By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Dreams for the perfect wedding day have started coming true for Stillwater's Bridal Showcase grand prize winner, Mackinsey Couch. The bride-to-be won a mixer from Murphy's Department Store, a Colonial Florist gift basket, towels and throw from JC Penney, a hope chest from Furniture Showcase and two Taste of Home cookbooks from the Stillwater NewsPress at the Saturday event in the Oklahoma State University Wes Watkins Center. She plans to marry Hunter Weaver in May 2014 – and she said it's important to start preparations early so “you're not stressed out as a bride.”
From confetti cannons to bubble machines, or black lights and neon screens for shadow dancing, the bride has lots of choices, said Brittany Venable of Black Tie Wedding DJ's and lighting.
“There are so many different things to look at for the entire wedding,” said bride-to-be Cheyenne Overland. “The showcase reminds you of things you wouldn't think to do.”
Terry Monroe, owner of Murphy's Department Store, has seen preparations for weddings differ over the years. In business since 1926, Murphy's has offered bridal registry for the community through generations of families.
“It's changed over the years – now everything is less formal with brides wanting more budget friendly items,” Monroe said. All the brides visiting his booth were going to get 10% off any purchase through June 30 which can represent a significant savings when trying to set up a household.
Ashley Sprague of Whimisical Photography, both a bride and a vendor at the event, said the bridal showcase is a good way to book customers for the year. Karen May of Blazing Rock Productions said the event is very productive for her business, too. She said the showcase allows her to connect with couples and review their needs. Carlease Carter of Designs by Lisa is hoping to expand her business with her daughter Nakylia Bickham so the bridal showcase was a way to target their marketing to potential customers. More than 500 people wandered through the booths with over 150 brides registered for the grand prize drawing. Some were on a mission with an entourage of girlfriends and mothers with planner notebooks in hand.
“Bridezilla” is the common term in the industry when the bride is on a war path for the perfect nuptial. Many vendors at the bridal showcase have years of experience working with engaged couples to alleviate any bridezilla-like symptons. Brides sometimes get so caught up in the rituals of planning they forget to enjoy the experience, said Leslee Leaming of Memorie in Motion Videography.
“A lot of times in the midst of the wedding, brides miss out on what is really going on around them – so a video becomes their memory of the day,” Leaming said.
I DO, a wedding invitation vendor recorded bride's engagement stories for a best proposal contest during the bridal showcase. Sisters Cassie and Emilee Fangman, with two weddings scheduled in this year for their family, were trying to get ideas for their weddings this year but were hoping to win the proposal story contest as they took a break from sampling all the vendor's treats.
Many booths offered free tastings and for groom David Tresner – it was all about the food.
“I'm here to taste cakes,” said Tresner, “and I want to be a part of the decision making as much as possible.” From barbeque to cheese appetizers and candy coated strawberries, amaretto cupcakes, and even healthy chocolate, Xocai, the food was a delight for all the visitors. Tresner's advice to other grooms is “do what you're told.” He will marry Katherine Terrel on October 12.
Zoe Littlejohn and Trent Maness came to the show together to get ideas for their May 17, 2014 nuptial. Maness said he provides his bride with a second opinion and they will be looking at wedding attire next.
Stacia Smith of Formal Fantasy said bridal fashions will be seeing a lot of ruffles and green this year – as the Pantone Color Institute has named emerald green as color of the year. Smith said she can outfit a bride from head to toe, along with fashions for attendants and even flower girls. Her fashions were modeled by Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members. Maxine Russell of Costumes, Balloons & Stuff provided the tuxedoes modeled by Sigma Phi Epsilson members. Jess Barnes of Black Tie Wedding DJ's and Lighting emceed the fashion show. Meridian Technology students designed the hair for the models.
“The bridal showcase gives our students the chance to learn to work with special occasion hair and a feel for what it would be like to be involved in a wedding, “ said cosmetology instructor Sue Dearinger who has been assisting with the showcase for more than five years.
Caleb Russell was excited about modeling in the show because “you don't get to dress up that often and escort beautiful girls.” None of the models were engaged but several said “a girl can dream.”