Text by Chandra Orr

With so many vendors to visit and a slew of new ideas and trends, bridal shows offer one-stop shopping for all your wedding-planning needs. But they can also be a little overwhelming.

Before you walk through the shows’ doors, it is important that you know your budget.

Brides who have a clear vision of their wedding design and a firm grasp on their finances are less likely to enter “wedding overwhelm,” according to Judy Allen, author of “Plan a Wedding in Three Months or Less.” “It’s easy to go into a wedding-planning daze,” she says. “It’s important that brides spend the majority of their time meeting with wedding suppliers that fit their personal wedding vision, as opposed to being pulled in all directions. And taking the time to work out their wedding budget in advance will help brides know what is and is not financially feasible.”

“Bridal shows are full of new ideas, but it is important not to get too distracted,” says Patricia Westbrook, co-owner of Bridal Bazaar, which produces four bridal shows a year in San Diego. “Having a list can help brides navigate a large show and use their time wisely. It’s a bit like going to the grocery store.”

Before you go, check the event website. Most show organizers will provide a preview of vendors and a blueprint of the exhibits. Make a list of must-see suppliers, map your route before you arrive, have a list of questions for each vendor, and be prepared to take notes.

To make the day even more productive, consider the following:

Bring a set of sticky labels.

Include your name, wedding date, wedding location and contact information typed on them. This will make it easy to leave your information with vendors from whom you’d like more information. Bonus: Many vendors also do a giveaway that brides can enter by leaving their information.

Collect business cards.

Getting the names of sales associates, email addresses and website information from each vendor will save time when you’re ready to book. An easy way to do this is to grab a business card. But while you’re there, it might not hurt to ask if the vendor is offering a discount for booking that day.

Make time for the fashion show.

Get a sneak peak of the latest gown trends in real time by attending the fashion show. Here, you will better see if the gowns you like on paper have the same appeal as they do while worn and sashayed down the runway. The shows often include a men’s tuxedo and suit portion as well.

Sample the goods.

One great thing about attending a bridal show is getting to taste many vendors’ wares without having to fill up your calendar with appointments. Sample the food from caterers and sweets from bakers, and take notes of your favorites. If you happen to bring your fiancé with you, this is sure to be his favorite part.

Don’t expect to see it all.

If you get tired, feel flustered or hit information overload, it’s okay to call it a day. You don’t want to make any major decisions while you’re exhausted. Gather your things and head for home.

Above all else, have fun.

Bridal shows can be as entertaining as they are productive. So whether you brought your mom, bridesmaids or fiancé along with you, let the bridal show day be one of making memories while also making decisions for your big day!

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