Fair | Fayre | Market | Workshop
What Type of Fair Should We Attend?
You're more likely to have a better experience attending a smaller, more relaxed gathering of unique suppliers who genuinely want to be part of your day, who have the TALENT and CREATIVE ABILITY to make this happen and whose aim is to provide a couple by couple tailored experience rather than a one-size fits all service. They are typically fun pop-up socials held in stylish, inspirational locations.
Why Should We Attend a Wedding Fair?
For most, a wedding will be a once in a lifetime event. Establishing a style, colour palette, mood (if you fancy doing any of that) can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you want? Hitting Pinterest + the blogs can be a useful starting point. However, these too can feel somewhat unstructured and unspecific to you. An advantage of attending a small fair is that it will be CURATED by passionate industry specialists who are connected to leading UNIQUE independent businesses who SPECIALISE in doing what they do.
Meeting a range of wedding suppliers on one day, under one roof can save you time. There are certain suppliers where personality matters and a face to face chat will be time well spend. Your photographer, film maker and celebrant / registrar / minister should be folks you connect well with. Consequently, meeting them at a fair can bypass the need for a Skype call and emails.
Figuring Out a Realistic Budget
Another way attending a bespoke wedding fair can help you in your planning is that they can help you figure out a realistic budget. Frankly speaking, weddings require financial investment. You can make immediate comparisons and draw up an 'essentials list' and an 'added extra if budget allows list'. Being realistic about how and why you want to invest in certain areas is an essential part of the planning process. If you've not already read 'How to Budget Thoughtfully' head there after reading this post.
Having gone through the process of planning a wedding myself, I did what most other engaged folk did at the time: attended 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 - an environment 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. That was it. The rest were indistinct.
Fast forward nine years, I now have very strong feelings about such 'shows' as an ex-bride and now wedding photographer. On the whole, many of these fairs are profit making enterprises which don't care or cater for the specific needs of couples. Why? Because there's little investment in helping couples connect with a truly curated group of talented suppliers who will help carve a bespoke experience.
Two years ago, I attended one of these large wedding fairs run by an organisation who promised they'd meet the following criterion: a limit 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 and such like. 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.
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.
A number of years on I have 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!"
Help Us? Where Can We Find These Truly Unique Wedding Fairs?
Delighted you've asked. Here's some of the best alternative wedding fairs / fayres / markets / workshops taking place in Scotland over the next few months. I'd recommend heading to one of them at the outset of the wedding planning process.