Thinking about increasing your client base with a local bridal exposition?

After graduating college in December 2022, I decided that I was going to take my photography more seriously. I registered as an official business in the state of Kentucky, invested in updated client management programs, purchased a brand new lens, and opened a business banking account. The last step for me - upping my wedding game.

I saw one of my fellow photographer friends posting about a local expo and I decided to check it out. Throughout this blog, I will detail my experience from start to finish - because trust me - it required a lot more investment and planning than I originally thought.

Step 1: Choosing the expo

A lot goes into choosing the specific expo. Which one will generate the most profit? Which one will provide me with my desired client base? While searching for expos, I wanted to make sure that it was a popular and well-reviewed event. I ended up going with the Southern Kentucky Bridal Expo that took place on January 22nd, 2023. The SOKY Expo was reputable and organized - this would be their 9th annual exposition.

In addition, I noted that there was a wide variety of vendors - from venues, decorating services, gyms, photo booths, DJs, catering services, wedding planners, and of course - photographers. I knew this selection will draw in hundreds of brides, as it is truly a perfect time to knock out the stressful and tedious task of vendor selection.

Step 2: Securing your booth

After I decided that I wanted to go with the SOKY Bridal Expo, it was time to secure my spot on the vendor list. I had a couple of choices: single booth or double, hallway or premium space. After much deliberation, I chose a single booth in a premium space for $600. Since this was my first time participating in one of these events, I wanted to make a good impression with the brides as well as other vendors. Also, I knew that if I only booked ONE wedding, it would cover the cost of the booth and then some - so why not invest in a great space for the potential for more exposure?

Step 3: Designing your booth

By far my favorite part of the expo, but where to start? I had just spent $600 on the booth and I had little money remaining in my bank account due to the study abroad trip I took to Spain in the summer (totally worth every penny) and a semester of unpaid work while student teaching. However, I scraped up my remaining 2022 photo deposits and income, along with the money I received from graduating from my gracious family, and went to work!

I scoured Pinterest day and night until I came up with a couple of ideas that I felt would represent my brand perfectly. I knew I wanted something clean, simple, white + black, and with greenery. I eventually landed on these two designs:

Great! Two awesome designs - but here's the kicker: I live in a college apartment, I do not own a single tool, I do not own a truck for transport, and I certainly do not even know where to begin with any sort of handy work. So what now?

Well - and here is where it gets sappy (sorry in advance) - while I was home for Christmas break I mentioned that I was participating in a bridal expo to my grandparents. Immediately, my grandpa offered up his help with building me a display and my grandma was all for helping me decorate, one of her favorite past times. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders at that moment - I trusted them fully.

I went back to my apartment in Bowling Green a few days later and received a call from my grandparents. My grandpa informed me that he did not think would be able to get the first design all the way from Hamilton, Ohio (where they live) to Bowling Green, Kentucky (a 4-hour drive). I knew this would be an issue, but I tried to remain positive that I could possibly find a solution. That is when we decided on the second design. We discussed some of the specifics - such as the size and construction of the display, and then they offered to drive it all the way to Bowling Green for me, just in time to help me set it up in the expo space.

After this, it was out of my hands. I hoped that everything would go okay, that there wouldn't be any major issues or design flaws, and I asked for updates nearly every day. I was worried when the first construction they built had already broken while they were working on it - the wood snapped. Thankfully, my innovative grandfather decided to try again with different materials. This time, everything was going well!

My grandfather found a cabinet and used that for the base - I truly did not know how he did it, and I won't even try to guess - but it looked amazing. The first images that I got from my grandparents during the process looked like this:

My dad and grandfather working on the display! I appreciate them so much <3

The back of the display

The final product

Seriously - How did he turn THIS into THAT??

In the meantime, it was my job to get the rest of the decorations and table layout. I remembered watching a YouTube video in the early days of my expo planning process. The guy talked about how brochures were the way to go instead of business cards. His reasoning was that the brides will be carrying a lot of things from a lot of vendors, therefore, a brochure is less likely to get lost and overlooked. Additionally, you can have more information and a full pricing guide on the brochures that will encourage participants to look into your business after the event.

Check out his video for more expo prep help!

If you are going to do a brochure or business cards, I recommend doing them EARLY! I ordered my brochures on January 2nd and received them on January 13th. Not too bad, however, it could have been a stressful situation if I waited a little longer. I ordered 250 brochures from VistaPrint for $195. I included all of my pricing packages with examples of my work, an about me section, and a QR code for them to book on my website. I 100% recommend doing something like this for your expo - it really does make it easier for the brides to see what you offer.

The next step in the designing process was getting the decorations and the table set up. Connor and I went to Hobby Lobby to choose some flowers, greenery, and signage. We ended up purchasing 2 beautiful garlands, 1 chalkboard, 1 green charger, and 2 kinds of faux flowers. My grandma offered to bring a few vases, another chalkboard, a white sheet for the display, clear risers, and extra florals.

I also ordered this sign from Etsy. I painted it black myself so that it would ship faster because I was worried about the time. The company shipped out the sign within 1 day and I received the sign 3 days later! I could not recommend this company enough for all of your sign needs (:

The last step in the process was working on my display photos! I knew I needed a bigger image for the display and some smaller images for the table. Because I was strapped for time, I ended up ordering all my prints from Walgreens, and I must say, they turned out pretty good. I used extra frames I had around the apartment and I purchased a poster frame from Hobby Lobby.

I also created a flyer on Canva with a QR code that led them to a Google Form. On the form, I asked for their email and wedding info (side note, this is not required to get bookings and I do not recommend it, the day was very chaotic for the brides and most were too overwhelmed to complete the form). For this flyer, I used a floating frame and stand from Walmart.

Important to note: I opted to use the black tablecloth and background drape provided by the expo. They were included in the price, so I did not have to purchase them! I also used a lamp and lights that I already owned, which helped with my budget.

My total price for decorations came to around $150.

Step 4: crafting a giveaway basket

If you take away anything from this blog, let it be this: MAKE A GIVEAWAY BASKET!

To enter my giveaway, brides had to follow my Instagram. Throughout the day, whenever someone would follow, Connor would write their Instagram handle on a raffle ticket and put it in a bowl. I received around 80 Instagram followers from the giveaway - which is a great way to interact with the brides, even after the expo. They get to see my work and stories and start to build a connection with me on my most popular platform.

For the basket, I found a local small business on Facebook Market Place and we came up with a design for a cup. I totally recommend @laurenelisehandmadedesigns if you are in the Bowling Green area! This cup was what pulled in most of the brides and made them want to enter the giveaway.

In addition to the cup I purchased: a basket (of course), a small photo frame, a photo album, scrapbook stickers, and a candle. I also added a small gift card for a free engagement session.

Total price of basket: $75


It's finally here! Time to put everything into action. One thing I was not expecting was the immense amount of movement from the room. It can get very chaotic! My best advice is to smile, talk confidently, and ask questions. The day went by QUICK! The entire time you will be talking, passing out brochures, and answering questions.

One piece of advice I can't stress enough: NETWORK!

Expos are the number one place to get to know your community and build connections with other vendors. Trust me - it's important. I even walked around and recognized a couple of venues that I will be photographing in the future, and took note of the other services so I can recommend them to my clients in the future. I have already had a few vendors recommend me to their clients! As a wedding photographer, you are a part of a community. Being kind will get you a long way (:

Another suggestion I would make is to keep your pitch simple. I greeted each bride and asked if they were still looking for a photographer. Even if they were already booked, I would give them my brochure and talk about my giveaway. You never know when they will have friends or family members looking for a photographer!

Step 6: After the expo

Now that the expo is finished, your work is over, right? Well, not if you want bookings! Oftentimes, your expo host will send you an email with the complete list of brides that includes their wedding date and venue. Use that to your advantage! Reach out if you have an opening and see if they still need a photographer. Moral of the story - never. stop. marketing.

If you made it this far, thank you! If you are new to the expo scene and are unsure of where to get started, I hope this helps (: If you have any more questions, reach out! I am glad to help.