This post is going to be rather candid in tone and thought. It's not my intention to offend. My aim is to be HONEST in the hope of helping you folks carve out the truly unique, CREATIVE wedding you deserve.
Having gone through the process of planning a wedding myself, I did what most other engaged folk did at the time: made for the very large Scottish wedding fair. Did I enjoy it? It was ok. I didn't know any different. Nine years ago, the ALTERNATIVE scene which I'm wholly steeped in didn't exist. I connected with a couple of TALENTED suppliers who helped us with aspects of our wedding.
As a wedding photographer, I now have very strong feelings about such 'shows'. On the whole, I don't do fairs UNLESS they are a) small b) the emphasis is to help couples connect with talented, creatives. A year past May I attended a large wedding fair run by an organisation who promised their fair would meet that criterion: that there wouldn't be too many photographers attending; that exhibitors wouldn't be crammed in. I paid the exorbitant fee - £600 for my stall, £50 for electricity and another £400 for business cards, prints and other marketing materials. Going against my gut, I showed up to find that a) it was saturated with photographers and b) we were crammed into a terribly hot marquee setting. It was a complete rip off and I wasted two precious days of my life; similarly, those attending were ripped off. Couples were herded into the space and fed the lie that to have a successful wedding this is what you need - teeth whitening, weight loss programmes etc. They were hit with the hard sell. The reality of these events is that they're run by a body seeking to make a profit, a large profit, and don't care about any in attendance. I should add a proviso that we all need to make money to survive. That said, I believe that we don't have to do that by taking a quick fix, lazy approach to whatever sector we work within.
Now, I'm incredibly strict with how I invest my time. I have two young children whom I adore. It has to be a wholly worthy reason to spend time away from them. I now only involve myself in small wedding fairs that are run by folk who have a genuine PASSION for creating an experience that truly CATERS TO THE NEEDS of their suppliers and couples.
Heading up one of Scotland's leading alternative wedding fairs is Heather Masterton. She is the boss lady of the wonderful blog, Braw Brides, and has a burning passion to connect like-minded individuals. Here's her thoughts on why she's decided to put on a wedding workshop (note the non-use of fair!) which challenges the direction of the large, mass market events synonymous with wedding planning:
"I vividly remember taking four female members of my wedding party to one of the biggest wedding shows in Scotland not long after we got engaged; it was terrifying. I was overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the whole thing, the barrage of information coming at me from all angles, about everything wedding. Everything I should have at my wedding... should I have this at my wedding? Do we need this at our wedding?
What did I leave that show with? SO.MUCH.STUFF. Bags of leaflets, business cards, and magazines and not a single clear idea in my head about how to go about choosing or booking a single supplier for my wedding.
Fast forward a few years and my blog, which celebrates everything Scottish wedding, is starting to grow a following and the Wedding Workshop is born. My vision for the workshops was for couples to feel like they were actually building a sketchbook, a mood board, a list, a mind map, whatever way you want to do it, for their wedding. I want them to build a relationship with every single wedding professional there who actually cares about their wedding day; I want them to leave thinking they’ve met some lovely talented people, and how they would actually want those people personally involved in their wedding. I want couples to see how a small Scottish wedding business works; it’s more often than not one creative person doing everything, and when it is one creative person doing everything, they are usually doing it because they love it, and because they want to work in Scottish weddings, with lovely couples, and create exciting things for them.
The Wedding Workshop is a small, and specifically targeted event because I wanted to avoid couples having the overwhelming feeling I remembered from that first big ‘cattle market’ show. I also wanted to show off the real people behind these creative businesses and encourage suppliers and couples to build relationships with each other. My passion is connecting people and the workshop is very much a reflection of that. I want couples to see the endless options for their wedding day and be able to build something themselves, adding their own personalities into their day. We are so lucky to live in Scotland and to have so many beautiful locations and flexibility in our wedding choices, and we have an obligation as wedding suppliers in Scotland to show that to people!"
Incidentally, the next Braw Bride workshop is THIS Sunday.
If you're keen to get away from the onslaught of the market average, here's a note of forthcoming wedding fairs WITH A DIFFERENCE. Click on the link for full details:
Sunday 2nd April // 12-5pm // West, Glasgow
Thursday 6th July // 5-8pm // The Lighthouse, Glasgow
Sunday 24th September // 12-4pm // Kibble Palace, Glasgow
Sunday 4th September // 12-4pm // Sloan's, Glasgow