Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A day to remember

Winnipeg's annual wedding show features more than 300 vendors offering everything a bride and groom could possibly need

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While some people are still paying off their Christmas credit card debt, there are those who are about to enter another shopping season -- one where boughs of holly will be woefully inadequate when it comes to decking the hall.

Try decorative trees and "culturally inspired tablescapes."

Wedding bells ring, are you listening?

Cha-ching!

Weddings are a $4 billion per year industry in Canada. There were about 157,000 blessed events in 2012, with an average guest list of 140 names and a price tag of $31,110 (including honeymoon), according to the annual Weddingbells reader survey.

The expected cost of a wedding is reportedly up 20 per cent since 2008. (There was a recession, you say?)

And since most couples get engaged in December, 'tis the season for a fresh batch of betrotheds to descend on the Winnipeg Convention Centre, which has been transformed into a virtual bridalpalooza, occupying 100,000 square feet of space on two floors.

The 23rd annual Wonderful Wedding Show, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 19 and 20) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is expected to attract its usual 10,000 visitors.

"Only so many people get married in Winnipeg every year, but I think we get every single one of them," says Sherri Rheubottom, show manager since 1996. "They'll come early and they all line up, like a rock concert. They're on a mission, they have a plan of attack."

Waiting for them will be more than 300 vendors -- wedding planners, photographers, caterers, etc. -- hawking everything from candy buffets and cummerbunds to dance lessons, diamonds, fireworks and floral arrangements.

Not only are newly engaged couples eager to get "looking and booking," Rheubottom says, they want to make sure their special day makes a statement and ends up being a memorable and entertaining event for their family and friends.

That might be why the average length of engagement, according to Weddingbells.ca, is 18 months and 24 days, up more than a month from 2008.

Planning a wedding is a major undertaking, and 51 per cent of engaged women say they're opting for a traditional one, with engagement parties, stags and stagettees and rehearsal dinners to boot.

It can get overwhelming, but having all of Winnipeg's top wedding professionals under one roof can help ease the stress, says Rheubottom. (Many vendors will book their entire year's business over the course of the weekend.)

"Getting married is such a huge experience for the bride and groom," she says. "It's an exciting time and we want to really make the show a fun, easy experience for them.

The show is set up, she says, so that brides -- a.k.a. VIBs (Very Important Brides) -- and their guests can make a day of it. In between browsing and booking dates, they can chill in the inspirational ambiance of the Brides Lounge, which will feature comfy seating, music, mood lighting and wine and bubbly. (Grooms-to-be are also welcome, although they do have their own lounge, complete with televisions.)

Would-be brides will get some extra pampering this year at the Bride Beauty Bar, with mini manicures and massages and makeup and hair demos provided by Soul Beauty Boutique. The Winnipeg company specializes in mobile makeup services to take the pressure off busy brides on their big day.

This year, brides and their bridesmaids will also be able to purchase special team T-shirts. They're $20 each and available in two styles: Glam Bride, black with script lettering that says Bride and Bride's Entourage, and Sporty Bride, with varsity lettering spelling Bride and Team Bride for the attendants. Everyone who purchases a shirt receives a free souvenir photo, with proceeds going to breast cancer charities.

Of course, before brides ever say "I do," they'll usually end up saying "yes to the dress" to the tune of $1,847, on average.

Two full-scale fashion shows, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, will spotlight 2013 bridal fashion trends from the world's foremost designers and Winnipeg's leading retailers. Brides will have the chance to view gowns that have never been seen before.

Turns out bridal fashion is no longer such a black-and-white issue. Apparently, blushing brides are attracting attention.

"The most popular colour for wedding gowns right now is blush pink. It's like a really toned down, almost nude pink," says Hannah Los, bridal consultant at L.A. Collection. "I've had a lot of people ask for it."

There will also be a lot of ivory and cream among the rosy hues, says Lore Lionetti, owner of Bliss Bridal. As for styles, the peplum skirt will be popular in 2013, she says, especially with a lot of texture, like sheer overlays and raw edges.

"Really soft fabrics are in," Lionetti says, "such as chiffons mixed with tulle, and beautiful, soft laces."

The Wonderful Wedding Show runs Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. (VIB entrance 10 a.m. but VIBs must pre-register) to 6 p.m. with fashion shows at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Tickets are $13, plus fees, and available through Ticketmaster or at the door.

carolin.vesely@freepress.mb.ca

Different, delightful

-- Reception guests may nibble on decadent doughnuts instead of wedding cake.

-- Another alternative to cake, or even cupcakes, is a cookie bar featuring a mix of homemade family recipes, as well as store-bought staples like Oreos, served with shot glasses of milk. Or try a candy buffet, where you can co-ordinate the candy colours to match your decor.

-- Some couples are having food trucks -- maybe a favourite lunch or date spot -- pull up to the venue to serve late-night snacks.

-- Designers suggest large-scale decorative trees as an alternative or accompaniment to tabletop floral arrangements.

-- If a venue can't accommodate a slideshow, try going with a low-tech, personalized approach to presenting photos by displaying them in spray-painted frames placed throughout the venue.

-- Instead of renting a photo booth, which can be costly, couples can make their own booth and either provide cameras or let guests use their own. Tiaras, feather boas or mini-moustaches and lips attached to sticks make fun accessories.

-- Make take-home favours either edible or practical, like pencils personalized with the wedding date.

-- Canadian Press

By the numbers

157,866 -- Estimated number of weddings in Canada during 2012

$31,110 -- Average actual cost of a wedding in Canada, including the honeymoon

140 -- Average number of wedding guests

291Ñ2-- Average age of an engaged woman in Canada

51 -- Percentage of engaged women planning a traditional wedding

51 -- Percentage of weddings that will occur between July and September

83 -- Percentage of brides who will have a bridal shower

30 -- Percentage of brides who find planning a wedding more stressful than enjoyable

-- Weddingbells' Annual Reader Survey

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2013 D1

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