In the run up to Nu Bride The Wedding Show, a networking brunch popped up on my feed with a round table discussion on Wedding Shows. The debate centred on the pros and cons and what industry people's personal opinion of them was. I jumped at the chance to book a ticket to pick up some tips in advance of exhibiting at Nu Bride. Around half of the group admitted that wedding shows were not the go to means of promotion for their business, with the general opinion being that they weren't as fruitful as they are perhaps marketed to be in regards to client leads and conversions. Guests also spoke of being sold falsehoods during the booking process for shows, which had detrimental effects on their experience and that "maybe the money you spent on them was better spent on Facebook ads." The discussion was balanced and varied but I remember leaving a little apprehensive about doing another wedding show whilst at the same time feeling more determined to implement some of the new ideas I had picked up, to ensure this one would be different.
When we found Nu Bride we felt that we were onto something special and post show we now know this to be true. Nu Bride The Wedding Show promised to stand apart from the rest and not only did it do that, it imprinted a path of its own. If I’m being totally honest, it wasn’t an easy decision for us to spend the money we did on it and there was most definitely times along the way when we wondered whether we were doing the right thing. In our experience and in line with a lot of what was discussed at the networking brunch, Wedding Shows haven’t massively worked for us so far. We've walked away from past shows feeling underwhelmed, dissatisfied and with no bookings, so we were understandably a little conflicted. For a small business like ours, every decision we make can have massive effects not only on our pockets but on our confidence too. The fear definitely kicked in but something (well a number of things actually) told us to feel this fear and take the plunge anyway.
So why was this show so different?
In a word - HEART! From our very first phone conversation with Nova, we begun to learn a little about who she was and what her vision for this show was. Anyone that knows her work as a diversity campaigner knows that she is a force to be reckoned with - a boundary pushing, thought provoking, anti-racist championing, bad ass superwomen. From this perspective alone, we were intrigued about what this one women army was doing for the wedding industry and as we plunged into our planning for the UK's first Wedding Show dedicated to diversity and the modern millennial bride, we could quickly see that it was going to be no ordinary show. Nova insisted that her suppliers were to decorate their spaces without using the usual trestle tables and upright banners. Once again the fear kicked in and we had a mild panic about having to buy new materials for our space. However once the fear subsided, this became another creative challenge for us to step up to and we very much enjoyed gathering inspiration for our space. (After doing this show I highly doubt we will EVER use our upright banner again) The exhibitor packs sent to us in preparation for the show gave us some great ideas of what Novas vision for the space was but nothing could quite prepare us for what Camden House looked like once everyone had finished setting up. This once blank space was transformed into a vibrant array of on-trend colours, shapes and patterns, rich in diversity and glamour. From an aesthetic point of view it was absolutely stunning.
Now let's talk suppliers.
Nova curated her supplier list with the utmost care and attention. Inclusivity is what this wedding show was all about and the diversity of suppliers on board was a joy to behold. Talent, innovation and brand excellence all under one roof. Some of our favourites included The Big Red Box / The Curated Kitchen / Sonal Dave / Brides Do Good. But not only were these suppliers showcasing stellar services but they were also some of the most friendly and open hearted people we have met in this kind of arena. The vibes were good. We laughed a lot and we made some lovely connections with people that for the first time ever, we know we will actually keep in contact with.
The Catwalk Experience.
Beware guys this could get gushy! Early on in the planning for Nu Bride we made it clear to Nova that we would like to be a part of the Catwalk Show. She initially had someone else in mind but for various reasons that didn't happen and an opportunity opened up for us to step into. We went back and forth with Nova about the finer details of this show and soon understood that it would be much more than models walking the runway in their designers wedding attire. In fact, through the mediums of song, contemporary dance and music it was a stylistic and heartfelt sharing of a love story. We were given the opportunity to take centre stage in the middle of the show and sing one of our most popular arrangements and I am serious when I say there was not a dry eye in the house. We knew we had nailed it when Nova cried not once or twice but three times.
Maya Angelou said 'People don’t always remember what you say but they remember how you made them feel' and from all of the positive feedback we received, we know our audience felt something unforgettable from us. The show championed plus size models as well as an inclusive selection of Asian, African, Caribbean and English beauties who all slayed in their lane but more importantly, represented in their steps down the runway, the beautifully diverse audience that had bought tickets for the show.
So, are wedding shows worth it?
From this experience we’ve learnt that wedding shows on a whole can most definitely be worth the time, effort and money spent on them but the key is to choose the right show for your brand. Do your research, know what the target audience walking through that door is, how many of the same type of supplier will be exhibiting, how many suppliers on a whole will be exhibiting. There are lots of things you can do to make it a positive and even lucrative experience for your brand, however in our opinion there is no fail safe plan and being fully preparation is a must. If you only walk away with new photo and videos that can be used as great content on your socials, even that is a small win. Going with an open mind is a must. As for our Nu Bride experience, there is no question of doubt in our minds that this show was 100% worth it. It was elegant, exclusive and chic without feeling elitist or cold and we feel lucky to have been a little part of the very first one. We hope it's not the last! Our goals for the show included; getting new names on our mailing list, new client leads and new supplier connections and we achieved them all. It's too early to say whether our leads will convert into sales but we have gained so much more from being a part of this experience than we ever thought we would and for that reason alone, it was money, time and effort very well spent indeed.
“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued - when they can give and receive without judgement.” Brené Brown
Gemma and Kelly x