By JULIE MARIE BUSH
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Kate Middleton isn't the only bride who will get to feel like a princess on her wedding day. For every bride-to-be - royalty and civilians alike - wedding planning comes with both excitement and stress. Area bridal shows intend to help alleviate the latter by bringing as many Western New York vendors as possible under one roof.
OBSERVER Photo by Matt Panebianco
A model wears a wedding gown on the runway at the Seneca Allegany Casino’s Bridal Show.
The third annual Seneca Allegany Casino Bridal Show was a tremendous success this year. Attendance increased significantly for the Feb. 27 show, according to Michelle Smith, banquets manager.
"We had about 950-1,000 people come to the event this year," Smith said. "This was up from last year by 200-225 people."
Fair weather this year helped to boost attendance.
"Last year we had a huge snowstorm the night before," Smith said. "The weather was rough the day of last year. This year the weather was much better - your typical, cold, February weather."
Brides were encouraged to pre-register on the Seneca Allegany Casino website as well as the vendors for their booths. This year's bridal show had two fashion shows instead of one. The first show was at 1 p.m. with the second one at 3.
"We had models in wedding gowns and bridesmaids gowns," Smith said. "We had tuxedos for the guys with different styles and colors."
Bridal Boutiques and Tuxedos of Bradford, Pa., furnished all the wedding and bridesmaids gowns, along with half of the tuxedos. The Lyon's Den of Jamestown supplied the other half of the tuxedos.
A grand prize giveaway for a wedding package worth $11,000 was won by Nikki Hayward and Mike Capasso of Ohio.
Smith offered some words of wisdom for brides-to-be planning their wedding this year.
"Plan early," she said. "Secure your venue as early as possible. Build around the venue."
Smith was very pleased with how well the 2011 show went.
"The vendors were great," Smith said. "We have many, many repeat vendors we've had since our first year. Our venue itself is something to come check out. It's definitely a gorgeous facility. We do everything from start to finish, from setting up to breaking down. You walk in and show up. We do everything else."
Kathleen Dennison, assistant general manager of the Clarion Hotel, is still planning for their upcoming bridal show on Sunday, Nov. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The White Inn, previously owned by Dennison and her husband, was one of the first locations in the area to hold a bridal show.
"We held them on the weekend before the Super Bowl - either the last weekend in January or the first weekend in February," Dennison said. "Our first show was in 1995 and our last show was in 2005."
Her experience at the White Inn has definitely made things easier as she prepares for the upcoming bridal show at the Clarion Hotel, where she has worked since January.
"A lot of the issues are the same," she observed. "We're working with a lot of the same vendors. Because of my experience at the White Inn, I'm already familiar with many of the vendors in the area. It's also given me ideas about things that work well and things that don't work well."
Last year, the Clarion Hotel held their bridal show in April. Since April is close to Mother's Day and Easter, they decided to change the date to November because now they are busy planning for their "dockside bands."
"This is a better time frame for people to book their venue for a 2012 wedding," Dennison said. "This will be the 11th year the Clarion Hotel has held its bridal show."
Bridal House New Beginnings in Fredonia will be the local vendor showcased in their bridal show. The store is easily accessible to brides-to-be in the Dunkirk/Fredonia area, she explained.
"We are continuing to stick with local vendors - we know the products they offer are good quality," Dennison said. ""We really do our best to pick local vendors. So brides can find everything in one spot. One-stop-shop!"
With her many years of experience, Dennison has seen wedding receptions change considerably. She has noticed that fewer modern brides are choosing to have traditional sit-down meals at their weddings.
"Going back about 10 years or so, the weddings were sit-down plated dinner - they used to be almost all that way," she said.
Now, she estimates, about one-third of wedding day dinners are sit-down, one-third are hors d'oeuvres stations and one- third are just cocktails.
"We are seeing an equal mix of those formats," Dennison said.
CONTINUING TO GROW
The 11th annual bridal show hosted by WKZA 106.9 KISS FM was a big hit at the Fenton Grill.
"This was only our second show at the Fenton Grill - since its inception, it's been at three different locations," Sherrie Brookmire, general sales manager of WKZA, said. "It gets bigger every year so that's why we moved it the two previous times. It grows in size with the number of girls that come and the number of vendors. It keeps growing."
This year's show was attended by more than 300 people.
"It's been consistent in numbers the last two years," Brookmire said. "As we were able to add more vendors, then we've also been able to attract more of the area's brides. So our numbers have gone up every year."
Fashions on Main in Falconer outfitted the dresses and tuxedos for their trunk show.
"The girls model the clothes and wander through three areas of the Fenton Grill during the two showings," Brookmire said. "That makes it up close and personal. If people want to touch the dress or ask them something specific about the maker, they can on a one-on-one. This year pastel colors were popular, from bright oranges, to yellows, to lavender. The colors were more vibrant and brighter."
Longtime vendors showcasing a splash of colors and talent were Cakes By Joyce & Peggy of Fredonia and Lakeview Gardens of Jamestown.
"Lakeview Gardens did the floral arrangements for the models," Brookmire said. "The different kinds of flowers they are using now are wonderful and the bright colors leap out at you, in a good way. The girls from this generation can do so much more. Things are so much more creative. That's a big difference."
Planning and finalizing everything early for your wedding is the name of the game when you want a certain photographer or florist for your wedding. Brookmire said one photographer at the show was in such high demand, brides were willing to change their dates in order to accommodate is already nearly-full schedule.
"They need to contact them right away," Brookmire advised. "These folks are busy."
Arranging all vendors as far in advance as possible is an easy way to make the big day less stressful. And, after all, a wedding shouldn't be about stress - it should be about making memories to last a lifetime.
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