Here’s What to Do—and What Not to
By Frank J. Andonoplas, MBC™

Bridal shows are a great opportunity for wedding consultants to meet new vendors and see new trends—all under one roof. Still, as with any social event, there are rules of etiquette that must be followed to avoid the type of gaffes that can tarnish reputations.

Avoid unethical behavior
For example, for the last few years I have produced a high-end wedding event/bridal show for one of Chicago’s top hotels.  The event is very “boutique” and is meant for brides, grooms, and their families.  The entire room is vignettes. There are no vendor booths as is common at other bridal events.

While we explain this to those registering, we do still get a few consultants who attend. This past year, two women reserved and did not say they were wedding planners.  While attending the event, they approached brides, passed out small gift bags hidden in their large purses, and openly solicited business. One of my current clients witnessed this and told me after the event.  When I received the names of these women, I immediately called my Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) state coordinator who confirmed they were not ABC Members.  When I tried to contact the consultants via email, phone calls, and finally, registered mail to express my dismay, I received no return communication.  The action of these two consultants illustrates completely unethical and unacceptable professional behavior.

Simple rules for event etiquette
So just what is acceptable behavior for attending a bridal fair, show, or event that you have not produced? Here are a few simple guidelines:

  • Seek permission. Before the show, call the individual or company producing it and ask if it is acceptable to attend.  This way there are no surprises.  If they say no, respect their decision, and do not register under an assumed name.  Some consultants might be offended that their competition is coming and taking their ideas and resources. Likewise, vendors who are displaying, may want to invite their lead list, but should check with the person or company producing the show before inviting other consultants.
  • Make a courtesy call. If you are attending the show with a current client of yours, please tell the consultant who produced the show, and/or any consultants participating in the show, that this is a client you have already contracted and that s/he is there to see other vendors that are displaying.   This will avoid an awkward moment.  A courtesy call to the event producer is appropriate. Respect the decision they give.
  • Do not solicit business. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to approach prospective clients attending the event and pass out business cards or collateral material.  Those participating may have paid a great deal of money for this marketing opportunity, and it is not professional to market yourself when you did not pay for this opportunity.
  • Be respectful. When you meet the event vendors, introduce yourself and get their contact information. Tell them you will call to meet with them one-on-one.  Be respectful of the vendor’s time as they need to meet hundreds of prospects who are attending the event.  This will go a long way with the vendor, and when you schedule an appointment, you will have more time to learn about their services as well as they to learn about yours.

When attending bridal shows and events, the bottom line is to treat others as you would like to be treated. Those are words to live by.

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