Eight Lessons from the Plano Bridal Expo, Which We Went to for Some Reason

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word bride is defined as "a woman just married or about to be married." Seems simple enough. But as an engaged woman, I can tell you that they left a few details out of that definition, mainly this: as a bride, you are responsible for planning every single detail of this huge event, whether you really care about those details at all.

Restaurant menus stress me out, and now I'm supposed to make a billion decisions about table linens, floor plans and a bunch of other shit that I'm pretty sure they just make up to test your commitment to this whole marriage idea.

Regardless of whether you've had every detail of your big day planned out since you were 12 years old or you're more like me, it's possible that some time after he pops the question you will be attending -- or dragged -- to a bridal expo.

I braved the madness of the Plano Bridal Expo. Whether the idea of a convention center overfloweth with brides has you racing out the door to exchange notes and ideas or fills you chest with anxiety-filled dread, here are some tips to help you survive the bridal battlefield and the vendor vultures ready to pounce.

Read and learn, and you must, brave the Dallas Bridal Show on July 27-28 at Dallas Market Hall.

1. Step away from the flair Fight your inner attention whore and step away from anything that identifies you as the bride. Whether it's a pin, bracelet or sash, save it for the bachelorette party. Once you put on those accessories you become a walking target for each and every blood thirsty vendor in the building.

You'll learn a lot more by wandering around incognito with the ability to peruse at your leisure and get to know the vendors of your choice without being harassed with every step you take.

2. Think before you enter every drawing for free stuff I get it -- you're heading into debt trying to pull off the night of your life (which you'll be too busy making the rounds to enjoy properly). A free photography session, wedding consultation or makeup application could really help out your budget plan. But if you're planning a honeymoon in Paris, do you actually need to enter for a chance to win scuba diving lessons?

Keep in mind that for every table you sign up, the amount of additional wedding spam added to your inbox each day increases. And you probably didn't even win that free teeth cleaning. My recommendation? Create a new free email to use when entering these events. That way you can sort through your billions of new contacts and sort through the ones you're interested in, without surrendering your inbox.

3. Doctors and dentists are an annual thing -- not just before your weddings You'd be surprised by the number of booths occupied by orthodontists, dental practitioners and spinal alignment specialists. Not as many therapists, which is weird.

4. You can have a naughty bachelorette party despite your prudish maid of honor Slumber Parties will plan your last night as a free woman by providing you with all the amenities for an adult party meant to empower women to take control of their sexuality. Complete with every erotic toy you've never heard of, along with lingerie and bustier options.

Don't slut up the flower girl 5. It's okay (and actually recommended) for your flower girl to be prudish. Remember, her dress should match your wedding colors and theme, not your bachelorette party bustiers.

6. Look for vendors that will make your day unique It's easy to write off a lot of the booths as silly and unnecessary. But many are quite practical: photographers, planners, bakeries, etc. And some are just really cool. Enter: Cigar Art, an artisan and boutique cigar shop located in the Bishop Arts District.

Not only do these handmade cigars make great groomsman gifts, but they will even hold a live cigar-rolling event at your reception. Cigars made-to-order for anybody who wants them. Don't pass up the opportunity to learn more about unconventional ways to make your special day unique and unforgettable for your guests.

7. Get an inebriation station and first aid station in one The single most important factor that determines an RSVP reply. Is it open bar? Yes? I'm there! But if your friends tend to get a little out of control at the prospect of free booze, I found the bartender for you. A Splash of Class, professional mobile bartenders, are not only TABC certified but also CPR and first aid certified. Order your drinks from a first responder and let your inhibitions run wild.

8. Bring someone with you Scenario 1: It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and attention coming at you from every direction. Bring your most practical friend to reign you in from impulsively signing a contract or making a purchase you'll regret later. Scenario 2: Even the less impulsive need someone by their side. If the idea of potential vendors coming at you from all directions makes you want to hide in the bathroom, bring your most protective, outspoken and sharp-elbowed friend to play bouncer. Nobody gets past her unless you're actually interested in their services.

I had my groom-to-be in tow, dodging vendors and eye contact like it was a minefield. That works too, even if you end up eloping on the way home.

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