Visions of holy matrimony were in full bloom Sunday as more than 300 guests, including vendors, attended the 2018 Opelika-Auburn News Bridal Extravaganza inside the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National.
Future brides, mothers, maids of honor, bridesmaids – and even a few grooms whose feet were only slightly chilled – were drawn to the event, which offered opportunities to observe dresses, tuxes, jewelry, food. And, of course, information about honeymoons.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Shanice Moon, an Auburn resident who’s counting down the days until Dec. 8 when she aims to become Mrs. Cortez Strickland. “We’re just looking forward to what everyone has to offer.”
Moon’s maid of honor, Wyneala Williams, was happy to accompany her friend in shopping for what they plan to be one of the happiest days of Moon’s life.
“Just hoping we can find her wedding here today,” Williams said, smiling.
Macy Laney, who will be the bride of Daniel Canova on July 28, enjoyed speaking with vendors with her fellow Auburn friends, Linda Chhor and Allison Green, the latter of whom will be lending her singing voice on Laney’s special day.
“It’s exciting,” Laney said. “It gets me pumped for the wedding.”
Marrying Auburn resident Kevin Jewell in June 2018, Amy Kast walked alongside her mother, Angie, while delighting in meeting multiple vendors “face-to-face” on Sunday. For her, such opportunities were more advantageous than perusing online and other outlets.
“It’s much easier to make decisions when you can actually see and touch, and not just see a picture online or talk on the phone,” she said.
For Auburn resident Christen Youngblood, the Extravaganza proved helpful in getting a “foothold” in planning for the big day.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Youngblood said. “But having everyone in one place makes it easier to shop around.”
Young Blood’s fiance, Robert Sumner, remarked about how Sunday’s event made their October wedding “feel as if it’s tomorrow.”
“It’s eye-opening in what all goes into wedding planning,” he said.
As brides-to-be relished Sunday’s opportunities to meet those offering services for their special days, the vendors themselves enjoyed meeting with potential customers.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Corey Hayes, an assistant store manager of Publix Super Market at The Shoppes at Cary Creek in Auburn. “A lot of people are unaware that we make wedding cakes.”
Some vendors also enjoyed the opportunities to network.
“We’ve had an opportunity to meet a lot of new businesses catering towards all things wedding-related,” said Tammy Nelson, owner of Jewelry By Design in Auburn, who enjoyed meeting several newly engaged couples as well.
Hannah Weaver, a bridal consultant with Uptown Gowns from Columbus, Ga., said meeting future brides and other vendors was “really fun.”
“It’s nice to meet vendors outside of our area references to send other brides to,” she added.
Jenni Steed, owner of Ursula’s Catering and exclusive caterer for the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art with Auburn University, remarked, “I love it. Just seeing what else is out there.”
Sharing a booth with Steed, Lauren Horton, special events coordinator with the museum, concurred.
“We love the wedding industry,” Horton said, also noting how the museum offers brides a venue for ceremonies, receptions, rehearsal dinners and luncheons. “The thing that we tell brides is, ‘We do the hard work so you can enjoy your day.’”