Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bridal Show Expo: Ethan Allen in North Andover, MA


Although a power outage that threatened to cancel the show, the lights came on in time and mom and I spent a couple hours at the Ethan Allen in North Andover, MA, checking out the few vendors I still need amidst beautiful d├ęcor.  But the bridal show expo had its share of ups and downs.

As with most bridal shows, the majority of vendors were photographers (why is this?)  There were also not one but 2 wedding cake places!  And as much as I love my cake place, Chickadee Hill is a FIERCE competitor!  They were every bit as good and every bit as pretty.  I don’t know what the cost was (Jacques isn’t the cheapest, but I feel their prices are very reasonable for the quality they provide).  The other place, well…it was very average.  They had cupcakes, and I felt they were a little on the heavy and dry side, although they had a fairly rich nice taste.  Plus I’m just so not interested in cupcakes as opposed to a traditional wedding cake that I’m biased. 

Although mom and I had fun (I love that each room in Ethan Allen looks like a different house.  It’s like eye candy around every corner!) there were a few snags.  First (don’t freak out, Adam, I’ll sort it out) I ran into guys from the company where I ordered my tuxes.  I said I already had them from them, I think, and they’re in Saugus, right?  “No.  Beverly.”  THAT was a surprise; they closed shop and moved.  So they called to find out if my order was transferred.  No.  I wasn’t even in the system.  So I said, “Well, I have the contract, so I’ll be bringing that in to the shop.”  Sheesh. 

Another issue was with the Mary Kay consultant.  She told me I’d get this and that if I book a consultation.  I played that game before.  Wasn’t really interested in doing it again.  But boy, was she good.  She didn’t ask me IF I wanted a consultation.  She said in a conspiratal tone, “Don’t worry if you have to change the day” *looks over her shoulder to make sure the imaginary person behind her isn’t hearing this fantastic opportunity she’s allowing me* “You can still get these free brushes valued at $80 on the day of the makeover.”  And then she straightened up, “So what’s good for you?  Afternoons or evenings? 
“Evenings, but I don’t think…” 
“Later in the week or earlier in the week?” 
“Later, but I’m not sure…”
“Let me just see what’s available.  We can do next week *looks at a calendar filled with Xs because she is in SUCH high demand* but actually that’s not going to work, how about December 1st at 5pm?”
I knew I wasn’t going to ease my way out of this.  I mean, I could have been direct and said, “No thank you,” but I just smiled and nodded.  And when I got home I sent her an Email saying “Whoops, that day doesn’t work for me; don’t call me; I’ll call you.” 

But these little uncomfortable moments aside, what really surprised me was the number of vendors at this show who regarded me with thinly veiled  CONTEMPT.

1.  There was one photographer who, when I asked if I had chosen a photographer and I answered yes, asked if I considered video.  When I said I was not having video, he went into the spiel of how photos don’t capture this and that.  I said, “I know, I was interested but my fiance said no.”  So he said, “Well come on, who’s the boss?”  Nice.  You think you’ll get my business if you try and drive a wedge between me and my intended?  “Well, it’s all about compromise,” I came back with. 

He didn’t stop there.  He told me he was married for 32 years and still regretted not having a video.  Um, okay.  Maybe time to get over that.  Maybe it’s hard when that’s your job, but pressuring me isn’t going to ease your pain, guy.

I said that he is just not comfortable with the idea, but thank you, and he said, "We'll be 30 feet away at all times."  I said oh, cool, I'll think about it then, and started to walk away, but he kept talking!  So I muttered to mom extra loudly, "If they were 30 feet away Adam would be fine with it, since they'd be out on the lawn."  

"Oh...you're..." 

"It's a small house."  I told him.  But he still refused to give up.  He said that I should go on his website and look at the collection of commercials (right away how fun does that sound, right?) about “How to decide if you want video.”  And on it there are these 2 little girls, one of them who cries because her mommy and daddy don’t have a wedding video.

I am not making that up.

2.  The makeup artist who gave me a trial pulled the old “tear them down so you can build them back up” trick with me.  When I PAY for a haircut, I get compliments on my hair.  Because they want a tip.

I guess with a freebie, comes abuse because they’re not getting paid and they subconsciously want to take that out on you.  That and they’re trying to get more business so saying “You’re a natural beauty” isn’t going to help.  So although she could have said worse, she steered the conversation to:

 “Do you wax your eyebrows?”
 “No, I pluck.  Just a few to clean them up.”
 “Oh I could totally shape them for you…”
 *I make a face*
 “They won’t look thin!”
 *I look up at her shoestring brows*
 “They’ll just give you that lift.  It will make your face look thinner.”
 Mom:  “Or surprised that you actually got a man to marry you?”
 I laughed.  The stylist got defensive that that’s not what she meant at all.  Mom laughed.  “Seriously,” the stylist said desperately, “You could get them cleaned up, it’s easier than you think and it would make a huge impact.  You’d open the area up, you could put more highlight up in here, you should come in and I’ll do it.”
 “Ugh!  Do it NOW!”  Her coworker chimed in.
Thanks.  I’ll just wear a bag over my head until I can get an appointment.

My eyebrows are FINE.  Thank you. 

3.  The next vendor was a woman who designs invitations.  She asked me if I had mine and I said yes.  And she asked, “Who did you go with?”

Now, it’s one thing if you’re going to make polite conversation instead of an awkward, “Oh.” before turning your back on the person so you can get to a potential customer.  But she clearly wasn’t going for polite when she said, “You didn’t get them off the internet, did you?”

Wow.

I’ve seen PLENTY of really nice invitations on the internet!  There are some folks at Etsy who are every bit as good as a professional; they just don’t have a brick and mortar store yet! 

I told her, “No, I got them at Michaels.” 

“Ugh.  WHY?”

WOW.

I probably should have walked away at that point instead of justifying myself to her.  But two wrongs don’t make a right, so I wasted my time trying to be polite. 

“Because I liked them.  And I only needed 12.”

“I could have done something for you…”

GIVE IT UP, LADY!

“…and I do my own calligraphy, so I wanted to give them something really special and personal.”

Now, I DO do calligraphy.  I do a pretty good job of it.  But I don’t even plan on doing it for my invitations, haha.  They are just not a priority for me, in terms of the time, effort, and cost.  I would much rather put that money towards the food and cake.  Has there ever been a wedding guest who said, “The food was awful but this clever/gorgeous/picture of them with their dog invitation totally made the wedding special.” 

Vendors, please don’t “Ugh” a bride just because she didn’t pick you.  Her wedding is about celebrating the fact that she’s making a commitment, not wondering what could have been.

4.  The above issues made me laugh.  But the one that had me walking away feeling angry was a caterer.  And not just because they didn’t bring food to sample, but that didn’t help.  No, they asked me about what I was looking for for a menu, and I told them, “meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan.  For 12 people.”  And at first they were all interested and said we could talk more.  “I said, “that would be great!”  And they said I could spin their prize wheel, so I said I’d like to.  I did…and it landed on a free limo!  I was about to jump for joy, when they moved it and said, “That’s only if you book with us.  Why don’t you spin it again?” 

I was so shocked that I didn’t even say anything.  I just did what I was told, and got a sewing kit.  You know the sort that fits in your purse.  What the HELL?  Here I was, WANTING a caterer, I would have been happy to set up an appointment with them, and they took a free limo right out of my grasp.  Mom was all, “Why didn’t you say something?”  I somehow doubt a little dry erase board on a wheel that no one but us saw is exactly legally binding, so if they didn’t want to give me a limo that’s their prerogative.  But I do not plan on setting up an appointment with them.  They obviously have little desire to make their customers happy! 

So all in all, we didn’t have much luck.  I did get a really nice makeover, which helped me figure out what I do and don’t want for my wedding day.  But otherwise, I don’t have much farther to go.  I’m starting to outgrow bridal shows!  I’m a little sad.  But then I think of how much free time I’ll have.  And how I’ll get to spend it with Adam.  After the abuse I got tonight, I think I’m trading up : ) 


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