Breaking down the costs of Seattle wedding expos

October 07, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hildebrand Photography wedding photography

This is an email I sent to Lizzi, my sweet, smart, hip and definitely talented photography friend in LA We met at a WPPI convention and were immediately friends. I love hashing out new ideas with her and finding out what the photography world is like in LA. Here’s my email to her describing what our expo booth costs. This email was dated 2011. We decorate our booth now much differently. We have no decorations and many more prints and albums which really doesn’t change the price you see below or if anything it raises the prices.

I was obviously surprised that our expo cost so much. I knew we were investing quite a lot here and there but the grand total was amazing…not a huge surprise but still big. It’s such a mad, whirlwind while prepping for several weeks before an expo! It’s physically and mentally exhausting prepping as well as while you are there. As long as you gather your wits about you and rest the day before you can feel exhilirated during an expo. Think about the exact words you will say to get someone’s attention, to continue the conversation and to hopefully close a sale with them. Picture them being happy and impressed and you feeling an overwhelming sense of pride in your work. You’re shaking hands, showing them albums, laughter, money exchanges, big hugs and “It was so good to meet you” followed by “We can’t wait to do your engagement photos!”

You meet hundreds of people, hear all of their stories, plans, dreams, it’s really fantastic once you let the energy of the day sweep you up and as long as you stay focused on what your main goal is and how to attain it. It’s easy to get caught up in a social atmosphere and forget you’re there to work.

I xxx’d out the prices of albums because, although these are “sample” albums from the album companies they are still quite a large investment and not something the album companies would appreciate me sharing.

Of course, once you purchase most of these things they can be used again and again but…you will find that you will want to constantly change and improve and update your booth so that really doesn’t apply often. We have been tempted for a few years now to do a double (size) booth which is a lot of expensive real estate that must be filled with prints. My safety net on this idea is that if we print images that vendors can use and we go back to a single booth then we can gift those prints to those vendors for them to use in their stores or expo booths. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. 😉1f609

Hello Lizzi,
Woah! We just now computed our expenses for the expo this weekend. I thought you’d be interested in seeing this. Luckily we had free babysitting and brought sack lunches.
Seattle Wedding Expo booth:
1,300 corner booth
35 taller wall
75 white carpet rental
350 20×30 prints 6
xxx finao album
xxx graphi album
100 furniture rental
30 parking
250 Minuteman printers
$100 price sheets
50 Michaels crafts flowers
30 Table cloth
100 dawns outfit
miscellaneous: business cards, notebooks, pens…
(520 bridge toll not included as this was in 2011 before the tolls started)
Gas 30
= $3,500 approximate total

Here’s a breakdown of each item in my list:

The taller wall increases your real estate space you can show more of your images.

The carpet is good because the old expo tiles are a strange pattern and quite cold. It’s a nice tactile comfort to have carpet. We do own a carpet for expos but the weight makes it awkward to transport.

Prints, we go through NW Fine Art & Print in Redmond. Matt is fabulous. We do not get the top quality like we would for clients! He prints, mounts and packages them up for us. You will need an easel for most of your prints.

Albums, as you know, albums take a long time to design, print, have created and ship. Be sure to leave at least a month for this!

Furniture rental: we don’t do this anymore. We thought it would be nice for potential clients to be too comfortable to leave and want to stay and look at our stuff longer. This did happen but it was a large space to take up for only 2 people to fit in. It wasn’t the best use of our space and it was expensive heavy to transport.

Pamphlets: I should have included the cost of designing our pamphlet but we lucked out and had a friend who was a student design ours. She did an amazing job! I would advertise for her in this post but she learned the skill for fun not profit, sorry.

Price sheets: make sure these slip into the flyers. You will change your prices before your flyers and don’t want to have to throw them out due to pricing changes. We use to have prices on one side and descriptions of what we offer on the other but decided that was too much clutter so now just pricing, single sided with our contact info on it for sure!

The flowers look good on my mantle now. No more shows for them.

The table cloth is wrinkle resistant. We bring a water bottle to “iron” them at the show. They’re black with a nylon type quality to them for a nice drape and durability. There are 4 because the tall, round bar table uses 2. Be sure to bring a ribbon to tie the bar tablecloth to give it a tailored look and to not trip over it.

My outfit: I do heels, nice jeans, colorful shirt and of course, complete hair and make up. You want to look your best! Bring comfy shoes for walking the long distance to and from your car before and after the show each day.

Assistant: If Brandon has a photography gig that day then I’ll hire an assistant for the day. I also pay for their lunch and parking. I make sure to tell them to talk about our art, show them albums and get their contact info. I am always careful to choose someone who is happy and professional. Both qualities are very important in representing our brand.

Misc: Bring a sign in sheet, calendar, pens, your square for your smart phone, water, mints, coffee, business cards.

So, that should cover it! The lower your packages, the more clients you should get at the expos but the more you charge then it only takes a few to break even then start making money. Either way you are golden. Sometimes, many times you don’t get booking at the show but rather days after the show so don’t worry. Your hard work will pay off! Good luck and know that most shows are in September and January after all of the Christmas proposals so get ready!


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