It doesn't matter where you are in the UK, I reckon you can probably find a wedding show of some sort to visit almost every weekend not far from your home town.

 

Every type of wedding venue including village halls right through to grand hotels are hosting wedding shows and yes there are far too many of them. As wedding photographers we know our category is usually the first to fill up. In fact there are so many of us out there that it's almost impossible to find a local venue for you to exhibit at as the same photographers will re-book their place for the next show and at some venues a photography wedding stand is like gold dust.

I guess as photographers/videographers we're fortunate because I can't really think of many industries that hold so many dedicated shows open to the public for professional suppliers to exhibit at. I remember years ago the best place to advertise was in the Yellow Pages, it was the 'go-to' place for everybody to find a supplier or service. 

So how important are wedding shows for photographers particularly when fewer people are getting married, there's more photographers than ever before to compete with and an endless stream of wedding shows?  Bride and grooms can find everything they need online and if they really are interested in a service they'll do a lot online research and make an appointment to visit any type of supplier be it a florist or DJ.

For a bride and groom planning their wedding do they really need to go to a wedding show when there is so much information to be found online? I mean why go to a wedding show and feel under sales pressure when countless sales people are asking the same question 'When's the big day?' 'Congratulations!' 'Would you like us to take your details so we can fill your inbox' etc etc. 

Look carefully at visitors, study their body language and look to see why they don't stop and look at certain stands. Perhaps they've already booked a photographer, magician or make-up artist. They may have got engaged the day before and have no idea when they are getting married, so they simply just want to have a casual look around but are still stopped by an eager florist or photographer. 

Several years ago I used to walk away from exhibitions with a number of confirmed bookings and on Monday morning's the phone would ring. But that no longer happens, people don't want to make decisions under pressure and why should they? They want to take the information home, look through it, look at websites and then hopefully make an initial enquiry. But it may take months before someone actually contacts you, so it's a longer process than ever before. 

So should we continue to exhibit at wedding shows? Are we simply wasting our valuable weekend time coming away with no bookings and a handful of poor leads, or are the shows working for you? 

I recently came across a wedding show where the organisers are including a question and answer session with wedding experts for visitors. Tickets have to be purchased  to attend, so you would think customer leads would be stronger.

Like everything else wedding shows will evolve, if you can afford to attend and are getting a worthwhile return then it's worth continuing, if however the shows aren't working for you then it may be down to several reasons; Does your stand look professional? Do you have enough samples on display? Do you have any sales experience? Is the venue too far from where you are based? Do you have a proven track record of shooting weddings?

A positive aspect for us as photographers and videographers is that we generally only need one booking to cover expenses, whereas other trades need to make several sales to break even, particularly when they are giving free sample products to everyone.

If you haven't done a wedding show before or have your first one coming up don't assume you'll come away with several bookings, you simply won't, those days are over. You will however increase your chances of taking more bookings if you do attend but they will probably come in well after the show has taken place, so you have to be in it for the long haul, it's a long uphill climb. 

I will cover 'Wedding Shows' as another topic in a future article and discuss sales techniques and how you can make them work for you.