By Gina Malone
For the best-laid plans that will not go awry, but rather result in a perfectly memorable day, many brides find attending trade shows comparable to a walk through a garden of ideas, trends and themes.
Marc and Colleen Wheeler, owners of Wedding Festivals, have produced bridal trade shows for more than 25 years, with eight shows a year in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. Their Asheville show will be held Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“Wedding Festivals creates a wedding environment at every show,” says Colleen. “Brides are able to see their prospective professionals face to face, smell the flowers, taste the cake and use all their senses to plan their wedding.”
Gathering nearly 400 wedding professionals in one place saves time and energy, say the couple, who, besides years of experience, bring to their business backgrounds in theater production and the imports business.
Exhibitors Summer and Stephen Gossett own two wedding photography businesses—FamZing Photography and Video and Noveli Wedding Photography—and have participated in Wedding Festivals events for six seasons. Their businesses encompass a team of photographers and videographers to shoot weddings as well as a more customized boutique brand of very dynamic photography. “Hands down, there is no better way for us to advertise our wedding businesses,” she says, adding that a quarter of their sales comes from people who see their work at the expo.
The Wheelers see many trends emerging in 2017, some of which turn tradition on its head. For many couples, “regional comfort food” replaces “fancy” fare. Venues include multiple environments for ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Fewer flowers give way to “heavy specialty greenery.” Lanterns combine with candlelight for romantic ambience. Unexpected color combinations show up, including brides’ dresses in soft pastels.
In addition to vendors who will help couples decide how to stage their big day, the wedding expo offers five workshops featuring industry professionals who provide practical advice on wedding planning. Offered are such topics as “Budget, Not a Dirty Word” and “The Best Gown Silhouette for Your Body Type.”
Exhibits include an area of table setting displays and a gallery of photography styles for weddings such as editorial, fashion and traditional. Each show the Wheelers produce features a platinum mock wedding and reception display. A Groom’s Expo offers more ideas, samples and prizes.
Tickets are $8 each and include chances for door prizes and giveaways as well as discounts provided by exhibitors.
For more information or to reserve tickets, visit weddingfestivals.com.