What to Expect from a Wedding Fair During Coronavirus
The wedding preparations and plans of many couples have been changed by coronavirus. Whether it’s been virtual venue tours, digital dress shopping or remote meetings with suppliers, wedding preparations in 2020 have looked very different. Wedding fairs have also, inevitably, been affected by COVID. These events are often perfect for couples to tick off several items on their planning ‘To-Do’ lists, but lockdowns, social distancing, and bans on any type of exhibition, mean they cannot take place as they normally would.
However, these events are being adapted to go ahead in a COVID-secure way in the Spring. Thanks to the creative ideas of organisers, couples have still been able to attend a wedding fair, even if they are slightly different. Here’s what you can expect from a wedding fair during coronavirus…
Are Wedding Fairs taking place?
A few – but not in their usual format. Bans on anything classed as an exhibition and limitations on interactions between households have inspired wedding fair organisers to improvise. Most Fair organisers don’t want to put exhibitors, couples or venues at increased risk.
Virtual Wedding Fairs
Throughout lockdown, Guides for Brides held a weekly Wedding Fair Live on Facebook with thousands of couples joining every week to watch the virtual venue tours and hear from different suppliers. The videos are still available on Facebook for anyone wanting to check out a particular business.
At the start of October, Bridelux Atelier – one of the UK’s most exclusive wedding shows – held a virtual event over multiple days. Guests could buy tickets to attend talks from industry experts, see the latest trends and make choices about their own wedding plans, all from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
We are expecting to see more of these more sophisticated virtual events, as conference and meeting software advances, although there is nothing quite like meeting suppliers face to face in a stunning setting.
Wedding Open Days
Not quite the same choice of suppliers you’d see at a wedding fair, but a wedding open day is an opportunity for couples to see around a venue and find out more about the venue’s recommended suppliers.
The venue is set up as it would be for a wedding and you’ll book in for a particular time slot to arrive and be taken for a tour of the venue, incorporating an opportunity to see the work of suppliers such as a florist’s table displays, a wedding cake or photographer’s albums. You’ll be accompanied by the wedding coordinator who’ll answer any questions; the suppliers wouldn’t usually be there.
Wedding Fairs held as Meetings
The closest you’ll get to the old style of wedding fairs is where the fair organiser is able to run it under meeting regulations, rather than as an exhibition, as the Government does not want people moving around an exhibition.
The Meeting Industry Association (MIA) explained how this might work in practice: The only business events allowed to go ahead are those where delegates remain seated at all times. Meeting “delegates” (in this context it would be couples) would need to be seated in numbered seats for the duration. Individual exhibitors would have timed slots within which they can show their wares or present their service. There would need to be a strict cleaning routine between each exhibitor slot and delegates (couples) who leave the room must return to their same seats.
Some local authorities have permitted other events to go ahead with a slightly more relaxed view of the regulations. Attendance is available by appointment only, there are only a very small number of exhibitors and a limited number of couples, keeping the total number, including event organisers and venue staff, to under 30. Couples can book appointments to move around the room, taking it in turns to speak to individual suppliers. Attendees are discouraged from touching anything on the stands and can’t be offered anything to take away such as cake samples.
For those who like to meet their suppliers before booking, and let’s face it, that is a really important part of choosing who you involve on your wedding day, these events are going to be really helpful in the Spring. However, for the organisers and exhibitors it will be incredibly hard to make them even remotely financially viable and most feel they are simply too risky for all involved right now.
The focus now is on ensuring these events can happen safely in the Spring.
5 Ways to Prepare for a Wedding Fair During COVID
1. Arrive on time
If you have been allocated a time it should mean that you won’t need to queue. It is important you stick to your time slot, or be prepared to wait.
2. Prepare for all weather
Be prepared to queue outdoors, so bring a coat or umbrella in case the heavens open.
3. Prepare some questions
You will probably only have limited time with each supplier. The organisers should be able to give you a list of the suppliers who will be at the fair. Research them online in advance.
4. Don’t expect food and drink
Any suppliers who would normally provide tasters, for example cake makers, won’t be able to hand out any samples. You will probably not be offered a drink at the event, so it’s a good idea to take a bottle of water.
5. Remember the essentials
You need to have a face covering with you and wear it at all times. Remember to bring hand sanitiser with you and gloves if you would like to. A notebook may also be handy in case suppliers aren’t allowed to give leaflets or business cards.
What to do if You Have Concerns or Questions
If you’re worried about the safety of a wedding fair that you’re attending, you can check the government guidance. It is down to everyone to work together responsibly to allow as many fairs as possible to go ahead, within the rules, so that we can demonstrate they can be safe and viable.
You can also ask the venue questions, if you’re worried about any measures they’ve put in place. Organisers are working hard to make sure that their events are as safe as possible so will want to hear of any concerns.
For further information on getting the most from the opportunity to see the wedding fair venue too, check out our guide to viewing wedding venues during COVID.
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