Hosting a Successful Bridal Event

Thinking of hosting a bridal event or show? Three experts with a combined 50 years of experience in the bridal arena offered their advice recently at the Third Annual National Bridal Market Conference in New York, hosted by The National Tabletop & Giftware Association. Here are some of the tips offered by panelists Kim Havrilla, Noritake; Roseanna Robinson, Pfaltzgraff; and Sandy Taylor, Wilton-Armetale.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! Do it well in advance, and don’t skimp on any aspect of the event.

  • Ask potential guests to RSVP in order to ensure better attendance.

  • Have plenty of help. Being understaffed can be embarrassing—and noticeable.

  • Post signage for events. “I’ve been in [department] stores where nobody knew there was even an event going on because there was no signage,” says Havrilla.

  • Round up enough people for the event. Signage and advertising will help ensure success in this step, as will RSVPs.

  • Consider hosting a Friday-night event. “They can be fun events for couples—date nights,” observes Robinson.

  • Keep in mind that sales related to a bridal event may not occur until months later, so don’t expect to see sales the day after the event.

  • Consider hosting a fee-for-attendance event. The experts say there’s a big difference between one where there’s a fee and one that’s free. When there’s a fee involved for attendance, attendees are “serious shoppers … have a definite interest in your products … aren’t just there for a door prize … spend time with you … and are hungry for information,” according to the bridal experts. (Note: If charging a fee makes you uncomfortable, consider making the event a benefit and donate the fees to a local charity.)

  • Encourage brides to fill out extensive registry lists. Tell brides-to-be, “You’ll remember who gave you a gift—that’s what the gifts are all about [remembering the gift giver],” says Robinson. “But you won’t remember what you did with the money if they give you a check.”

  • Show consumers how to use products. “Many people didn’t know you could cook with Armetale, so it’s easy for us to have great cooking events,” says Taylor.

  • Offer a specific and focused incentive for brides to complete registry lists after weddings. “I recall one store that offered couples a 20% discount on registry items not bought—plus all other merchandise—for four hours only on a specific day,” says Havrilla. “The store made $50,000 on those shoppers.”

  • Follow up with event attendees. Phone them to see if they had a good time, thank them for coming, and ask if they have any other questions.

  • For more information about The National Tabletop & Giftware Association, contact executive director Tony DeMasi at tableware@juno.com or call (856) 227-6802.