Good morning all! I hope you had a lovely weekend. Down south it was lovely and sunny and spring-like- Paul and I are starting to venture back out in to our garden and doing a lot of thinking about how to bring it back to life after the long winter… including spending a flipping fortune on new fencing, yikes. But to the matter in hand… Jennie is back today with a ruddy brilliant post about her recent trip to the National Wedding Show. It’s a bit of a rite of passage for newly engaged folk, but is all the hype worth it? I wrote a little ditty on my opinion of wedding fairs a while back, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What’s the best wedding fair you’ve been to and why, I wonder…?
Last weekend I headed to London Olympia with my Mum and good friend Chantal to visit the National Wedding Show. I booked the tickets in a fit of excitement mostly because I was going to be a bride and that meant I could! After booking though I think we all had a touch of trepidation about the day. We’d heard stories of a packed out event, full of pushy sales people and the kind of tense atmosphere that comes when you pack thousands of women under one roof. So how did we find the event? Lets start with the good things:
- The dresses. There are LOTS of dresses. Racks and racks of lace, satin and tulle. Miles of beading, embroidery and pearls. If you’re looking for dress inspiration, you’re bound to find something here. It was my first real chance to really get an idea of what wedding dresses are actually like, feel the fabrics, and see what they look like up close. I actually tried on my first wedding dress too – eek!
- Goodie Bags! Call me shallow, but I do love a goodie bag. There’s something incredibly exciting to me about delving into a bag, not knowing what you’ll find, like taking home a party bag when you’re little. I am a real sucker for anything in miniature, even if that miniature thing is a sample-sized box of washing powder….
- It’s an excellent excuse for a girl’s day out. We made a real day of it, going for afternoon tea afterwards at The Landmark Hotel (which, by the way, I’d highly recommend if you need ideas for wedding related celebrations. The food was incredible, and they even brought out a special congratulations cake for me). You’ll be faced with lots of little cake samples and shot sized cocktail samples to keep you going, and it’s a great place to try on hats and sparkly things. My Mum tried on some fabulous hats, and Chantal and I modelled some spectacularly blingy tiaras.
- There are a lot of deals going on should be you be hunting down specifics. We’re not quite ready for any of this, but there were big discounts on photographers, wedding rings and dozens of wedding abroad packages.
- If you time your day right you can catch lots of bridal workshops covering a range of bridal beauty tips from hair and make up, to how to walk in heels and how to avoid falling over on that walk down the aisle. The latter being something I didn’t realise I needed to be worrying about, but now causes me occasional shudders of dread!
Then there are the not so good bits:
- There are, it is true, so many dresses to choose from. But, if you’re dreaming of a beautiful experience trying on your dresses I’m afraid you’re unlikely to find it here. You’re taken into a barely curtained off area to get into your dress. Piles of clothes are scattered all over the floor, and everywhere you turn women are being hoisted in and out of dresses. There’s a lot of bridal flesh on show, be prepared to see a lot of strangers in their knickers. I was yanked into the dress (which on closer inspection was rather marked with the various shades of foundation worn by the women who’d come before me) by a woman affectionalty known as ‘Tarzan’, which, needless to say, didn’t do wonders for my body confidence. You’ll show your dress find to your Mum and your maids in amongst a host of other girls in wedding dresses. The first wedding dress I’d worn in front of my Mum and not even a slightly moist eye.
- It gets BUSY. I mean really busy. The morning was fine and we had plenty of space to browse, but by early afternoon it was become overwhelmingly heaving. There were long queues at every stall, and it was starting to get rather hot and uncomfortable.
- A lot of the stands are rather similar, and after a while things begin to get repetitive. This isn’t the place to pick up inspiration for something a little different. There is a vintage area, but its small, and you won’t be picking up very many tips for DIY.
- VIP tickets, aside from giving us all a lovely new set of nail varnishes, isn’t really worth the extra money. You’ll still only get a seat for the catwalk show if you get yourself to the VIP area 40 minutes before the show, and the bare minerals make over was booked out for the day even when we went in at 10am.
What did I get out of the day? Well I’ve learnt that putting cider into champagne flute does not make it a cheap bubbles option, and that having a veil on my head makes me feel very odd indeed. I came away with a shoulder-aching haul of catalogues, business cards and fliers, most of which on closer inspection at home turned out to be completely useless, and an intense sugar buzz from all the samples of cake and booze. On a more positive note, I brought away with me the names of a couple of photographers whose style I liked, and a better idea of the kinds of wedding stationary available.
I’d like to try a smaller, more local wedding fair, or maybe one of the vintage fairs that are touring the country. Does anyone have any experience of those? Were they inspiring? Did you get anything out of the day? The National Show was fun, but did feel a little soulless.
So would I recommend the National Wedding Show? Well, yes, but know what you’re getting into. It’s a fun day out if you’re starting out with your planning and still in the first throws of wedding planning excitement. Go early, wear something light, take a sturdy shoulder bag and book yourself something relaxing for afterwards.
Tell me about your experiences of wedding fairs and shows. Are there any you’d recommend visiting?