Exposed

I’ve spent a good part of half an hour trying to start this post.

OK, lets start here..

I don’t like sales kiosks in shopping malls.

You know the ones.

‘Madam, what moisturiser do you use?’

‘Oh I use…. Haaaang onnnn… wait a minute!’

Then it’s over – you’re in their sales talons of steel.

Oh, BTW, don’t call me madam. ‘Young lady’ will do just fine.

The last time this happened to me was about two months ago. I felt so sorry for the salesgirl that I let her spin her sales pitch on me while she carressed my hand with the moisturiser with ‘real gold flecks’ in it. I said to her that she will have to get a move on as I was meeting friends.

Let’s be real. There were no friends.

After I prised my paw away from her, explaining that I was super happy with my Johnson’s Foaming Facial Cleanser, I spent the next half an hour trying to get out of the mall through an alternative exit.

So imagine, if you will, running the gauntlet with not just one or two of your odd pop-up kiosk of young thangs (squirting ‘deep sea salt mud cleanser’ straight into your hand while you’ve barely given them an acknowledgment) – but over 150 of them.

Yep (exhales heavily), I went to the eBridal wedding expo at Burswood.

My favourite booth - complete with cardboard cut-outs.

I told The Mister I was going to go to it a couple of days prior – and after some consideration – he said the brave sentence: ‘Im coming with you.’

You see we’ve been to one of these things before. In fact, two*.

As The Mister said in a previous post, ‘we despise the same things’. And yes, we’re into masochism.

*The other two we went to were the Perth Bridal Expo (the biggest one in WA) and the First Comes Love Alternative Wedding Expo (which was actually pretty good). To be fair, I’ll talk about them when they swing around again this year.

Right. I have some advice for you before you even step out of your house to go to one of these things.

Pack the following items:

  • Backpack
  • Pen
  • Water
  • Fruit or muesli bar
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Comfy shoes
  • About $25 in cash

So. We pack a backpack, slather on some sunscreen (the walk from the Burswood carpark to, anywhere really, can be a scorcher) and when I was in the middle of filling up the water bottles, The Mister got the call.

  • The Mister: Sorry sweetheart, I have to go and fill-in at cricket.
  • Me: What.
  • The Mister: Someone’s called up sick for the lower-grade team and as Im the VC of my team and I said I’d do it.
  • Me: What.
  • The Mister: Gotta support the team.
  • Me: What.
  • The Mister: Can you drop me off?
  • Me: What.
  • The Mister: Thanks.

Fast-forward about 45 mins and I’m in the searing Burswood carpark.

So I head in to the event.

Problem number one – it was $16 to get in.

Be warned – this is a very usual price.

I think it’s bullshit. While I suspect that the vendors have paid premium to set up a booth at this expo, I believe the buck should stop there.

However it’s a Catch 22, isn’t it?

Vendors get exposure to customers – customers get exposure to vendors.

I have to say that it’s Burswood has a serious earner pimping out it’s Grand Ballroom venue. I wonder how many more people would attend these events if it was free or a nominal entry fee.

But it just goes to show how much money people are willing to pay to go to these things.

OK, so $16? Let’s see what you get for that.

Might put this on The Mister's car

I got a sticker, a wristband to indicate I had (reluctantly) paid, a pen and an empty polypropelene bag. Which suggested how much crap I was going to collect over the afternoon.

And of course more high-pressured sales than you can imagine than 150 stalls of wedding products and services.

Another piece of advice – if you don’t like crowds, get there either around lunchtime or as late in the day as possible.

I got there around 1pm. But don’t be fooled. There is a flipside to swarms of people.

There is no safety in numbers.

Instead of being lost in the crowd, I was now exposed to the laser-beam eyes that are trained to look at your left hand before going in for the kill, ‘So when’s your big day…hmmmm?’

The first time you go to a bridal expo, it’s fun and crazy. Everyone’s so interested and you’re polite to the vendors.

Brace yourself. It will not last.

Once the vendors realise that the ‘traffic’ is waning for the afternoon, two things can happen:

  1. They become disinterested and tired
  2. They become velociraptors

Unlike the T-Rex, where ‘if you don’t move it can’t see you’ (Jurassic Park, 1993 – I know, I’m citing Dr Grant from the movie), velociraptors apparently can (and open doors, if you know the movie but there is no fossil that can confirm that, yet).

I digress.

So I was exposed. I spent half the day pretending to be on my phone, or just looking down.

OK – so WHY was I there anyway if I’m just going to bag it out?

I’ll admit it – it was a great resource for checking out a couple of things I needed to sort – mainly I wanted to find a photobooth, and I wanted to make sure that the photographer I wanted wasn’t at the expo.

Now. Entry fees aside, let me tell you what I really hate.

Aggressive, high-pressure sales.

Basically, no one took no for an answer.

No one seemed to understand that I just really wanted to have a look.

What was really cruel was this photography company – I wasn’t that interested in, I was just having a gander – asked if I had a photographer for my wedding.

I said I had one, yes.

  •  Sales woman: have you booked him/her?’
  • Me: yes (I lied)
  • Sales woman: Have you paid a deposit or signed a contract?
  • Me: No.
  • Sales woman: Well then, you don’t really have a photographer then, do you?

I think consumer affairs would have a field day here.

She took to her spiel and offered me this crazy photo package that included a mini-photo album, a massive wall print, two very expensive full-sized album and an engagement photo shoot.

I said it wasn’t really my style to have all that stuff.

$775 she said (I have to admit, that was a very compelling price).

I said I would have to talk to The Mister, ‘He’s the one with the money! Hahahaha’.

She said it’s for today only. Absolutely non-negotiable. Pay today.

I walked away and I could feel her eye-lasers piercing my back.

There was a lot of that ‘buy now or bugger off’ vibe – but I have to say there was also a lot of ‘I have to buy/book it now desperation’ from brides-to-be.

About 15 of these girls walk out of that expo with bags of cut-price wedding dresses, and they’re just the ones that I saw.

Other than the brides and their betrothed, the expo was shaping up to the ‘other’ match made in heaven.

Like I say, these sorts of events can really be useful for some people – all the vendors in one place and all that. It was like the wedding internets in real life.

And unless you are completely and unreservedly happy with your decision, I would recommend trying to book or buy what you need from an expo as you can get some pretty sweet deals.

If not, do what I did and leave the credit card at home and road test some of the vendors attitudes instead.

Interestingly, although I couldn’t get The Mister’s view on the day because of ‘cricket’ – they won, BTW, my friend Travis remembers them vividly…. this is what he emailed to me and I thought it would be a nice inclusion.

In among all of the good work being done for men’s health today, a silent danger still lurks unseen, 2 words that lead to more chest pains and higher blood pressure than a tied Grand Final, “Bridal Expo”. I first encountered this phenomenon as a callow youth, staying at a recently married friend’s place. Starved of other options, I read through a wedding magazine at bedtime. Until this point, I believed that weddings involved a man and a woman, much like conservatives today albeit for completely different reasons. The first mention of the guy in the suit came at page 72 in an article called “Groom’s role – how he can help make your day special.” I began to realise that the industry had turned arcaic tradition and little girl’s dreams into a veritable golden goose (in a cranberry jus or poached atlanic salmon and cloves, alternate drop.) But weddings are no longer the contract-signing ceremonies transferring ownership to the husband, and to be honest, most five year old girls dream of marrying their prince in a fairy floss dress on a white unicorn, not in a medieval corset festooned with more crystals than a mardi gras float. Still, people use fear to buy into that dream. “But miss, if you don’t arrive in matching Hum-vees and leave in a Pink carriage like Katy Price, your wedding will be ruined!”

So how did we go when we married? We were blessed with a group of caring people, lead by my mother-in-law, an organisation genius and negotiator worthy of the title “Concilieri”. They understood that it was about a celebration of friends and family and that my beloved feeling special was more important than commissions or what was fashionable today. So my advice on Bridal expos? Go and see what interests you. Take disinterested parties who can offer objective viewpoints, or your finance in a pinch. Take advantage of services if you are time poor, but remember that you are surrendering a degree of creative control. But most importantly, do what you feel happy with, one of the best weddings I’ve seen was at a bowling club with party pies and pizza for the reception. It was a love filled affair that suited the couple to a tee. Truly Magical.


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