If you go
› What: The Pink Bride
› Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.
› When: Noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27
› Admission: $12 in advance, $15 day of show
› For more information: www.thepinkbride.com/shows/chattanooga
Planning the wedding day of your dreams involves meeting with photographers, bakers, florists, wedding planners, ministers, caterers and visiting lots of potential venues. Why drive all over town to comparison shop when you could see them all in one convenient location on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27?
The Pink Bride will bring 110 exhibitors to the Chattanooga Convention Center for a bridal expo where the newly engaged can connect with a variety of wedding pros. Guests can browse photography displays, taste cake and hors d'oeuvres samples, compare venue rental fees and sign up for vendor specials and giveaways while there.
There will be also be two bridal fashion shows. The first at 1:45 p.m. will feature fashions from David's Bridal and Men's Wearhouse. Models in the second at 3:45 p.m. will wear attire from Ever After Bridal & Formal Wear, Monica's Bridal and Giorgio Men's Wearhouse.
Fred Jacob, producer of The Pink Bride, has presented bridal expos in Chattanooga twice annually for 15 years. Average attendance runs between 1,600 to 2,000 folks, he says, usually in groups that contain the bride-to-be, a parent, girlfriend and sister.
A highlight of The Pink Bride is its Cash-for Contract drawing.
"I give away 15 prizes to 15 brides," says Jacob. "I help pay for a contract that each winner books with one of the show's vendors. The contract can be for any service that is at the show, and must be booked either at the show or within two weeks after the show."
For example, he will pay $50 on a contract under $500, or $100 on a contract of $500 to $1,000. If the contract is higher than $1,000, he pays $200. To encourage bookings, vendors will offer incentives during the expo.
This Sunday's Cash-for-Contract drawings will begin at 3:30 p.m. onstage and those whose names are drawn must be present to win.
Anyone who has watched TLC Network's new "Four Weddings" knows that receptions aren't just seated dinners or buffets followed by dancing anymore. The entertainment factor has be upped significantly.
It's not unusual to find cocktail hours with specialty drinks that flow through personalized ice sculptures into a guest's glass, caricature artists drawing humorous sketches of guests, cornhole tournaments on boards personalized to the bride and groom's sports teams or monograms and even games to keep young children entertained. The reception might start off with music by a band playing their parents' music, followed by a DJ later in the night.
Jacob attributes this to another trend: the age of brides has risen to late 20s/early 30s, "and she doesn't want to do what everyone else does. She is established in her career and she wants something specific to her."
"We are seeing longer engagement cycles because the women getting married are older. About 25 percent of the girls coming Sunday will be getting married in 2020. When a 2020 bride shows up in 2019, she is going to do a lot of looking and searching for ideas," he says.
Another developing trend: Destination weddings are becoming today's elopements. In prior decades, a couple eloped because either the groom-to-be was getting ready to ship out for military service, their parents objected to the marriage or to save money.
Jacob says now a destination wedding is a good alternative for couples to save money with a wedding and honeymoon in the same location. Couples who just want to be married with only a few people present choose destination weddings as do couples where one of the engaged pair is from a foreign country.
With the cost of a wedding averaging $25,000 to $30,000, it's a smart move for brides-to-be to first march down the vendors' aisles at The Pink Bride and comparison shop before saying "I do."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.