This Saturday after a walk down the aisle and a magical “I do,” I’ll start my life as a married woman. Months of pondering the perfect place settings, fretting over floral arrangements, and stressing about seating charts will have finally paid off.

When I first became engaged, I told everyone I would never become one of “those brides.” Anyone who has taken part in a wedding probably knows what I mean (there’s even an entire cable television show devoted to her – the infamous “Bridezilla”). I can say rather confidently – and I hope my co-workers, family and friends reading this post would agree – I have not succumbed to this fate. However, I admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my wedding planning experience as it bears many similarities to one of my favorite professional activities: tradeshows. In fact, as I embarked on my planning journey at the height of wedding season, I was also in the midst of what we know at Stern + Associates (S+A) as spring tradeshow season.

Since joining S+A, I’ve had the opportunity to support nearly two dozen tradeshows. From interior design to healthcare to technology and marketing, no matter the subject, I find tradeshows to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. And the more immersed I became in the throes of planning my special day, I found that several lessons from my tradeshow work immediately applied.

  • Plan Early – Whether hunting for the perfect reception venue or prime exposure in a key publication or speaking platform, it’s important to remember the old adage of the early bird getting the worm. Starting early with the planning process can mean the difference between feature coverage for your client in a key publication strategically distributed at a show, a prime presentation opportunity, or no coverage at all – and in the case of a wedding, your dream reception site or your local pizza joint.
  • Think Big – The most exciting part of planning any event is often the brainstorming process – the time to imagine the endless possibilities. While all of the ideas from a brainstorm session might not be realized due to timing or budget constraints, through the process a solid foundation is established from which to build an event that will meet – and exceed – expectations.
  • Make it Memorable – A tradeshow is as much an experience for customers and clients as it is for the exhibiting companies. Much like wedding favors serve as keepsakes and tokens of appreciation, a creative booth giveaway at a tradeshow can go a long way in showing visitors they are valued.
  • Work with a Team – An event as complex as a tradeshow or wedding requires the work of many individuals working collaboratively. By establishing a team of people who you trust, you can help ensure a smooth operation before, during and even after the event.

Despite the hours of time and seemingly endless resources that go into planning a tradeshow, the real work begins after the doors to the show floor close. Companies must work to follow up on leads and sustain both new and old relationships. And while the ceremonial “last dance” might signify the end of my wedding, it’s important for me to remember that it is really just the beginning.

By Stephanie Euler, Account Supervisor, Stern + Associates

Focusing on placing clients on top speaking platforms and developing relationships with conference planners, Stephanie leverages her insight into industry and business trends to secure high visibility engagements. Her work puts our clients face-to-face with the audiences who matter most, whether in the innovation, healthcare, technology, higher education or mainstream business arenas. When Stephanie isn’t in the office you might find her running around town, training for her next road race or chasing after her son.