Baystate Bridal Expo 2011

This year the Baystate Bridal Expo was just around the corner from where we live so I decided to stop by and check it out. Since I did not have a booth there, I was not courting brides, but rather just taking it all in and trend spotting. I also tried to take notes on a variety of vendors in the Boston metro area so that I could pass that info on to those of you who couldn’t make the expo.
My favorite vendor of the day was definitely Shoes to Dye for & More of Natick. They were very knowledgable and had an amazing selection of dyeable shoes, veils, and accessories.

I was particularly impressed that they made the point that your shoes could be used again after your wedding day by dyeing them whatever color you choose. For the bride on a budget, that is a GREAT idea. Another place they scored big points with me was their bridal ballroom dance shoes.

For my own wedding I bought a pair of ballroom dance shoes because they are so much more supportive of your feet and comfortable, and best of all, MADE FOR DANCING. These shoes offered all the benefits of ballroom dance shoes, but with all the beauty of a bridal shoe. Boy I wish I’d seen these back when I was getting married! The sales people at Shoes to Dye for & More were also not too pushy, but very helpful. To me, that’s the perfect combination.

While at the expo, I tried to make some connections with wedding planners. AAIC Wedding Consultants and Event Planners had a lovely booth set up, and the ladies were very nice.

I was really impressed with their attention to detail. They had some unique tricks to make the table look extra luxe without adding too much extra cost.

What I was most impressed by, as a photographer, was that they thought to uplight the beautiful cake. This is something that really highlights the exquisite details that so many wedding cakes showcase today. Kudos Ladies!

As far as bridal trends, it seemed like feathers are all the rage for 2011. Every accessories table I visited, feathers were a prominent feature. Feathers in the hair, feathers on shoes, even feathers in the bouquets!

Speaking of accessories, I just had to put this photo in because the way this set was displayed, it just looked all too much like a happy face.

In the end I could see how going to a bridal expo could be really helpful to some brides, and utterly overwhelming to others. If you are just starting your wedding planning, it may be a good place to start, but take a DEEP breath before you enter. So many venues that I never thought of as places to hold a wedding, like McCormick and Schmick’s and Buca Di Beppo, had booths and wedding packages available. Venues from outside the city were also well represented. It really opens your eyes up to all the possibilities that are out there for you. Also, if you are trying to decide on what type of invitation to go with, I would highly suggest going to an expo like this. It was wonderful to get to compare so many different designs and get to feel the quality of the paper in my hands.

The part of the expo which was definitely my favorite was cake tasting. Skipping lunch in anticipation of stuffing myself full of tasty wedding cake, I was sad that only a few bakeries had booths, but those that did were the talk, and the taste, of the expo. The samples for tasting at Ivy’s and Bean Counter Bakery were moist and DELISH! As far as the design of the cakes, shows like Ace of Cakes are really making local bakeries step up their game.

If you are looking for a truly ornate cake, Bean Counter Bakery looked to be the place to go with. Their spectacular lace detailing on their cakes was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I would classify it as edible art.

If you are looking for a more unusual, whimsical, fantasy cake, then Ivy’s Fine Cakes and Pastries is the bakery for you. When a bride came by interested in getting a cake for her halloween wedding, the owner had oodles of creative ideas, and even had in her portfolio images of previous halloween wedding cakes.

Last, but certainly not least, was a trend that made me the most happy. The size of bouquets seems to be decreasing finally. Bouquets had gone from being lovely accessories, to being larger (and heavier) than most centerpieces! The people at flou(-e)r did a great job of creating a traditional bouquet with ivory roses, but added a modern twist with a vase that had purple uplighting, which was complimented by purple uplighting of orchids submerged in water in the centerpieces.

Going to a bridal expo can also result in getting some cool freebies and coupons for the brides. For example, Things Remembered was giving away and engraving on site silver key chains. Other vendors provided large discounts for signing up on site for their services. Unless you have done your research in advance about the vendors that will be on site at the expo, I would suggest you not take them up on these types of offers. If you have one, bring a smart phone, and look at their wedding wire or yelp reviews if they have any. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Good luck with your wedding planning!

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