Saturday, August 1, 2009
Brides, brides, and more brides. Chatting with their lady companions, they formed a long line in the lobby of the Embassy Suites Ridgeland. All of them were waiting to get into the bridal show on Tuesday, July 28, put on by Premier Bride magazine.
Since I began writing the Hitched column this spring, I've taken every opportunity to meet couples who might be a good fit for the column: down to earth, crafty, preferring the simple to the lavish. I'd come, with my trusty partner and photographer, Darren Schwindaman, to chat with those attending the event and the vendors showcasing their businesses.
Of the 350 or so guests that night, Darren was the only male attendee. I had forgotten that the show was called "Girls' Night Out." Oops. The courteous hosts of the event welcomed us and fitted us with shimmery purple wristbands to designate us as journalists. I told Darren that this looked fantastic on him. He said, "I LOVE this." The other guests wore fluorescent color-coded stickers to label them as bride, mother of the bride, or mother of the groom. Well-dressed young women handed us purple tote bags full of Premier Bride goodies.
We made our way into a crowded banquet room toward the tables of food provided by the Embassy Suites. Guitarist Chas Evans, seated next to the welcome table, was playing the soothing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Though Darren and I were famished, and the food looked tempting (honey glazed chicken bites, taquitos, mini bacon-wrapped chicken wings, etc.) we decided to avoid the rush and check out the vendor room next door.
The vendor room was bustling with business people advertising their products and services. Representatives from reception spaces, clothing boutiques, photographers, spas, and caterers lined the perimeter of a large room, all chatting up the brides and highlighting their best features. Darren and I sampled from platters of cheese and crackers and rich chocolate brownies, scoping out the vendors who seemed like they would attract the indie set. While most were on the traditional side, I did meet a lovely and helpful redhead, Christie McAlister, who understood what I was looking for. She not only complimented me on my dress (big points) but also told me that her brother, Rickey, would be a good candidate for Hitched.
"His fiancee is Indian, so he's having a Christian wedding with a full Indian reception," McAlister said. For the reception, the wedding party will wear traditional Indian dress. I told McAlister that the wedding sounded wonderful, with the kind of diversity that I was looking for, and that I'd be in touch.
Back in the entryway, Darren and I grabbed what was left of the food, including slices of cream-cheese-cold-cut wraps and warm brownie bites, and struck up a conversation with bride-to-be Joelle Wilcots. Wilcots attended the event with her Matron of Honor, Elizabeth, who had brought a baby girl who was getting fussy (I think Darren could relate). Wilcots, dressed in big hoop earrings and a colorful ankle-length skirt, said that she had come looking for vendors for her cake, photography, and videography.
Hitched-eligible? Most likely. Wilcots will be making the centerpieces for the reception, and members of her church will be catering the event. Hitched potential, for sure.
Toward the end of the evening, I tracked down Premier Bride publisher Lynda Jungkind. Dressed festively in a bright green skirt and matching scarf, she was busily coordinating the event but was happy to chat.
The idea behind Girls' Night Out, said Jungkind, and the purpose of Premier Bride magazine, is to "bring the brides and the businesses together." She said that the businesses in attendance were all reputable, and having them all in one place helped brides plan their weddings.
Jungkind said that the major bridal show coming up on January 10th, 2010, will have a major "wow factor." It will run from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and feature 97 vendor booths.
"It'll be quite the experience," she said, "with a whole new look and feel, with New York style." It will include a runway and salon-style seating, Jungkind said.
Darren and I left the event a bit overwhelmed from all the wedding frenzy, but we'd gotten what we'd come for: two more couples who are fit to get Hitched.