So I went to my first bridal expo recently.

I was sucked into checking it out by one big four letter word: FREE. I am a sucker for free stuff. Who isn’t?!? Buying yourself a peppermint patty is nice, but getting one for free-99 is even better. This is just an indisputable fact.

I was looking at one of those wedding websites, and stumbled across a list of upcoming events in my area, notably one that was happening at a local golf club. And it was free. And better yet, if you were one of the first 50 brides to show up, you got a bag of free stuff. The event started at 6:30, but for a fleeting moment I considered leaving work just a titch early so I could be one of the first ones there. Never mind the fact that I get off at 5:30 pm and the golf club was only 15 minutes away. Don’t stand between me and free swag.

I talked a friend of mine into joining me, and it is a true testament to her friendship that she didn’t flinch when I asked her, but loyally signed up for the adventure. So off we trotted, ready for free stuff and bridal mayhem.

You can bet your sweet rear end that I got my free stuff!!! I think I was number 10 in line, and granted I’m pretty sure the swag bag was just a marketing play, and any bride that showed up was going to get one. Unfortunately, the swag was mostly coupons and fliers. Boo. It did come in a semi-cute bag, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The expo itself was actually not bad at all.  It was not a huge event, probably no more than about 20 vendors offering everything from jewelry to officiants to dance instructors. In one of the golf club’s banquet rooms there was a little area set up to look like it would for a wedding, complete with harpist. There was a server going around offering themed cocktails, called the “Honeyoon”. Vendors gave out chocolate, pens, random stuff. The officiant was giving out free nail files, which was a little weird.

One thing I noticed straight off upon arrival was the number of dudes that were there for the event, accompanying their fiancees. Clearly they’d left their man-cards at home. I mean, I love it when D comes with me to stuff, but really? Bringing your guy to a bridal expo? While you’re at it, why not make him grab a purse and join you at the hair salon?? First of all, why would he enjoy that (not the salon, but the expo? but then again, he probably would not enjoy the salon either)? Secondly, what kind of wimp must he be to actually go to that without complaint? And finally, how did these dudes survive this event without stabbing their own eyeballs out?

Am I being too harsh on the dudes? I don’t really think so. There was a HARPIST there for heaven’s sake!

Another thing I noticed fairly quickly was that there was not a lot at the expo that represented services that I needed. After visiting tables for videographers, caterers, table linens and chairs, the only two things I think we really need from the expo was a dance instructor and a stationary company. It’s so nice that our wedding package with the cruise covers so much: cake, champagne, officiant, music, flowers, linens, an officiant. We can even book a photographer through them, and the whole shebang comes with a wedding coordinator. It’s kinda nice,  and pretty much means I’m wasting most vendors’ time at events like this. But I make good use out of the free stuff they give me! I gave D the free chocolate and already ready used that nail file I from the minister. It’s still in my purse right now. Everybody that loves free stuff say whaaaat!

There is another bridal show coming up in July, one of the bigger ones in Central Florida. I think this one will be my second (and last) bridal expo. I’m bringing a bigger entourage this time too, my bridesmaids are coming along for the ride, so we can divide and conquer the freebies better. 🙂 Who knows – maybe in the process I’ll discover other things I need, but when being honest with myself I know that I’m only going out of curiosity to see what a bigger show is like, and also for the free stuff. Did I mention I’m a sucker for free stuff??

I mean, who wants to pay for nail files and pens when you can get them for free-99? 🙂

– renee