Getting The Most Out of Bridal Fashion Week

Monday, April 13, 2015

From the Amsale show, April 2013
The Spring 2016 Bridal Fashion Week (also known as Bridal Market) kicks off this week and with it come several unspoken rules and expectations. Market is one of those events that social media makes seem much more glamorous than it actually is. Still, it's a week that can be fun and beneficial, if you have realistic expectations going into it. I'm skipping market this time around, but wanted to share some tips that can help you make the most of your experience, especially if this is your first time attending:

Dress Code
For the market shows, business casual or business chic is appropriate. Jeans are too casual and cocktail attire is trying too hard. If you are wearing heels (and you probably should), bring a pair of flats for your purse. You'll need them as you run between shows. Additional things to toss in your purse: a small umbrella, Advil/Tylenol, Mophie/phone charger and your favorite brand of protein bars.

For the market parties, cocktail attire is appropriate, unless your invitation specifically designates otherwise.

Cab Fare/Uber App
Bridal Market is spread out all across the city, primarily in hotel ballrooms, penthouses or trendy warehouse spaces. There is no main cluster of tents like at Lincoln Center for Fashion Week, so you will most likely have to catch a cab or Uber to get to where you need to be on time.

All NYC cabs have to accept credit cards, but have some cash on you in case you get a driver who claims the meter is "broken." If you're not familiar with the NYC cab system, here's how it works: if just the light with middle numbers on top of the cab is lit up, the cab is available. This is the only time hailing a cab will work. If all three lights (the number and the two lights on each side of the number) are lit up, the cab is off duty. If all the lights on top of the cab are off, the cab already has a passenger.

If you'd rather take Uber, make sure you have the app downloaded and working before trying to use it. Also, be prepared for surge pricing depending on the time of day and other events happening in the city.

If it's raining, you'll have a tougher time getting a car, so be prepared to wait or walk (you'll thank me later for the flats and umbrella suggestion, I promise).

Check Your Ego and Know Your Place
Bridal market is a trade show, just with fashion shows instead of row-by-row booths. The designers are there primarily to sell the next season's line (hence the name Spring 2016) to the buyers from various stores and boutiques from around the world. After that, they are trying to get press for their lines so that brides will ask the bridal store owners for a particular dress, enabling them to sell more. If you are not a buyer or a highly-trafficked press source, they do not care about you this week. Sounds harsh, but know your place. Imagine how you would feel if someone came and tried to talk to you while you were in the middle of a consultation with a potential client. You'd probably be upset that they were costing you that sale. Same thing applies here.

I was once at a show and saw a wedding blogger with a small readership and not that much ability to move product sitting in the front row while a boutique owner who easily spends seven figures annually on the dresses from this particular company standing in the back. This was a major fail on the part of the dress company's PR team. Again, if this were your company, who would you care about more? The person who brings you hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in revenue or the person who brings a handful of non-converting clicks to your website? Yes, brand awareness matters, but revenue covers payroll. Know your place.

Follow Instructions
If you're annoyed that your seat at a show is actually standing room in the back, get over it. Don't switch seats to a better one (they will not think twice about making a spectacle of kicking you out of the front row for the tardy VIP) and don't complain. Again, if you're not a buyer or highly-trafficked press source, consider yourself lucky to be there at all. If you cross your legs, your feet get in the shot and mess it up and the photographers WILL yell at you in front of everyone. These photos are the ones that go in the magazines and these shows are expensive to produce. Just like a wedding, there are no do-overs.

Promote It
Are you obligated to write or post about the different shows you attend at bridal market? Of course not. Do it anyway. Market shows are in small venues and space is tight. There really are waiting lists and people who would like to attend, but can't because all the spots are filled. If you are able to attend, say thank you by writing about the designers and dresses. The links you post do help the designers (even if they don't realize it), so spread good karma and write about them.

If you're attending Bridal Market or just want to follow along on Twitter or Instagram, the primary hashtag is #bridalmarket.

A version of this was originally published October 2010

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