Wedding Fairs

A wedding fair (or fayre – take your pick) is an interesting concept.  It is there purely for the planning of a wedding.  It can be held at a specific wedding venue or at a conference centre such as the NEC or Olympia (The National Wedding Show).  There are also fairs that cater to specific themes such as “A Most Curious Wedding Fair” (they even allow you to take your dog which gets a massive thumbs up from me!)

The quality can vary with each venue that you attend but the important thing is to be prepared.  It could be an idea generating exercise where you see different suppliers and their offers.  It could also give you ideas as to what you would like for your big day.

As a supplier, my perspective may be a little different to the consumer, but it does ultimately come down to what your aims are if you decide to attend one.

Why are you going to the wedding fair?

Are you in the final planning stages and needs specifics for a wedding in as little as 3 months or are you just starting to plan for your big day which might be up to 24 months away?

You need to have some idea of why you are going to the fair.  As a photographer, I have been to both small and national fairs to research because prior to this, I had never been to one.  My specific aim was to find out how many photographers attend a local wedding fair and how many attend a national wedding fair.  How were they advertising – were there any common themes for example?  I didn’t have a specific objective but I knew what I wanted to achieve from the fair and I came away with mental notes about what would and wouldn’t work for me if I was a supplier at a fair.

A national fair such as the National Wedding Show at the NEC had a fashion show aspect which you won’t get at a local venue.  Brides to be, were able to try on dresses at the fair which saves them going from bridal shop to bridal shop to find the perfect dress.

There were outfitters for the grooms too and the fashion show included morning suits (albeit far fewer than the dress options!).

Benefits of Wedding Fairs

You have the opportunity to compare different suppliers’ offerings in one place.  If we take a national fair for example (which usually includes an entrance fee) and allocate a number of hours to the day, then you will come away with possibly a supplier in mind for the bride and groom’s outfit, ideas for a wedding venue, a list of photographers to choose from, stationary ideas, cake makers and what I term ‘miscellaneous’ where there is something that you wouldn’t normally consider, such as candle displays or arcade games.

So it’s a great way of building the framework for your day and giving you a basis for planning.

It also means you are saving on travel costs of going from supplier to supplier if they are not local.  Most photographers for example, will travel nationwide but bridal boutiques are dotted around the country so it can be a little more time intensive going from boutique to boutique.

Disadvantages of Wedding Fairs

There can be sales pressure where a supplier will only give you a ‘special offer’ if you book with them at the fair.  This can put pressure on you if you’re not sure about something especially if booking something isn’t the reason you went to the fair in the first place.  It’s easy to end up spending money these days and weddings are generally costly events.


It’s definitely a good idea to attend a fair because it gives you a basis for your planning.  It can also bring things to your attention that you may not have thought of before.  Until I attended The National Wedding Show at the NEC, I thought that local wedding fairs would have the edge but going to the wedding show at the NEC and seeing the variety on offer was definitely a plus.

A local venue however, is more intimate and the suppliers advertising may be preferred suppliers for the venue.  This is a lovely badge to hold because they know the venue and what is expected.  It may also prove less of a headache to you because organisation may be a little easier.  The flip side is because they are so used to the venue, people can sometimes work on auto-pilot and you may feel you’re not always getting the best value for money.

So, go to at least 2 local fairs (generally free entry) and if you can, 1 national one, be that The National Wedding Show, Brides Up North, National Wedding Fayre, National Asian Wedding Show etc.  Or if you know specifically what you want, then it is much easier to decide where you want to go (or not as the case may be).

And ask lots of questions!

So in conclusion, a wedding fair may help you to deal with different suppliers in a defined period of time.  With time being a constraint for some, this is probably the biggest benefit for going to a wedding fair.  That and hopefully coming away with some researched ideas for your big day!