Wedding Fairs – Worth the effort?

My esteemed Co-Director of Floating Fish and I decided a while back to dip our fins into the world of wedding fairs in an attempt to boost sales of personalised wedding speeches.

The first thing that struck me, was the insistence of all fair organisers to describe the events as ‘Fayres’ in an ‘Oldy Worldy’ kind of way. Perhaps they felt that it added a little glamour to the way it sounded. Perhaps it was to make the events sound more long-standing or seriously traditional. For me however, it sounded annoying. Every email that I sent therefore, had the spelling as ‘Fair’. Every reply had the spelling ‘Fayre’. And so we had it – a locking of horns before I’d even signed on the dotted line.

But sign I did, and reserved my stall at a local football stadium. “How lovely to have a speech writing service instead of the usual cake and photographer stands!” enthused Sally – my eager and pleasant contact, “I look forward to seeing you then”.

The day of the fair (fayre) then. True to her word, we sat amongst photographers and cakes, with the odd disco man, formal hire and wedding ring sales (which was the stall next to us). Oh, and a popcorn stall (it seems that it’s the fashion nowadays  to deformalise small areas of even the most traditional wedding).

We were  definitely the new boys in town – all of the other traders new each other well, and took all the proceedings in their stride. One stall, selling all kinds of wedding tatt, took the majority of the show time setting up their stall without really getting much customer interest. Then they took another hour taking it down again. It suddenly occurred to me that the beautiful and intricate cakes were not for tasting, just for looking at. Why would you do that? They may look stunning yet taste like the bottom of a gerbil’s cage. I personally, wouldn’t risk it. Maybe I’m cynical.

The ring stall intrigued me. It was by far then most popular stall of the day. It worked like this: the company had no premises so could pass on their savings to the customer. The two (lovely) ladies would show off their wares, make appointments and visit the future brides (and their future spouses whether they wanted it or not) in their own homes. They must have made fifteen appointments. “What sort of percentage of sales are we talking about from these appointments?” I asked.

“About 95% of people we visit will buy.” She replied.

95%. Gosh. A conservative estimate of £700 each visit then. It turned out that the ladies did wedding fairs every weekend (and weddings aren’t even that seasonal any more).

“How long have you been doling this then?” I asked, genuinely interested.

“About three years. We have day jobs too,”

This confused me. Surely a service this popular could provide a comfortable salary without having to work in an office from nine to five? Then I realised. The two ladies were reps, on commission only, seeing only a tiny fraction for their hard work. Now it made sense. The owners were definitely winning.

And then to us – Floating Fish, we got a fair bit of interest. Having free cakes as an incentive was probably a mistake as people thought that was our trade (at least you could eat ours), but the biggest surprise was this: Floating Fish avoided doing wedding fairs previously, as we felt that it would mainly be men who would use our service (Grooms and Best Men) and that brides wouldn’t be interested. In reality, the Brides made their future husbands take one of our cards. Usually qualifying the decision with: “You are taking one of these. There is no way you are writing your own speech!”

So, Girl Power is alive and well and living at a wedding fair near you. Worth the trouble? Only time will tell, but it was a definite experience!

Excellent Speech Writers.


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