Attend the Show Like a Pro

Emma Frankart Henterly
A model shows off a gown from White of Dublin.

The annual Columbus Weddings Show can be intense for those who aren't prepared. Two days, 200-plus vendors, runway shows and more—it's no wonder some to-be-weds feel a bit overwhelmed. Columbus Weddings spoke to celebrity wedding planner David Tutera, who will make another appearance at the show in 2018, to get his advice on avoiding overstimulation and making the most of your time at the largest bridal expo in Central Ohio.

No. 1: Know What You Want

“Any couple going … needs to be very clear with what their expectations are,” Tutera says. “Are you going in for inspiration or are you going in for actual connection to potential vendors that you'll hire?” Newly engaged couples will be on the inspiration end of things, he adds, finding ideas about style and theme at the show and leaving with the tools to start planning.

Tutera compares the process of wedding planning to building a house: your engagement is the foundation; core services like venue, entertainment and photography/videography are the pillars or frame; and smaller vendors are the walls of the house. “A lot of people going to wedding shows—especially this one, which is very large and informative—sometimes wind up picking the walls of the wedding home first, before they have the pillars up,” Tutera cautions. Focusing on smaller details like a photo booth or limo before you have the pillars in place can lead to blowing your budget.

No. 2: Dress for Success

The most important part of your wedding show attire? “Comfortable shoes,” says Tutera. You will be walking or on your feet for most of the day at the show, so high heels probably aren't the best option. Similarly, uncomfortable clothes and a large, heavy bag will definitely detract from your enjoyment of the show.

No. 3: Choose Your Companions

“Do not bring an entourage of people,” Tutera says. “I think it's important to have—I call it the committee—I always tell couples that they should pick three people in their lives to support them.” Your committee could include a parent, wedding party member or sibling—anyone whose opinion you trust and who can you bounce ideas off of. The temptation to bring a large group can be high, but try to resist it. When you have too many people with you, you end up wrangling them instead of enjoying the show, Tutera explains. “Having done so many of these shows, and having done my own as well, [I notice that] the bride almost gets lost in the equation.”

No. 4: Use Your Time Wisely

“My recommendation would be to hit it fast, hit it hard … and don't stay for eight hours,” Tutera says. “It should really, honestly not feel like it's a task. It should be kind of fun.” You can maximize your time at the show by planning your route through the vendor booths before you dive in. If you're looking for a specific vendor or two, you can grab a map at the entrance to the show and mark which booths you need to hit. But if you're just looking for inspiration or still need most of your vendors, Tutera suggests picking a side of the room and working your way to the other side methodically. “Your automatic reaction is to walk in and go straight, and that creates confusion,” he says, adding that working from one side to the other helps you remember what you've seen and where it is in the room, in case you want to go back.

Another way to make the most of your time at the Columbus Weddings Show is to come armed with a few key questions for the vendors you're interested in learning more about. Tutera recommends just three: How long have you been in business? Do you do multiple weddings in a weekend or a day? And, what makes your business unique compared to your competitors?

“That should give you enough insight. You can go online,” to get more information on any vendor after the show, Tutera says. “Every vendor that you're considering by looking at them at a booth at a show, go to their website and see how good the quality is there.” Ultimately, he adds, you shouldn't need to spend more than five or 10 minutes with any vendor. This isn't the time to interview your photographer to make sure your personalities mesh; it's a time to gather information about many different vendors to compare later.

No. 5: Have Fun!

Remember, this should be a fun experience in your wedding planning journey, whether you got engaged two weeks before the show or two years prior. As he did last year, Tutera will give a stage presentation at 2 p.m. on both days of the show. “I'm always beyond thrilled to be on stage and speaking to as many people as possible, and show them … what I can guide them to in [terms] of style,” he says. Guests will have the chance to meet Tutera and take a photo with him immediately following the stage show both days.

New this year will be two giveaways for chances to meet and chat with Tutera. Six lucky winners and their guests will get dinner with him at a to-be-determined location, where they can ask for styling advice for their big days. Radio station Sunny 95 is teaming up with the Columbus Weddings Show to give away a full styling session and makeover with Tutera as well. The lucky bride-to-be will walk away with a wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, accessories and even shoes and jewelry from Tutera's own bridal line.

Also returning this year are two daily runway shows featuring looks from White of Dublin, Off White, David's Bridal, Henri's Cloud Nine and Men's Wearhouse, as well as the chance to win fabulous prizes to help make your dream wedding a reality. Be sure to keep an eye on columbusweddingsmag.com and our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds for more details as January approaches. 

How to Attend the Show

When: Jan. 13, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 14, 2018, from noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Cardinal Hall at the Ohio Expo Center

Cost: $10 advance purchase or $26 for a three-ticket Squad Pack at cbusweddings.com; $12 at the door. Parking is $5, cash only.