I've been a vendor at the Missoula Wedding Fair for over 5 years now and have seen it progressively go downhill. This is the Cherry Creek Wedding Fair held every year at the Holiday Inn Downtown. It has suffered from poor management and utter greed by the host radio station. This year I finally decided NOT to attend...believe it or not, I found out I'm not the only one! In fact, far from it! I've heard from over a dozen of the best wedding vendors in the region that they share my same concerns regarding the event and won't be there this year. So if you're a new bride and were hoping to attend this years event...DON'T! There will be very few vendors there and the ones that are may not be a good representation of the quality of wedding professionals in the Missoula valley.
Please allow me to explain why so many vendors are deciding to no longer attend this wedding fair:
1) It has, and continues to be BY FAR the most expensive wedding fair in the region for vendors to be a part of. This includes Spokane, Seattle, Bozeman, etc. In fact, it's more than double the cost of Bozeman's 2 day event. Bear in mind Cherry Creeks' wedding fair is only 5 hours on a single Sunday in January.
2) They require vendors to have a prize giveaway valued at $150 or more! This in no way benefits the vendor as everyone has a giveaway, it's purely a draw to make the radio station look better.
3) Cherry Creek used to match the entrance fee for the wedding fair in radio ad credit...which is the ONLY reason so many vendors have still attended in the past. This year they did away with that program.
4) They blatantly lie about the attendance of the event. Saying they get 400+ brides in attendance. Each year, after the event when the email list of the brides who attended is distributed there is usually only 150 "brides" on it. I put brides in quotation marks because there are a large percentage of women at the event pretending to be brides just to get freebies!
5) Because it's still free to the public and they require giveaways from all the vendors this event is littered with women who are simply pretending to be brides.
6) Most vendors just attend the event for marketing exposure. But as far as marketing is concerned, it does very little to get your business' name out there. It is very rare that anything is actually booked the day of the event. And those that do book usually would have booked with that vendor regardless. Every year I see new vendors show up at the event counting on booking brides, only to not be seen again the next year.
7) Bottom line it simply doesn't ROI for most vendors to be a part of this event. After the entrance fee, designing and printing marketing materials, employee payroll costs, set up and tear down time, giveaways, etc, etc. The event really doesn't make financial sense for vendors.
Don't get me wrong in the past this event has been much better, but I would highly recommend you don't attend this year...just like myself and many of the other wedding vendors in the region.