How to Survive Your First Wedding Fayre as a Supplier
I posted a while ago about Peacock + Pearl doing our very first wedding fayre - one minute I’d just agreed to supply leaflets for goody bags, the next thing I knew I had a stand to display our products! Beforehand, the idea filled me with dread. We’re an entirely online business after all, we don’t regularly see people face to face. What if no one stopped to talk to me? What if I didn’t have the right set up? What if no one liked what we do?
I tried to do research on what I’d need before I went, but found it really hard going. The main problem was that I hadn’t even been to a fayre once, not even when we planned our own wedding! There was very little information for suppliers online for what we would need, or even just advice on how to set up for a wedding fayre.
So, now I’ve had time to reflect, here we are. This is advice for makers and suppliers on how to plan for and survive your first event, including everything I wish I’d known before the day!
be prepared for a lot of hard work
This isn’t the first thing to scare you. It’s a notice - it ended up being a lot more work than I was expecting. Not only do you have to make sure that you have all of your best selling/favourite/newest products finished and ready for the day, but if you’ve never done this kind of thing before you need to make sure you have your set up organised and ready.
timing is essential
I made the mistake of agreeing to do an event that was less than 3 weeks in the future. Just that fact took all the hard work I’d need to do and added a whole extra dose of stress, because now I had a pretty close deadline. It went fabulously well in the end, and I was lucky, but it’s not an experience I’d be keen to repeat. It’s not like these events are particularly cheap to attend as a supplier, so please learn from my mistake - book yourself onto something well in advance of it.
You don’t need to add to your workload - you already run a business!
check out your venue before the day
Does your venue lend itself to a specific style? Our bridal accessories are a bit more out there than standard run-of-the-mill bridal fair and we definitely don’t fit at the traditional shows. Thankfully, I knew that we’d be at home with the rest of the suppliers because we’d booked at The Urban Wedding Fayre, run by The Urban Wedding Company. They’re specialists in weddings that are just that little bit different, so we were already off to a good start.
The venue for our first fayre was Fairfield Social Club in Manchester. I’d never been before, and in fact I didn’t even know it was there! I was especially glad I did my research though, because this wasn’t anything like what I was expecting. It’s tucked away under the railway arches, and as a result it’s a cavernous, industrial space. I didn’t go to look at it in person, but I did do a fair amount of Googling for photos! As a result, I tailored my props to be a bit more industrial, to fit in with the atmosphere. I knew to ask questions about power socket availability so the organisers could assign me an appropriate table (I had fairy lights and there aren’t always that many in old buildings) - and I also knew to take a coat!
don’t take the kitchen sink
I had absolutely no idea how much stuff I could fit on my table, absolutely none. As a result, I took far too much! I nearly made myself more ill trying to get everything I wanted to show ready beforehand, and it really wasn’t necessary. I had to admit defeat!
For an event like this, where no one will actually be buying any of your stuff - people don’t want to spend ages at your stand. They just need enough to give them an idea of what you do and who you are. To see if you have the ability to make what they’re looking for, and if you fit their style.
Seeing how much stressing I was doing before the day, my husband had the best idea of all - to take an iPad. A tablet, or a laptop if you want, allows you to put photos of your whole inventory on a slideshow for people to see. For me, this meant that attendees could see what my work looks like styled on an actual person - I didn’t have to dress all my friends up and send them wandering around the venue or anything!
people like a special offer!
I knew I’d need to take business cards to hand out, that much was a given. What only occurred to me pretty last minute was that I could use those to give a special discount for those attending the event, as a way of encouraging sales!
I was able to design and buy some small square stickers with an explanation and the discount code on, and stuck them to the cards. I got a lot of comments about how good it was, and is definitely something I’d repeat for the next one.
there will always be something that doesn’t work out as you expect - don’t worry about it!
For me, this applies to my AMAZING pre-fayre idea to display some of my beaded crowns and headbands suspended in my industrial wire display boxes. To do this, I took some nylon thread and scissors (I was proud of myself for remembering and being prepared). I thought it would be a simple task to loop this around the products and tie it off at the top of the boxes.
WRONG: I spent the majority of my set up time fiddling with the stupid thread, to the point that I was still doing the final touches when the first of the attendees started coming in. The only product that anyone wanted to actually try on was (obviously) one of the suspended items, so I had to cut it off and try and rearrange it artistically afterwards (did not work). To add to that, it took me an age when I got home to untangle it all from around the beads! Totally not worth it. But now I know, and despite the fact that it did look ok, it’s not something I’ll repeat! You live and learn.
relax and enjoy it!
I’m a HUGE introvert. In general, if I can get away with an email instead of a phone call, I will. I find talking to strangers really quite a challenge, especially when before the event I had no idea what to say to them.
I learnt very quickly that it will all be fine! I let the first people do all the talking, and I answered their questions. After 4 or 5 encounters, I’d got an idea of the main things people wanted to know, and I was confident enough to start chatting to those who might otherwise have walked straight by.
If you pick your events carefully, you’ll automatically be in front of the right audience. I discovered that no one there wanted standard bridal fair - one lovely lady spent a while telling me about her gorgeous gold dress! I got a lot of fabulous compliments, and it really helped me to know I was on the right track, and there are people out there who want what we make. If that’s not a boost to any business, I don’t know what is!
I hope my experience is helpful! If you’ve had any similar experiences or have any questions, send us a comment!