Many women dream of their wedding day and what it will look like. They envision the gown they will wear, think about the bridesmaids they will have at their side - some even know what colors and flowers they would like to have before they even have a ring on their finger. But nothing really can prepare a bride-to-be of the roller coaster they will embark on after saying "yes."
Now, I say women because most men don't seem to dream of their weddings in the same way women tend to - but this is not always the case.
In more cases than not, the soon-to-be brides do much of the planning and day-of-event preparation. This is why most bridal expos are geared mainly to the bride.
Carissa Smith and Seth Miller of MixMaster Entertainment Services “dance in the clouds” in the lobby of the Genetti Hotel during the Clear Channel Wedding Expo at the Community Arts Center and Genetti Hotel held Jan. 19.
Above, Emily Secules of TS Adams in Hughesville, left, talks to perspective brides about wedding gowns.
Models show off some of the wedding dresses from Tanya’s Bridals with bouquets from Cheri’s House of Flowers both of Hughesville.
Margaret Abbott, left, and Vicki Miller, of Class Distinction, provide entertainment before the start of the bridal fashion show during the Clear Channel Wedding Expo. Information about the duo also was available to brides who would like to book them as entertainment at their wedding.
Bridal expos may be of interest to some and not to others, but whether you have done nothing for your wedding or you just can't seem to find the right favor for your guests, an expo may be of help to spark some ideas.
I got engaged in September 2013, and am planning my wedding, which will be held in November. I recently attended my first bridal expo on Jan. 19, at the Genetti and Community Arts Center, held by Clear Channel Communications.
I had no idea what to expect, but found myself a little overwhelmed as I walked into the ballroom packed with future brides and their friends and families - and even a few future grooms.
I attended the expo with a couple of friends, who also are getting married this year. We visited every one of the 72 vendors - not necessarily because we had a genuine interest in every vendor, but because we needed their signature to be entered into a prize contest, which was taking place at the end of the show. It totally paid off for my friend, who ended up winning one of the major prize packages.
Most bridal expos work similarly, in the fact that they hold contests or have the bride-to-be fill out her information to be entered to win prizes.
I also have a friend who won prizes at an expo last year, that basically paid for most of her wedding expenses. Not too bad for simply showing up and entering your name.
At the expo I attended, there were many vendors that I was expecting to see, such as DJ services, dress shops, floral shops, bakeries and photographers. But I didn't expect to see realtors, financial planners, department stores and chiropractic services, which all were present to offer their services.
Some may charge a fee for entry, but everything at the event I attended was free and many vendors gave out free information and samples at their booths.
I have never met so many DJs in one day - and I used to work in radio! But once I told them I already have a DJ booked for my wedding, they quickly moved onto the next future bride, which I didn't mind.
This would have been perfect for the person still in search of a DJ, because she could talk with all of them and compare services and prices in one place.
I was a little weary to tell some of the vendors that I will be getting married two hours away from Williamsport, in my hometown, because most of the vendors were local. But, if this is the case for you too, don't let that keep you from attending an expo outside of the town you are getting married in.
Some vendors might be willing to travel or rent items to you. I also think I may have found what I will be using as my wedding favors at this expo. I can order them ahead of time and no need for the vendor to be present at my wedding.
A few other vendors that I visited were caterers, including KFC, (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Who knew?) jewelers, cosmetic companies, travel agencies for honeymoon planning, limo services, insurance agencies, photo booths, weight loss and stress relief services, spas and tuxedo shops (can't forget about the groom).
There also were girls modeling wedding gowns from local shops and it was followed by a fashion show, featuring wedding gowns, mother of the bride, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses.
The event was completely packed and I couldn't believe how many people are getting married in the next year or so. There wasn't a single vendor who wasn't talking to an attendee almost the entire show.
If a bride left the expo without booking someone, signing up for something or getting one wedding idea, I would be surprised.
Since many expos are free or cheap to attend, I would recommend anyone who is planning a wedding to go to at least one.
I didn't think I ever wanted to attend an expo before, but I'm glad I did. It's an experience, if nothing else, and you get a lot of free stuff. Who doesn't like free stuff?