3 Must ask questions before you commit to a bridal expo

    My first ever bridal booth

    My first ever bridal booth

    So you’ve been considering booking a space at a local bridal fair to really jumpstart some exposure for your brand?


    You’ve heard that, done well, a bridal fair can help you rake in some great bookings?


    This opportunity could be exactly what you were looking for to break into the wedding industry and assert yourself as a pro?



    Good idea? Well, maybe not.



    Take a hard look at why you are booking a booth and what it means for your business.


    In other words, in order to justify the investment of booking a bridal expo you need to be clear on your expected ROI (return on investment) and no, “booking some brides” does NOT cut it!


    Did you know that booking space at a bridal expo can run a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on your market and the show itself? Now add in the cost of any promotional materials or elements to elevate the look and feel of your booth, and you’ve got yourself quite a little investment going on. After all the booth itself is the face of your business for this type of event, it needs to convert just like your website would (stay tuned this week for more about how to rock out your booth).


    When booking a booth your goals need to be more in depth than just to “gain exposure”. Exposure is great but targeted and effective exposure is better. Without a follow up strategy, an opportunity to catch and track leads, and something of value to offer your customers you could be sitting on a hefty bill without anything to show for it. Ouch!


    Libby&Jean Bridal Booth




    Below are 3 must ask questions you need to consider before booking space at a bridal expo to really make it worth your while:


    1.) Are you 100% clear on your products, services, and offerings?

    IMPORTANT! In addition to providing clarity to couples or businesses that may want to book your services or buy your products, you also need to be clear on what you do and do not do to preserve the longevity of your business and sanity of yourself.


    Point in case, the first bridal show I ever did with my accessory company, I marketed myself as the custom, artsy accessory designer that could do it all at great prices. Hmmm, was that in tune with what my business was about? No, not exactly. My accessory company was about reasonable pricing for custom accessories within a realm of overpriced cookie cutter-ness, yes, but where I screwed up was not being clear on what I did and did not do on those accessories. I ended up booking lots of orders from brides that day however, most of them were for requests to knock off what they had seen and loved at a bridal store but weren’t willing to pay for. I spent a lot of time after that show working on pieces that I didn’t love and my heart wasn’t into the work I was doing.


    Cue major burnout.


    What’s worse, I committed the cardinal sin of creative small business, I thought a newbie like me couldn’t command the prices of a more established business so I competed on price alone to draw in bookings rather than the skill, quality, and artistic vision of my pieces. When I broke down my pricing, I was practically paying people to “buy” accessories from me.


    Cue depression along with said burnout.


    I learned a very valuable lesson the hard way that show. You must go into the show already being clear on what your business is and what you do. It is easy to get caught up in all of the amazing work out there along with the prospect of booking amazing couples, but if you’re not careful, you can quickly wind up on a different path than what you intended. Being clear on how your business works, your pricing, and your offerings can ensure you are working with the right couples, doing work you love, and growing your business in a way that is in tune with the reasons you went into business in the first place. Because, the last thing you want to do is create another shackling “job” for yourself. Ensure your on the right path by getting clear on what you do (and don’t do!) well before you attempt to share it with others.


    2.) Are you clear on who your ideal market is?

    Besides stating the obvious (or maybe it’s not so obvious?) reason’s behind knowing whether to book your business a booth at a wholesale vs. retail bridal expo, you need to keep in mind who the intended audience of the show is and how that will impact your business. For the example I just shared, a bridal boutique looking to purchase gowns for their store is a completely different show than a bride looking to find her gown for her wedding. The obvious differences aside, a bridal expo appealing to couples getting married will also have an intended audience that you need to be aware of to best position your business.


    Pay attention to how the show has been marketed and positioned itself.


    A large bridal expo at a conference center highlighting all of the local vendors could produce dramatically different results than a smaller scale show held at a local vineyard with pre-qualified vendors and an interactive element for couples. Which one is the right one for you?


    Just because a bridal expo promises a “large turnout with great opportunities to get exposure” doesn’t mean that it is the best exposure for your business and therefore the best value for your booking. Consider your price point, your offerings, your business goals. These should all factor into whether or not a bridal expo or a particular show is a good idea for you.


    3.) Are you ready and willing to push past your comfort zone to follow up on leads?

    One of the benefits of participating in a bridal expo are the hot leads you gain by participating. Good bridal expos will have some type of registration process for collecting attendant’s information and upon completion of the show will provide this information to participating vendors. In addition to this list, you also need to be collecting information at your booth from interested parties.


    This information is the cherry on top of the sundae that is a successful bridal expo.


    However, if you have doubts about your ability or comfort level in following up, do not, I repeat, do not waste your time or money working a bridal expo.  This is a question that anyone booking a bridal expo needs to consider regardless of how many shows they have done or how many years they have been in business. You do your business and yourself absolutely no favors by putting yourself out there and then failing to follow through. What’s more is that if you’re customer follow up is lacking in any way, you could easily create a negative experience for potential clients which in essence is like taking the fast lane to No Bookingsville. Take an honest look at what your intentions are and what you are willing to do for the success of your business.




    Now, all of the above being said, these questions are not meant to be a deterrent from participating in a bridal expo. Additionally, I’m a firm believer in starting before your ready (it’s no fun to stay stuck in the what-if stage of your business forever), pushing past initial resistance to really engage to gain clarity around what you are doing and why you are doing it.


    However, if you answered no to any of the above questions, it’s worth it to take the time to get clear and confident about what your business stands for, what you stand to gain from participating, and if it is something your are willing to take seriously enough to get the best value out of.


    With the right mindset, the right amount of preparation, and the clarity within your business you can really propel your business forward, just don’t follow my example and propel your business into teary, angry, Ben & Jerry binge eating, work that you don’t love.

    Vintage Necklace


    Now is where I turn it over to you:


    Share in the comments what has impacted you on your yes or no decision to book your spot at an upcoming bridal expo. Have you learned some things about your biz? And in the process, some things about yourself?






    Friday Finds

    Marble Rye Photography via

    Marble Rye Photography via


    Another week has come and gone, another busy weekend about to begin with a bang.


    Time seems to be moving so fast.


    The leaves on the trees here in Iowa are already begining to turn colors and soon will paint the local scenery all ranges of red, orange, yellow, and brown. Although beautiful, it’s a sign that the summer will soon be moving on, which I am not sure I am ready for. Take some time this weekend to enjoy the season before it turns and in the meantime, dig in to the Friday Finds around the web below.


    Wed Gems

    A chic dinner party wedding + lessons learned

    Cute mini heart pinatas!

    10 David’s Bridal dresses that don’t suck

    A purple haired bride + a stellar lace gown + a fantastic ballroom = Swoon worthy!


    Hazelwood Photo via

    Hazelwood Photo via


    Biz Gems

    Stop banging your head against the wall, 40 Lessons learned over the years 

    Remember why you do what you do: Being present as a creative

    How to make every piece of blogging advice more effective – oh yes!

    Tips for staying ahead in the wedding industry


    Happy surfing!





    Biz owners are real people too, 10 real things you didnt know about me

    Sex & the City stoop

    How about we get real for a second? You could spend your time anywhere on this vast expanse of internet and yet you choose to be here. That is incredibly humbling and I will always be eternally grateful for your readership.




    In an effort to shine a light on who I am and how the journey of UnWhiteWedding has progressed to what it is and where it is going, I would like to share some things that prove I am human, just like you.


    The internet can be a shiny, dangerous place and if we allow it we can let it dilute our perceptions of what is real or not. So today, I have choosen to pull back the curtain and share a few real things about who I am minus the internet sugarcoating. As you read this, I hope you too are inspired to find out your real and true self and to embrace it. The magazines and blogs can paint a picture of perfection that is exhausting when your trying to keep pace with it. Join me below for some real facts about me, and I would love the chance to know my readers better, take a moment to share something real about yourself.


    Here goes…



    1. My mother is my hero. I grew up in a single parent home and will never ever be able to repay my mother for everything she has done for my sister and I. My mother taught us the value of hard work and a job well done, the power of a good hug at the end of a bad day, that following a dream will be tough but oh so worth it, and that you should never hold back telling the people around you that you love them. She is the strongest person I have ever met and I strive to be like her every day of my life.


    2. I gained my stripes running a prom store. Along with learning the fine art of negotiation, managing a prom store forced me to grow a back bone. Even if it’s a small one. Something about a 17 year old girl having a panic attack while simultaneously screaming nasty names at you forces you to be a big girl and handle things.


    3. My absolute favorite food is mac and cheese. Random I know, but important nonetheless. Oh, and root beer floats. A good root beer float can fix anything.


    4. I absolutely love to read and in when in doubt I will seek out any articles, books, case studies, you name it that I can get my hands on in order to understand something further. This has absolutely 110% aided my struggle with analysis paralysis in my business. This realization also helped me to shape my business into what it is today (stay tuned for where it’s going!).


    5. I get very defensive when anyone refers to millenials in a negative light. Millenials are a powerful market and we are not out to “ruin” anything. Change is inevitable and happens across all facets of life, anyone trying to find a scapegoat for change they are uncomfortable with needs to remember that. Ok, mini-rant over, but seriously if you have any doubts about millenials seek to understand their market power before writing them off. Liene Stevens of Think Splendid does an amazing job profiling millenials and their power within the wedding industry. I highly suggest you check it out.


    6. I am an extremely emotional person and I can get all caught up in my emotions when trying to express myself. It drives my husband nuts. This also means I am a crier, which also drives my husband nuts. I’m working on it.


    7. The first business I ever started was a total failure….and a total blessing in disguise (albeit a very painful blessing in disguise). This was also a lengthy period in my life in which I learned a lot about myself. Stay tuned, that one is a whole ‘nother blog post friends. But I can share that it did show me how to reframe failure into a motivator, a handy skill to have.


    8. I used to be habitually late, until my husband squashed that. While primping for a hot date my boyfriend at the time, husband now, finally got fed up after waiting for 45 mins, and left. He left and told me that we could reschedule if I needed more time. Um, what?! Instead of actually getting upset, I took a breath and chose to wake up. I found out instantly that the value you place on other people’s time is directly proportionate to the amount of value you place on that person. Long story short, if I don’t chose to value the time that others give, then I don’t deserve to have it.


    9. I am a multipotentialite and an ENFP. Have you ever found yourself struggling to get clear on your passions? Or, find that you have so many you are afraid to move forward with anything for fear of focusing on the wrong thing? Have you ever had your friends or family tell you to “just pick something already” and “you need to follow through on X before you start something else”. You need to meet Emilie Wapnick. I stumbled across her blog about a year and a half ago and have never felt the same. Her manifesto written to other multi-passionate individuals actually made me cry, her words were so powerful to me (see #6 above). It was the first time I really felt like someone understood me. Sans any judging or “helpful” advice, she states that you can create a life in which there is room for all of your passions and you don’t have to feel disjointed, confused, or ashamed of your multipassionate nature. If you have ever struggled with this, I urge you to check out her manifesto, it will change your life.


    10. I totally believe in the paranormal and used to have a slight addiction to the sci-fi channel. Used to, as in I have been able to regain some control and used to, as in it freaks my husband out. That being said, I love horror movies but refuse to go into haunted houses. I love a good tarot card reading and I have a ouija board that I am too terrified to actually use.


    11. Rules/traditions/stigmas aren’t really my thing. (Hence, why this list of 10 has more than 10 items, live large!) I prefer to bend the rules as I see fit and embrace change for change’s sake. I prefer to come about my beliefs in an organic fashion, one in which I draw meaning from my own experiences and am not too fond of “take my word for it”. I live my life this way and I prefer to run my business this way. Just because someone else tells you that’s how it’s done or that’s what is right, doesn’t mean that is what you need to believe or that is what is right for you. No one should be able to dictate your beliefs, values, morals, and best practices to you except for, well, you! Need some additional proof that business rules are made to be broken? Let me introduce your new hero, Ash Ambirge of the Middle Finger Project. Her tagline: Screw business as usual. Freaking awesome, right? Your welcome.


    So there you have it. 10, umm, 11 real things you might not have known about me. It feels good to pull back the curtain a bit!



    As I mentioned before, take a moment to introduce yourself below in the comments. Share something real about yourself.





    Newsflash: that failure your ashamed of is actually a breakthrough, here’s why

    Funky Grafiti

    Feeling like a failure sucks.


    Like your brand new car just got a dent in it, sucks. Or, your best friend just threw up on your brand new Michael Kors pumps, sucks.


    Yeah I know that visual is gross, but trust me, it sucks.


    Failure is one of those tricky life experiences. If we allow it, failure can make us feel things like weakness, regret, embarrassment all without even asking your permission to make you feel that way.




    Besides the side-effect feelings of failure, those that experience it are often left to pick up the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that was never whole to begin with. Now how the heck, are you supposed to complete the puzzle without all the pieces?


    Well, what if the pieces you do have show just enough of that final picture for you to get the idea?


    What if you could identify the holes based on what the puzzle looks like at present?

    Hmmm, I think we are on to something here.


    Reframing failure into a learning opportunity, possibly very painful opportunity, but a learning opportunity none the less. (Ok, I know that sounded corny, but just stick with me here) We are going to use your failure as a method in which to get clear on next steps so that the painful feelings we mentioned above were not felt for nothing.


    So the launch of your rave new product or service you’ve spent copious amounts of time and money on opened up to crickets?

    So you got a poor review of your product you worked so hard perfecting? Or, your services for a wedding that you poured your heart into?

    Maybe you poured your heart into a business concept that turned out to be something you didn’t enjoy?


    Well, contrary to what your fears are telling you, it’s not the end of the road. Let’s take a look at those puzzle pieces, shall we?


    If your launching to crickets, maybe you need to take a look at your marketing and promotion strategy. Did you tell a handful of your best friends and blast the sign up info on Facebook to no avail? Well, are you sure that those folks you shared your launch or product information with were really your target market? Did you really do all you could to build reinforcement for your launch? How many touches did you extend to your proposed clients and furthermore, did you have a clear call to buy or sign up?


    What about if you got a poor review, what can you learn here? Maybe the communication strategy wasn’t strong enough, or maybe it was too much? What if they didn’t understand your contract terms because maybe they weren’t as clear as you first thought? Or maybe they don’t exist at all? What’s more, were they the right clients for you?


    And what if you just feel completely derailed. Sometimes figuring out what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what makes you abundantly giddy to do. Additionally, why do you enjoy what you do? Is it because it’s an outlet for you, and once converted into a business is no longer enjoyable? Do you have the necessary skills and confidence that you need to push past the tough stuff?


    I’m not pointing fingers here, really. I’ve been there, I get it. These questions might be tough but you’ll never gain any clarity without making decisions and acting on them.


    Next time you launch, will you be more informed? Oh hell yes.


    Once the initial sting wears off, a perceived failure can hold a lot of truths that maybe you didn’t see the first time around, or maybe you didn’t want to see them. Whatever the case may be, take an objective look at your “failure”. Hone in on any trigger points that you feel may have impacted why you did not get the response you were looking for. Make adjustments and course correct accordingly. Something to keep forefront in your mind is that everyone starts as a beginner. You choose which lessons to pay attention to and you choose how you will allow them to shape you.


    Don’t allow a “failure” to derail you from success, happiness, and fulfillment. Instead use it to drive you forward, it’ll make your success that much sweeter when all of your hard learned lessons become just as valuable on your journey as the end result.


    To your success.


    Take a moment to share a “failure” you’ve struggled with and any lessons you learned along the way. You never know how your words can help someone else struggling to overcome their own battles.