Photo by Jonathan Borba.

Once that ring is on your finger, your mind buzzes with possibilities for the dreamiest wedding ever. A terrific place to start is browsing through bridal showcases, where vendors are ready and willing to help guide you through the many options that are out there.

The experience can be overwhelming for a newly engaged couple. Don’t let the term “bridal” define your expectations. These showcases welcome all kinds of couples, weddings and ceremonies.

These tips will help you navigate upcoming wedding shows (see below for details), make the most of your time — and generate some fun along the way.

Photo by Emma Bauso.

1. Create a wedding email. This will enable you to keep all of your bridal details together and prevent messages from getting lost within your personal email. Once messages begin advancing your way, you can create folders to keep things even better organized.

2. Sign up in advance. Sure, you can show up at the door and pay admission, but advance registration will save time once you arrive. Some offer front-of-line access, an advance discount price and VIP seating for fashion shows, among other benefits.

3. Print address labels. You don’t want to lose time filling out forms to win a honeymoon, photo shoot or spa treatments. Your labels should include your name, address, your new wedding email and the projected date of the wedding.

4. Do your homework: Check out the wedding shows beforehand and consider your needs. Some provide a showcase for a specific venue with curated vendors. Others are huge and take an everything-under-one-roof approach that welcomes up to 1,500 guests.

Photo by Fu Zhichao.

5. Eat a hearty breakfast. Yes, you will be sampling tastes from caterers and pastry chefs. You will want to enjoy those delicious bites while avoiding a queasy stomach from sugary cake overload.

6. Dress for endurance. You’ll be on your feet for three to four hours, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing that moves. Keep your hands free with a crossover bag.

7. Carry a tote bag. Bigger wedding shows greet you at the door with a swag bag to get you started. A sturdy tote bag will be handy for the many brochures and information packets you will collect.

Photo by Wallace Araujo.

8. Bring your special guy or gal. Partners have opinions, too! They are certainly welcome to attend wedding shows where they can consider tuxedo or dress styles, DJs, menus and honeymoon destinations.

9. Snap photos along the way. Wedding shows offer lots of ideas you might want to consider for your big day. Photos will help you remember the highlights that caught your attention. Take notes, too, to help remember the vendors and services that catch your eye.

10. Travel with your entourage. Bridal shows often offer discount prices for multiple guests. Your besties can be supportive with ideas and point out themes, color palettes and floral displays you might not have considered. Those discussions can be priceless. (And those pals can share the load of carrying handouts!)

11. Watch for on-the-spot deals. Some vendors offer today-only specials with big savings. Be prepared for the sales pitch and keep your head in making decisions that will lock in services for your date.

12. Be open to inspiration. You likely have an idea of your wedding that’s been developing since your Barbie married your brother’s GI Joe. Keep an open mind for new concepts that just might be perfect for you and your partner.

13. Ask questions. Don’t be shy about asking for specifics on prices and options. Vendors are eager to discuss their services and will give you a chance to get personal with people who click — or don’t. Follow up afterward to connect and make appointments with businesses that struck your fancy. You will want to firm up dates, which can book up quickly.

Photo by Leah Kelley.

A season of wedding shows

March 4, 1-5 p.m. and March 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Wedding Expo, Live! Casino Pittsburgh, Route 30, Westmoreland Mall. The casino’s first-ever event for brides-to-be will feature local vendors and displays and show off the casino’s new event space, The Venue Live. Admission is free but register online.

March 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.: Cavanaugh’s Wedding Show, DoubleTree Meadowlands. More than 55 wedding professionals will be set up to help with wedding plans. Brides receive a free Cavanaugh BrideBook Wedding Planner. All brides and grooms will be offered a free set of JVL wedding bands and a free SymbolyzeIt Acrylic Glass Portrait. Admission is $10 online, with discounts for multiple ticket purchases in advance. Admission at the door is $12 (cash only). 

March 26, 5-8 p.m.: Bridal Showcase, Bella Terra Vineyards, 121 Sunny Lane, Hunker. Sip a free glass of wine while meeting vendors, viewing the space and rental items, and taking a tour of the winery. Admission is $5 online.

April 2, 12-4 p.m.: Pittsburgh Bridal Showcase and Women’s Expo 2023, David Lawrence Convention Center. An estimated 1,500 people are expected to this giant opportunity to browse and shop all things bridal and check out the best honeymoon offers, fashion shows and latest innovations. The Women’s Expo brings an element of pampering and health to the day. Admission is $20.

April 22, 1-5 p.m.: Bridal Open House, The Terrace at Hyatt House, SouthSide Works. Relax with food, drinks and music at this waterfront venue. Wedding planning staff will be on hand to answer questions, along with preferred vendors, such as event rentals, photographers, florists and caterers. Admission is free, but registration is suggested to reserve a spot.

May 21, 6-9 p.m.: Bridal and Event Showcase, Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Visit with some of the top vendors in the region, take in a bridal fashion show and sample delectable bites. A specialty mimosa cash bar will be set up. All guests will be entered into a drawing for a free shower or ceremony rental. Registration is free but strongly recommended.

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Sally Quinn

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!