Over the past few months, I have been planning for a "first" for me... I've been planning my booth for my very first bridal expo!
In 2015, I second shot fourteen, yes fourteen, weddings with a fabulous photographer out of Springfield, Illinois, and Kate encouraged me to sign up as a vendor for The Elegant Bridal Expo. I loved hearing about her experiences and stories about the expo, so I knew it was something I wanted to try!
After signing up for my booth last September, I had to start somewhere. I had until the day of the expo, January 17, 2016, to execute my plans. With that, I started browsing Pinterest for setup ideas and inspiration only to quickly find that there are not a ton of photography booth ideas out there that people have shared. I found myself looking for resources and searching things like "wedding altar backdrop" and "home photo displays" to brainstorm ideas. With that, I wanted to create a booth that was unique while true to my brand, and I knew I wanted to share my experience on my blog so that I could help someone else prepare in the future.
When someone asks me to describe my style, I say the following three words... Natural - Simple - Lovely. So, I wanted to be conscious of both my brand and my photographic style while also showing my personality as a photographer. My brand revolves around all things pastel, soft, gold, and lovely! The word "cohesiveness" always comes to mind when I am making branding and stylistic decisions. I try to incorporate elements that are old and new, rustic and elegant. Finding my brand's style, building my brand, and sharing my brand through printed materials, marketing materials, and so much more is quite fulfilling. It is amazing to see everything in print and on display apart from my website, blog, and digital materials.
So, I started shopping (who doesn't love to shop?!) and gathering supplies. My lists were becoming endless and filling up my desk as I thought of idea after idea!
Here's a glimpse of only some of the supplies I needed for my booth:
- Sample Album
- Business Cards
- Handout Cards
- By Kara Wedding Magazines
- Canvas Wraps
- Doilies + Table Coverings
.....And the list goes on!
As you can see, planning for a bridal expo is no small task, but I found that at least having ideas and inspiration in the months leading up to the expo allowed me to make the plans in my head become reality!
My favorite time to shop for the expo was over Black Friday! I was able to order prints, canvases, and purchase frames for a bit of a discount over the shopping holiday. And after placing these orders, I had an even better idea of how my booth design was going to come together.
In terms of gathering doilies and table coverings, you could say that I am a bit of a "collector" of these items in my own home, so all I had to do was look through my collection and pick pieces that would compliment my brand! I added lace, burlap, polka dots, and simple cotton materials to my design with these items.
Soon enough, it was January and after I had placed all of my orders for my printed wedding magazines guides, business cards, and handout cards, I still had one large item to locate. That is, I still needed to find a backdrop for my booth.
My original idea, since becoming a vendor in September, was to find three old doors to hinge together to make a backdrop. Then, I planned to hang five canvases between the three doors. Well, truth be told, this was much harder than I expected. Finally, I found exactly what I needed, even though it wasn't what I originally envisioned! I visited one of my favorite rustic primitive shops in Gilman, Illinois, The Gathering, and found old shutters (the size of doors) in their DIY section. Thanks so much to Cathy at The Gathering for all of her help! I knew the shutters would work perfectly, and they were actually not as heavy as wooden doors! So, win, win for By Kara!
Luckily, these doors required very little work. My dad and husband helped me hinge the doors together, remove the knobs, add feet, and ensure that the shutters would be safe and sturdy in my booth. Thank goodness for their help!
The other furniture pieces in my booth were some of my own and some borrowed - I'm thankful that I have loved ones (thanks mom!) that are willing to loan me items to support my crazy ideas and dreams! These items were fairly easy to locate and gather, making the furniture one of the easiest aspects of my booth.
A few days before the expo, I knew I was missing one thing... Fresh flowers! I loved adding another subtle touch of pink with fresh flowers from Flower Shak in Watseka, Illinois. Marilyn knows my style and never disappoints!
I made a mock setup of my booth the night before the expo to ensure that I had everything I could possibly need, and it made the day of the expo run so smoothly! To be completely honest, I giggle thinking about this, but setup for my booth took less time than unloading/loading the materials! While there were quite a few parts to my booth design, it was easy and quick to assemble everything and make it all come together!
All in all, I loved the end result of my booth, and I loved meeting so many amazing brides, grooms, and their families and friends. My advice? Try something new. Go for it! You can plan, design, and make anything exactly what you want it to be! Time, planning and commitment, and even a little stress will all be worth it in the end!
Stay tuned for a blog post about bridal expo tips next week!