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Blogger's Guide to Bridal Fashion Week

When I started planning my first time to Bridal Market (aka the New York International Bridal Fashion Week), I googled everywhere to glean how the heck to do it. And it turned up crickets. There were no “what to expect” or “how to do” guides… and when you enter in this very intricately scheduled weekend long of events for the very first time, it can be a bit overwhelming.

So, here’s the first Blogger’s Guide to Bridal Market! It’s a lengthy one, so I hope it’s useful and encourages you to be a part of one of the greatest experiences that I've had yet in the wedding industry.


WHAT IS BRIDAL MARKET?
Officially, New York International Bridal Week is when bridal designers and bridal-related vendors come together to showcase their new collections for bridal boutique owners and press. It’s a time to get inspired on what’s to come the following season (sometimes the next year) and for boutique owners to purchase samples and schedule Trunk Shows for their local brides. You will hear it called "Bridal Market" and "Bridal Fashion Week;" they're the same thing.

WHERE IS BRIDAL MARKET?
The big, big one is in New York City, and the organization also orchestrates one in Chicago. For all intensive purposes, this Bridal Market guide is focused on New York City. And within NYC, the official show location is at Pier 94 near the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. From there, many designers set up private runway shows at various NYC hotels and venues or if they are based in NYC, in their local studios/showrooms.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHICH EVENTS TO GO TO?
For me, I wanted variety. I scheduled appointments with designers whose gowns are sold in my local boutiques (and that I’ve worked with before for stylized shoots), new designers on the bridal scene, and designers who had an entirely different perspective than what I was used to. Essentially, you decide what’s best for you and your target audience. After all, you will be doing social media for each one— you want to be interested in it!

Be sure to buffer time in between events. I recommend at least two hours. Since events rarely start on time and run late, you want to give yourself time to get to where you need to be without rushing. And if you end up with some time to spare, stop in one of NYC's wonderful cafes or bakeries for a "take five" moment!

WHEN SHOULD I ARRIVE?
Press invites start coming into email boxes about 2 months before the announced dates. I learned to pad my trip two days before and two days after the official weekend schedule, but even then some designers still scheduled their private runway shows before and after that timeframe.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Lodging and travel transportation will be your biggest expenses which can cost anywhere from $200-$1000 depending on how many days you stay and from where and when you travel. Depending on your travel tendencies will determine your food and other expenses, and that can be anywhere from $100 to $400 for your stay. I was fortunate and had access to a fridge, so I went to Whole Foods for snacks and lowkey meals and that saved me a bit of money. For transportation, each subway trip is $2.50 or you can purchase a week’s long subway pass for $30.

HOW DO I GET TO ATTEND EVENTS?
Take initiative. Not much is going to come knocking on your door, especially if you’re a newbie to the publication world like I was/am. New to the wedding industry, no, but it’s an entirely different world on the other side of the altar. If you want to find out how to attend a certain designer’s show, you need to reach out to the designer’s PR firm or department to find out what you need to do. If you want something, go after it! Only you can really make or break your Bridal Market experience.

There are some exclusive evening parties hosted by large wedding brands, and those are typically invite-only. Do your research and see if a friend has a +1 available if you don’t personally receive an invitation. Be mindful of etiquette for this one!

HOW DO I MAKE IT OFFICIAL?
If you want to attend the main shows or visit with the vendors at the Piers, register as Press with the New York International Bridal Week. You do need a legitimate publication with proof of business, but a standard business card suffices as that proof when you pick up your press pass. For the other private runway shows, you typically just need your RSVP confirmation and a business card.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING?
It’s really important to organize your appointments in the best way that fits your organizational style. Whether it’s a packet of papers stapled together, a digital calendar, or a spreadsheet, write down addresses and times of where you need to be. If digital, have a backup because some places cell signal is non-existent. (And big important note: Invest in a portable charger for your phone! Your battery will run out very quickly in the City.)

You don’t have to do everything… unless it’s one of your goals. I didn’t schedule more than two runway shows and two meetings per day. And with four events or activities each day, I was plum exhausted by evening. I did have a few friends who did much more though or sent delegates for their publications, so it’s a matter of preference.

Follow and find the relevant people on social media before you leave home so you’re not searching for that designer or vendor when time is short and need to tag right away.

WHAT DO I WEAR?
You’ll find many people dressed very differently across the board, but the standard is “business casual.” Nice dresses and pants paired with accessories works, even dark-colored jeans with a dressy top is appropriate. (Think Ann Taylor/J Crew style.) And I cannot stress enough wear comfy shoes! You can change into your nicer ones before you go into your appointment. Giant tote bags are amazing!

WHAT IS TIME LIKE AT BRIDAL MARKET?
Arrive early to appointments, expect to leave later. The New York minute sure is long during Bridal Week! Not many shows start on time. Being prompt though will give you great karma points and give you a good first impression.

Allow for extra travel time. Oh, the subway and its many, many tricky webs of intrigue. I used the app HopStop, and it was great for giving me an estimate of time and which subway trains to take. Use it with Google Maps though for walking directions.

WHAT ARE THE POPULAR HASHTAGS?
Social media is key to being Press. You want to keep up with what’s going on throughout the entire event and find out new influencers or designers. For Instagram and Twitter, these are some popular hashtags that wedding professionals, designers, and publications have used:

#nybfw #bridalfashionweek #nycbridalweek #bridalmarket #nycbridalmarket

I’M NERVOUS. ANY ADVICE?
Be confident. I found the wedding fashion world overall completely warm and welcoming. We all want to do one thing: help make weddings memorable events for brides and grooms everywhere. Designers and vendors are excited to meet people and share their talents and inspiration. Even though I’ve been in the industry for years, I was still nervous going in because it was a side of the industry I hadn’t been a part of before. And I. Loved. It.

Feel free to ask any questions below in a comment if there are any other tidbits you're curious about. Next week's Tuesday Tidbits will go into detail about my personal experience with "From Market to Aisle." Stay tuned!

Hope to see you at the next Bridal Market!
- Chelsea :)

Photo by Bit of Ivory Photography at the Isabelle Armstrong Runway Show. To see my captures from "Tidewater and Tulle in NYC," head over to Instagram and use the hashtag: #tidewaterandtulleinNYC

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