Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Wedding Shows vs. Open Houses


A lot of my coaching clients often ask me about wedding shows and if they should participate in order to increase their visibility and attract more clients. It’s also one of the topics that I discuss with them during my coaching programs because wedding shows can make or break your success. Today I will be talking about the differences between wedding show or expos and venue open houses. They look the same as far as opportunities to put you in front of potential clients however, they are very different from each other so you should do some research before you decide to participate in one. This week I will be talking about pros and cons of each one, and next week I will be sharing the step-by-step process in order to rock at wedding shows and / or open houses.

Benefits of exhibiting at wedding shows / venue open houses:

  • Exposure (Promote your company, your brand)
  • Meet prospective clients
  • Have something to talk about on social media

Risks of exhibiting at wedding shows / venue open houses:

  • Trade shows require at least a day and probably more of your time.
  • Displaying at a trade show can also be costly.
  • There will probably be quite a bit of competition at all shows.

Let’s take a look at the differences.

[bctt tweet=”Should you exhibit at a wedding show or at a venue open house? Learn the differences ” username=”SabrinaCadini”]

Wedding shows

* Fee – Wedding shows are normally produced by companies specialized in this type of event. Therefore, they charge a fee for a booth to the exhibitors ranging between $600-$2,000 depending on the geographical area and the level of show production. You will spend more for corner booths than i-line booths because of the bigger visibility, and of course for larger size booths. Your booth usually includes a table and two chairs plus draping and / or a division between your booth and the other exhibitors. Also, you might need to pay an extra charge if you need power for special lighting / on-site printing / slideshow display on your monitor
* More than one vendor per category – Unless you are exhibiting at a very small show, you will have other colleagues exhibiting and reaching the same couples who will stop at your booth. Make sure that vendors belonging to the same category will be spread out at the show, you can discuss this with the show producer
* Target Market – Research the best show that fits your target audience: Are your clients high-end or low-budget? Are you specialized in rustic, simple weddings or ballroom / fairytale celebrations? Multi-ethnic? Do you attract same-sex wedding couples? Pay close attention to the show’s demographics and see if it’s your niche. Do you want to attract any wedding couple or do you have a specific kind of couple and wedding style you’d really love to work with? You need to know your specific target market and promote yourself to that market otherwise it’s a waste of time (and money). If you live in a small area you might need to look for shows in nearby cities but if you live in a large city then you should have some choices as far as types of wedding shows.
* Optimal promotion – Wedding show producers are usually well-connected in the industry and they have great presence online, they are also able to promote through their website, local blogs, magazines, TV and radio channels. Again, these are professional organizations specialized in wedding shows so, depending on their experience they have a solid structure to promote the event before and during, and also after because they do this every year (and some shows are offered multiple times a year).
* Booth sharing – Most of the times (if this is an established and experienced show production) this is not allowed, the show organizer will require that each exhibitor pays for their own booth. You can help each other with décor and products but you both need to have a paid booth. Double check with the producer BEFORE the event to avoid unwanted surprises
* Mailing list – This is a little tricky situation. One of the advantages of exhibiting at a wedding show is getting a list of all the wedding couples who signed up on the show’s website and who attended the event. This list will be sent to you a few days after the show and you can follow up with them to promote your services however, I would strongly suggest that you create your own at the show for two reasons.

  1. You need to make sure that the list you will receive complies with anti-spam laws. Technically, you can only e-mail couples who have agreed to be contacted by you. If you reach out to couples who have not opted in to receive your e-mails they could report you to your email provider and they can freeze or even close your account. Always make sure that the list you will receive complies with CAN-SPAM laws
  2. If you exhibit at a large show chances are, you won’t connect with all of the attendees (maybe some of them don’t need your services so they won’t stop at your booth during their visit) and you will end up following up with couples who don’t want to be bothered and they will report you (back to point 1).

I will give you some ideas on how to create your own mailing list in my blog post next week.

Venue Open Houses

* No fee – The hosting venue’s goal is to get prospective couples to visit the property and hopefully book it for their wedding, not to make money from your participation. Some of them charge a small fee ($100-150) that covers costs and labor for the room setup, promotional materials (postcards, flyers, etc.), food and beverage at the event, and sometimes power if you need it
* Selected vendors (1-3) per category – Hosting venues will invite only their preferred vendors to exhibit. They know how professional and experienced with weddings these vendors are and they know they will do an excellent job
* Specific target market – When you are exhibiting at a venue’s open house you will meet with wedding couples who are interested in that particular location or style of wedding and, if you are an invited preferred vendor you know that your ideal client will be there
* Limited promotion – Unless they’re experienced in open houses, hosting venues are not massively promoting other than on their social media channels and on magazines or blogs where they are advertisers. They always encourage their exhibitors to share the information on their respective media platforms to amplify the message
* Booth sharing – Again, the hosting venue is not trying to make money from their open houses because it’s not their main business, they just want to offer an experience to the couples attending and at the same time promote their preferred vendors. Therefore, booth sharing is sometimes encouraged in order to present fabulous displays where rental companies join forces with florists, bakeries and stationery designers, for instance). Very important: don’t forget to recognize the vendors in your team if the couples ask, they spent time and money to make you look good!
* Mailing list –  Some venues will share the mailing list with you, some others won’t. Always double check if this is the case before you sign the agreement with them. It’s very important that you are prepared to collect your own leads at the event so that you can follow up with them afterwards.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week (I will also broadcast on Periscope) that will be dedicated to the before, during and after show / open house.I will also share a template that you can download and use for your own company when you exhibit at a wedding show or at an open house.

By the way, are you following me on Periscope? The Wedding Planning Success Lounge is every Wednesday at 11:30am PT. Watch and be inspired!

~~~ TAKE ACTION ~~~ Have you ever exhibited at a wedding show or open house? If not, would you like to try? Look for shows or open houses in your area and attend one to get a good feel and decide if it’s the right thing for you

~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ Share your previous experience at wedding shows / open houses: Did they work for you? What did you like / dislike? What would you do differently?

Have you scheduled a Clarity Call with me yet? LET’S CONNECT TODAY to bring success to your future!


  1. Rina Giglio

    HI Sabrina,
    Your sight is amazing! What an inspiration. Love to hear from you. Looking to create more exposure and would love to pick your brain and gain your expertise. Call me at 858-759-6219 at the Rancho Valencia Resort. Ciao Bella

    1. Sabrina Cadini

      So good to hear from you, Rina! I’ll connect right now 🙂

Add A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.