On Sunday my mother and I went to the Bridal Showcase that was held at the Patriot Center on George Mason's campus. The showcase featured vendors covering every aspect of wedding planning from venues to laser hair removal. There was even a fashion show of wedding dresses however there was only one dress in the whole bunch I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in.
I went to one of these bridal events many years ago with my sister in law when she was engaged and it was just as overwhelming as I remembered. It was pretty cool to meet vendors in person that I've been checking out online and even having the chance to taste some food and cakes from various caterers/bakers.
One of the main reasons I went was to enter all of the contests/sweepstakes that the vendors offer. Some of them I won't find out about for a week or two while other drawings were done that afternoon. As it turned out I did win 10% off of photography with one of the photographers there. My mom and I had briefly chatted with him before the drawing was done. Apparently he's pretty new to the business and right now is only able to do it on the side but he seems very passionate about photography and is hoping to make this his full time gig. Because he's so new his pricing is already very affordable and with the 10% discount I don't think I could find a better offer. This of course doesn't mean I've decided on him 100% but it's definitely something to consider. When I got home and I checked out his website and his portfolio was pretty good. As I told my mom I think one of the biggest benefits of using a new vendor (besides lower pricing) is that I think they will try harder because they are working to grow their business. This isn't to say that larger, established vendors are slackers who don't care, but if you're dissatisfied with their work it probably won't affect them quite as much.
Another great thing that came of our day was that we discovered a new venue I had never heard of, which is amazing considering all the internet research I've done. It's a resort down on the Northern Neck of VA, right on the water. We figure it's about an hour from Kristian's parents beach house. It's very spacious with various spots on site for a reception and from what I can tell so far the pricing doesn't seem too bad. I mentioned it to Kristian and he seemed excited about checking it out one weekend when we go to visit his parents.
Overall it was a great bonding experience with my mom and I walked away with a lot of useful information and some cool door prizes.