There is one thing a bride never has enough of – time. From the moment you get engaged until the day you get married, you will probably log hundreds of hours and endless miles. Take heart – there is a great time saver that allows you to shop for everything you need in one place, and at very little cost – it’s the bridal show. Good bridal shows have a variety of bridal vendors who exhibit many of the services and products you need to create a perfect wedding. At these shows, the brides-to-be are the guests of honor and the total focus of the vendors. They are eager to provide you with information and advice, free samples, and often, discounts.

Sacramento Bride and Groom offers these tips for getting the most out of your bridal show experience:

Bring pre-printed labels with your name, address, email, phone number and wedding date

Use sheets of labels from the office supply store that you print yourself. Even regular mailing address labels with your name and address are better than nothing. Having labels or a stamp eliminates the need to write this information every time you register with a vendor to win prizes or to receive information. Especially useful for those whose handwriting is “challenging”!

Create an email account specifically for wedding related communication

Give this email to show vendors instead of your regular email address, then just close it when it’s no longer needed.

Bring a friend

Your mother, your maid of honor, a bridesmaid or, best of all, your fiancé. It’s to your advantage to include him in as much as possible from the beginning. He’s also perfect for carrying the big load of information and samples you’ll be gathering!

Grab a bag

As soon as possible, find a vendor who provides them. You’ll need one to carry goodies.

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Take the time to talk with vendors

Don’t be shy! Vendors are there to talk to you! What better way to get a feel for how well they might be able to work with you? You can’t get that from a visit to their website. Even if you don’t end up hiring them, you just might pick up some great ideas that you haven’t thought of. Plus, many vendors offer show specials that will save you money.

Register for everything

Sure, you’ll get put on lots of mailing lists. But you’ll get lots of discount offers and specials and one (or more) just might come in handy! Plus, lots of exhibitors will have a giveaway. Someone’s going to win it, maybe you! You can’t win if you don’t sign up.

Keep a camera handy

Dresses, table settings and decor, flowers, accessories…get photos of anything that catches your eye. You can refer to it later when you are deciding on the details.

Attend at least one fashion show

The bigger shows often feature a fashion show, and the fashion shows are often the highlight of the day. It may be the only time you and your companion will have an opportunity to sit down! When you see a gown you like, be sure to make a note on the program so you can remember which vendor to go back and visit before leaving the show.

Things slow down toward the end

Typically, the crowds thin out in the last hour or two of most shows, especially at the smaller ones. Getting through the aisles is easier (a consideration if you bring a large group, need to deal with a stroller or have a harder time getting around), exhibitors will have more time to spend talking with you and the overall feel is a bit more relaxed. But beware – sometimes a long (4 hours or more, in the case of a small show), sparsely attended show will shut down early. So don’t wait too long!

Remember, not all shows are created equal and its a good idea to plan to attend more than one. The big crowds at the largest shows can be overwhelming and a deterrent to having adequate time to talk with vendors. On the other hand, shows that are too small may not offer much variety in the services you need to plan your wedding.

Last, but not least, keep an open mind, have fun and be sure to reward the friends and family you bring along with a treat afterwards!