A little account of mine (and Tom's) annual trip to The National Wedding Show, in Birmingham. It was, as usual, a great success!

Time to Go

Every autumn, for the past three years, myself and Tom (my fantastically helpful Assistant, Marketing Guru, Web Designer and other half) make the drive to Birmingham's NEC to set up our booth ready for The National Wedding Show.

So, on Thursday last week, after Tom succeeded with tetris-like precision in packing our tiny Aygo, we were off! After negotiating the roads from deep Suffolk to the spaghetti interchanges of Birmingham, we arrived at the doors of Hall 12 at The National Exhibition Centre, ready to unload.

The 'big build'.

Time to Build

You’d think we’d be dab hands at this now, but somehow the ‘big build’ always takes us longer than we expect it to. This year we’d opted for a slightly larger stand, and had planned a quick (or so we thought) layout with large artwork on the walls and leather portfolio books on tables. After a battle of having to persistently stick and re-stick our spotty backdrop onto the walls (as is insisted on skulking, tortoise-like down the wall every two seconds!), we decided to do without it altogether. It wasn’t really working and after four hours, we were tired and running out of options. Without the colour of the backdrop, the booth looked just a little pallid, so we had a nice, bright pink piece of carpet fitted to replace the standard doughy-coloured one the stands come with. It now looked that part and matched my branding. 

Pleased at last, we trundled a couple of miles down the road to our B&B – Church Farm in Bickenhill – before popping out for some basic, but good, pub grub nearby.

Then, to bed...zzzz!

Smiling at Mr and Mrs Robertson on their 1st Wedding Anniversary.

Show time!

Time to Show

The Visitors - The thing I look forward to most about showcasing my work at TNWS is meeting all the wonderful people in person. Most often, I am behind my computer screen and I don’t get to meet my customers, so it makes a nice change. I love that I get to see every type of person as a fantastic mix of visitors burst through the doors come, ten o’clock on each morning of the show. From notebook-wielding brides with their proud mothers, to Prosecco-fuelled bridesmaids and the lesser-spotted men-folk, often laden with loot-filled goodie bags.

The Exhibitors - Another aspect that I really relish, is seeing the other exhibitors. It’s really great to see all the independent businesses out there that are thriving on Britain’s insatiable wedding industry. It was lovely to meet Kate of Mrs W Tutus at long last - I own two of her tutu-wearing monkeys already... so it was nice to finally see their creator, in real life. Please do have a look at our newest exhibitor friends Zoe and Brad of Cart & Carriage’s mobile Prosecco bar - Tallulah the tuk tuk! Of course, I really like catching up with all the fab people who I have come to be my regular show neighbours too. A special mention must go to Photographers Adam and Simon of Enchanting Wood, and the boys from Blue Ridge Videography - and no Tim, it’s not just because of your never-ending chocolate supply!

One of my lovely customers, Catherine, standing next to her portrait to show the likeness!

Some of my show neighbours.

The Illustrations - It’s always lovely to receive face-to-face feedback from visitors at the show. A few couples told me that my work was their favourite exhibition that they’d seen at the show, which is honestly the best review a girl could ask for. Thank you so much - you guys are such flatterers! There is always a clear favourite illustration amongst visitors to our stand - this year it was definitely Mr and Mrs Robertson’s portrait. It just so happened that Sunday was their first Wedding Anniversary, so they were wished lots of well-wishes!

Finally, and not forgetting...

The Competition - I always like to give people the chance to win one of my illustrations when they take the time to visit me on my stand. This year I ran a competition to win a Bespoke Bride or Groom Illustration. Visitors simply had to guess how many hearts were on the dress (on one of my illustrations). The closest guess and winner of the competition was Anne Gilchrist with a guess of 1,890...just four away from the actual number of hearts (1,894). Congratulations Anne!

Time to Finish

The ‘break down’... No one enjoys it, but it's unavoidable, and entirely necessary! When you know what's coming, it's easy – when you don't know what's coming, it resembles the mayhem of checkout time at Aldi... Before you know it, the walls are quite literally, coming down around you, and as quick as a flash, the carpets are being ripped up. No one wants to be there, but everyone knows it's just the final stage of an exhausting yet fulfilling weekend. One last burst of energy, and that's it for another year.

Thank you to all who came to visit our stand. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and talk with you about your special day. I hope everyone enjoyed the show as much as we did. I look forward to hearing from you soon and to hopefully create something bespoke for you that is as unique and individual as you are.

Hannah x

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