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Wedding fairs, fayres and bazaars

03 March 2014

Something I learned this year is that late summer is wedding fair season.  Who knew?  When @Libbylovescake and I got married in 2009, I was spared having to attend the fairs as she went with her mum and sister.  But having now exhibited at five fairs in the last two months with Cin Cin, I am sure I would have found something to interest me.  They are very positive gatherings – fiancées are gushing with excitement, parents are happy and proud and exhibitors are eager to explain why they put their heart and soul into their products and services.  Everything seems to shine brighter at a wedding fair.  Here’s a round up of the ones Cin Cin appeared at this summer:

Belle’s Vintage Wedding Fair, Hove Town Hall

Parked up on the forecourt, Cin Cin was front and centre for her wedding fair debut.  Sitting between Caravan Photobooth and Plum Campers, we really did have pride of place outside the entrance.  And this was the start of a weddingly friendship as we ended up exhibiting with both of these suppliers later in the year at other fairs.  It really is like being on the road with the circus!

Kelly of Belle’s Vintage is the personification of a positive vibe.  Always smiling and keeping everyone happy, her passion shines though.  That was immediately obvious to me when we first spoke about Cin Cin getting in on the wedding game.  Kelly was full of advice and help, especially when I had to send Libby in my place to a suppliers networking night Kelly ran with Helen of Doily Days.

We met some lovely couples and lots of fantastic suppliers on the day.  As it was our first appearance at a fair, it took a little while to find our voice and get our spiel flowing.  The offer of free Prosecco to brides on the day and samples of our antipasti helped but it’s amazing how shy people are, even for free food and booze!

Sussex Barn Wedding Fair, Hellingly

I cannot recall how we came across Sussex Barn but we are very glad we did.  It’s set on a family run working farm in Hellingly just north of Hailsham.  As this was Cin Cin’s first gig outside Brighton, this posed a new challenge – how to get there without using the A27?  The answer, taking the coastal road to Seaford then up over the Downs through Alfriston and out through Upper Dicker.  It was the long way there but it saved Cin Cin’s little engine from pushing up the big hills on the more direct route!

Rachael and Lucy started Sussex Barn when a few years ago they cleared out the barn so that their family friends could get married there.  After doing so they realised they had a great venue for Sussex brides through the warmer months while maintaining the working farm.  It’s a great story of an unplanned success!

We were very happy to see Gary and Angela of Caravan Photobooth set up there too, especially as their kids provide constant entertainment with the fancy dress items that come with their booth.  The barn was set up with exhibitors inside and we had antipasti and Prosecco samples on offer to give the masses a happy arrival.

Footfall is always a key question for these fairs.  You are paying to exhibit so you want to be seen by as many people as possible.  But quality as well as quantity is equally an issue and we had lots of quality that day with almost every attendee stopping to see Cin Cin and have a chat about what were doing.  It really was a nice day out, particularly with all the positive feedback on our offering.

Belle’s Bridal Bazaar, Unitarian Church Brighton

There was plenty of footfall at this event as we were set up outside the church on the pedestrianized section of New St, competing with the buskers and jugglers for the attention of the wandering daytrippers!

It was a glorious October morning and frankly, Cin Cin was looking resplendent even if she has a little more rust showing than the Sussex Love Bug and Plums Campers’ Beetle.  This was the start of a wedding fair weekend as we had back to back events in Brighton.  So we made the most of our prominent position by wrangling punters in to try our Prosecco and antipasti treats.

Having just returned from almost two weeks in Puglia, I had hoped to debut a new menu item – Aubergine Involtini with goats cheese and capers – inspired by the sun soaked snack dishes we sampled while we were away.  Unfortunately, the UK aubergines I used were flavourless and bitter (maybe not sun soaked enough, or at all?!?!) so I abandoned the dish.  I will come back to it next June when aubergines are back in season to give it another try.

Stylish Events Wedding Fayre, Amex Stadium Brighton

They may use ye olde term ‘fayre’, but Stylish put on a very modern and professional wedding event at the Amex with over 900 brides attending!  Unlike at Belle’s the day before, the weather turned and it rained all day meaning Cin Cin had to sit outside with the other vehicles while we set up in the foyer and plied attendees with Prosecco and antipasti on their way into the show.

Stella and Tracey run a very tight ship – when we arrived we were held in the top carpark with the other exhibiting vehicles while the suppliers in the show unloaded and once they were done and clear, we were called down one by one so that we could park in the order of our slot on the row.  It really did run like clockwork.

It was a shame that Cin Cin was outside alone and I didn’t particularly enjoy running back and forth in the rain to make more antipasti in the van and bring them back to our stand in the foyer; but it was good practice and it felt a little like a Masterchef challenge – I could hear John Torode saying “right you’ve got 30 mins to make six antipasti in that little vintage van and not get them wet or let them be blown away as you bring them back in.  Cooking doesn’t get better than this!  Go!”

In the end it was good fun and our first opportunity to sell Prosecco at an event as I had applied for a licence given the expected numbers.  We sold more than I expected but it wasn’t hard to convince people that a flute of Prosecco would make their time at the fayre more fun!

All The Best Events Wedding Fair, Brighton Racecourse

On the eve of what was unanimously described as “the worst storm since The Great Storm of 1987”, Cin Cin braved blustery conditions up the hill to Brighton Racecourse for this event and while numbers were down as a result, we did spend some quality time with a number of couples who were very interested in what we do.  It was also a good opportunity to see the layout at Brighton Racecourse given we will be trading at the Pop Up Sussex Vintage Christmas Fair there on 30 November.

I was however amazed by how many couples arrived at the fair, walked around the stalls by keeping to the middle of walkway thereby not collecting any flyers or engaging directly with any suppliers and then walking out!  I know it was a free event but it is really worth coming along to leave without even one bit of new information?!? Strange days indeed.

We are already looking at Spring 2015 dates for the wedding fair circuit so if you are a fiancée or know someone who is, keep an eye on our event announcements here – http://www.cincin.co.uk/hire/weddings/