Thousands attend annual bridal expo

PARKERSBURG – Whether they were looking for something they wanted or discovering something they needed, many area brides found exactly what suited their wedding plans at The Great Bridal Event 2013.

More than 2,500 people were at the bridal show Sunday at the E.L.I.T.E. Center in Parkersburg Sunday. Many prospective brides and grooms came to Sunday’s event to get ideas for their own weddings, make contacts, sample food, see the latest styles in wedding attire, do bookings and more.

“It was an amazing day,” said Keith McClung, owner of Crown Event Rentals, the organizing sponsor of Sunday’s event. “Hands down, we broke all of our records this year with attendance, our vendors and everything else.”

The show had over 115 vendors including photographers, caterers, DJs, businesses specializing in wedding attire and more.

“I had 14 more vendors on a waiting list to get in, but we had nowhere to put them,” McClung said. “We only align ourselves with the best vendors in the area.

“That is why this is a juried show. We just don’t let anyone in.”

A number of vendors were able to have all of their open dates booked for the coming year and a number of brides and grooms signed contracts there on the spot, he said.

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day was one of the biggest dates for people to get engaged and The Great Bridal Event is one of the first bridal shows put on after the holiday.

“There are so many brides that this was the first bridal expo they were able to go to,” McClung said.

There were almost 330 brides registered at Sunday’s show.

“‘We have been thrilled,” McClung said. “The show has been wonderful.”

Lindsay Williams, of Marietta, came to the show Sunday with her mother, Judy. Williams is planning a wedding for September.

“Mostly I need a photographer and a venue, I already have my dress,” she said. “I think I will be able to make a decision after this.

“I am getting extra ideas for things I didn’t even think of before.”

Over the last couple of years, one trend McClung has seen is brides coming to the show with pages of design ideas of things they found on the website Pinterest. Organizers set up an area with some of the best ideas all laid out.

“What we did was develop 12 tables that were Pinterest-inspired, so brides can come in and say, ‘That is what I want,'” McClung said. “What we have done this year is we have done the homework for the bride.

“If they have no idea what they are looking for, they can come here and say that is exactly what they wanted. The brides are loving it.”

Also, people are becoming more selective in their food choices.

“People are wanting unique foods and they are not going for the more traditional buffet fare,” McClung said. “We have 15-20 food vendors here who are all doing samples of different things.”

With so many things to decide on, McClung hoped brides would find everything they needed under one roof at The Great Bridal Event.

“I had a bride come in who told me she had no clue what she wanted for her wedding, but since she has been here, she now knows what she wants,” McClung said. “We want to be a one-stop place for them to answer all of their questions about what they will need for their wedding.

“If the bride walks through the door and has been planning their wedding for over a year, we want to challenge her with some new things that she hasn’t seen, but if a bride comes in uncertain about everything, in that they don’t know where to start, we want to be that place where she is going to get answers and solutions.”