you’ve got sticky fingers pawing your albums. Other booths to try to stay away from are the chain tuxedo rental places. They often bring a ‘team’ of 5-10 people that literally snatch people away as they are coming down an aisle, and your booth gets completely passed over-not good at all. Same thing with a newbie DJ blasting music-people avoid that like the plague, and if your booth is next door, you’ll be passed up too as people rush past to get away from the noise.

2. A lot of people avoid being next to other photography booths, but what’s the point of that? If a bride is looking for a photographer, she can compare the two more easily, and she is in the mindset to talk about photography, so why not take advantage?

3. Handouts are key-you want something gorgeous and memorable, not a photocopied price sheet. Take the time to create something really stellar, and you’ll stand out. You’ll want to have about 100 on hand.

4. Strike While the Iron is Hot-Have your calendar ready and suggest brides book consultations with you then and there. You can also offer mini consults right there in the booth. This is a great way to create a connection with a potential client. We would always have a couple of blank contracts on hand, so you can book right on the spot. If you want brides to to sign you as their photographer at the bridal show, you have to plan for it. This does happen on occasion if you are prepared.

5. Follow Up: you should offer some sort of a giveaway at the booth in order to capture leads and book brides. Have them fill out a card with name, (email, phone, address-only ask for what you are going to use) date & location, and then on the back of the card jot down notes after talking with them. We’d offer the complimentary engagement session for couples filling out the card, and these sessions can lead to bookings or simply more work for your portfolio.

6. Use the downtime during the fashion shows to network with other vendors. You can network with other photographers as well –don’t try to pretend to be a bride, just be warm and friendly. The networking aspect of bridal shows is a huge advantage that is often overlooked by newbies. But remember, all those vendors have brides that need photographers, and the vendors themselves are always looking for photographers to provide them with quality images of their latest work. Set up your photography booth early so you can walk around and see the other bridal booths before the doors open.

7. High attendance does not necessarily equal success – Whether a bridal show has been packed or filled with no more than a dozen brides and the vendors has had little effect on how many bookings we’ve gotten as a result. Strangely, we’ve gotten some great bookings from bridal shows that were almost completely dead. One was so bad that the bridal show promoter sent the teenage fashion models out to the booths pretending to be brides just to make the vendors feel like there were more people there. Of the brides we did talk with, 2 or 3 of them booked with us. Because the show was not packed, the real brides were able to actually enjoy it at a leisurely pace, taking their time to really get to know the vendors they were interested in.

What questions do you have for a veteran bridal show photographer? Ask your bridal show tips and questions in the comments below.


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabina Lorkin | Anibas Design October 24, 2011 at 7:57 am

Thanks for those tips. I have been carrying out wedding photojournalism for three years and am just delving into wedding shows so it’s great to have a few pointers, thank you.

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Lara White October 24, 2011 at 8:45 am

You are welcome! Bridal shows can be very effective in the right circumstances. In other instances, they can be a total waste of time and money. It depends on a lot of factors, but at least you can do things to improve your odds.

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Stacie October 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

I’d also add don’t eat or drink at your booth. It looks unprofessional. Bring help so you can take a break :)

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alicia October 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Thank you! Great tips to keep in mind.

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Lara White October 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

You are welcome Alicia, and thanks for reading.

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Ian Hamilton January 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Thanks, some great ideas there – have to admit that wedding shows aren’t my favourite part of the job! :)

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Lara White January 6, 2012 at 6:17 am

I hear you Ian, most of us would prefer to be behind the camera than trying to “sell” ourselves at a bridal show. Hopefully these tips will make it a bit easier.

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Jaimi January 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi. I’m actually being preparation for my first bridal show in June. I want to stand out big time! I’m trying very hard to put my studio’s name out in the bridal industry for our area. I’m obviously willing to put money into this, however, I haven’t been in business that long, and the funds are “flowing”….my thoughts are a designed album on table and portfolio. A drawing. My flyers are actually layflat cards on pearl paper, with a bridal image on one side and info on the other. and I was considering “Bride Bags” ( pink & gray bags with my logo on it, with some goodies to give to brides). I am also giving away a grand prize of 6 hour wedding package. Photographers time only. My brother (a salesmen) said I should offer free engagement to any client who books a consultation that day. Am I spending the little money I have in all the right places? or is some of this wasteful and less effective or just too much? I really want to make this most of this opportunity. Thank you. All this information is just AMAZING!

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Lara White January 9, 2012 at 7:09 am

Hi Jaimi,

Good for you! I think in the end you will find that some time is well spent while other time is wasteful. The problem is, you won’t know which is which until after. We made up index cards with contact info for the drawing, so we could actually collect info to follow up with, and then while chatting with people, we’d add notes to their contact card. seems interested, etc. Follow up is really important. I’d also suggest chatting people up and getting their contact info before handing out a gift bag, so you only give those to brides really interested.

I’d suggest putting time and thought into a great booth design that will be eye catching. You may be competing with 10-20 other photographers, so you want to ensure you stand out as much as possible. The other thing you can do is be sure to get your booth completely set up before the bridal show starts, so you can spend some time networking with other vendors.

I love the idea of a free engagement session for anyone that comes in for a consultation. That’s going to be a lot of work, but its a great way to build up your portfolio, and really prove yourself to couples. I would try to ensure this was only for people that didn’t already have a photographer booked. I would reconsider the big prize of 6 hours of photography, that seems like a lot of time invested, and the prizes are announced so quickly, your exposure on those is very little.

Hope this helps, and good luck on your first bridal show!

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Britta Rivera January 20, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hi Lara,
Thank you sooo much for all of this very valuable information! Do you have any advise as to the best place to have your booth. I have heard that an end booth is best by the fashion show. The end booth allows you to have two ways into your booth and is more inviting. What do you think?

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Lara White January 20, 2012 at 7:40 am

An end booth definitely gives you more traffic flow, as you get traffic from two directions. You don’t want to be outside the main room, and ideally kind of the middle-brides rush through the first aisle, not ready to talk to people yet as they are taking it all in. If you are near the fashion show, you wont have anyone visit during the fashion show at all. However, that’s a great time to network with the other event professionals, everyone is bored at that point in the day. Good luck!

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Jess January 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I am setting up my first bridal show booth next weekend. I have taken the time to come up with a great booth design as far as colors and what photos I am going to display. I have also gotten a nice picture frame and gave it to the show coordinator, its for the door prize give away. I put my card in the frame and also a coupon for some free prints if they book an engagement session with me. I will have a drawing for free photo session and I plan to follow up with those that enter the drawing. My question is: Do I offer it for an engagement session only or just a general photo session that anyone can enter? Also, what were you saying about having them fill out a card and putting notes on the back?? Do you hand these to them after you have talked with them or do you just leave them on the table for them to sign up for?

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Lara White January 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

You can offer either, but if your focus is weddings, it would make sense to tie your offer to your focus.

The purpose of having people fill out a card is to capture their contact info so you can follow up with them by phone, email or mailing a brochure to them. I used the drawing as an incentive to get people to fill out the card. When we got back to the office, we would send out nice brochure packets to the people most interested (where your notes come in) and email the others.

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Vanessa January 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

Hi Lara, I am going to attend a bridal show this weekend as a photographer, my goal is to meet vendors and to network. It is appropriate to bring my camera to snap some photos? Thanks.

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