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I'm getting married in Chattanooga in 2013 and plan on going to the bridal shows this year. What advice do you have about checking out the wedding venues and vendors at the bridal shows?  I've not lived in Chattanooga for very long and I don't know anybody who has gotten married here. Do you have any wedding vendor recommendations? My mom and I are planning my wedding. Do you think we should consider hiring a professional wedding planner? I'm just very excited right now to get everything lined up and to make sure my wedding day next year is going to be perfect.

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Hi Carrie,

Thank you for your questions about Chattanooga bridal shows. I think like most everything else, there are pros and cons associated with bridal shows. Your own personal preferences and situation may dictate more than anything what you might consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of a bridal show.

My first advice is do NOT rush into planning your wedding. And if you have to ask if you should consider hiring a professional wedding planner, you probably should since feeling overwhelmed (maybe from rushing yourself) is why you felt like asking that question.

But feeling rushed is not the way to go about your "pre-wedding experience". It is true there are brides-to-be who want to "soak in" the entire "engagement & pre-wedding experience" which often includes bridal shows, but as I mentioned bridal shows aren't exactly perfect.

The biggest thing to watch out for at bridal shows is the bridal registry.  Often times the exhibitors at bridal shows will pay more money to get a copy of the phone numbers, e-mail addresses and street addresses of all the brides who registered.  Considering the exhibitors usually pay more to get this, they (not all of them) will hound you with mails, phone calls and letters or promotional materials after each bridal show.  AND . . . it doesn't matter that you may have already hired the vendors and venue you wanted already.  So if you go to another bridal show and register, you will be putting yourself through that process again of getting lots of spams, junk mail and sometimes even visitors knocking on your front door.  This situation is made even worse by the fact the "list of leads" as they call it, has as much as 30% errors or listings which are no good. This makes the venues and vendors who paid for that kind of "leads list" feel they must work harder on the "good" leads they got.  (Of course, little do they know that many of those so-called good "leads" have already hired).  But this doesn't matter because the bridal show managers have not installed a system of checks and balances to help ensure a smoother leads generation program for ALL involved.

Also something else that might be worth your noting. Those venues and vendors which spam you to death and send junk mail even as far as two months after the bridal show - probably have got problems.  You see, the best venues and vendors often do NOT even go to bridal shows because they are so well booked before bridal shows to make it worth it for them to attend. The wedding planner at the Weddings & Events Network office has a list of great venues and vendors which enjoy such great reputations.  Wedding vendors and venues which are calling you all the time and spamming you are probably NOT very popular, over-priced or poorly managed. These are probably the same people who you will often see at the bridal show using high pressure sales tactics to try to get you to hire them right then and there at the bridal show. I know of several venues and vendors which do not even pay for magazine advertising.  All they have are websites. Word of mouth and great reputations have earned them this status.  This is why some venues and vendors you often see at bridal shows are also new businesses just starting who have not yet established themselves.  

- John


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I have over 30 years of experience. 12 years portrait studio experience. I can comprehensively answer questions relating directly to the art, science and business of photography and the portrait studio business. Photoshop and other photo editing software.


Over 30 years photography and about 4 years working as a portrait photographer for a studio in Chattanooga and eight years as a portrait studio owner.

I have attended numerous workshop, seminars and photography conventions over the years. I continually self-study from my library of over 100 photography, video, digital photography, photoshop and other books.

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