Despite current economic challenges, Alberta’s largest wedding fair proved a popular draw for thousands of brides-to-be who gathered at the BMO Centre in Calgary for a one-stop-shop of all things wedding.
The Jan. 17 Calgary Wedding Fair brought together more than 150 creative wedding experts exhibiting services and products ranging from intricately designed cakes, fairy-tale wedding gowns, breathtaking photography and destination honeymoon packages.
The fair displayed hundreds of dress examples with help from knowledgeable bridal consultants to assist brides searching for “the one.”
Kara Otuomagie, marketing and communications director for The Bridal Boutique in Calgary, said staff of the family-owned business enjoyed being at the show because it was a great way to meet their brides and friends of brides.
Over the past decade The Bridal Boutique has been a regular vendor at the Edmonton Bridal Fantasy fair before opening shop in Calgary and joining the Calgary Wedding Fair.
“In comparison to years past, however, it was quite apparent that there were a lot of brides, rightfully so, on the hunt for a bargain,” Otuomagie explained.
While the economy is not interfering with wedding planning, there certainly is a constant awareness of budget and a price consciousness that was present at this year’s show, she said.
“Brides, particularly with their wedding dress, have a budget in mind and stick to it,” she said.
The fair is an ideal opportunity for brides to meet consultants, browse gowns and try them on.
“The most fulfilling part of our job is seeing the look on our brides face when they’ve found the one – the dress of their dreams,” Otuomagie said.
“That overjoyed, tear-jerking, tingling feeling that melts our hearts and puts a smile on our face is always a reminder of why we love what we do.”
Making a budget and sticking to it can be a tough commitment, but not impossible.
When it comes to budgeting, Cake by Beth Louise makes catering delectable desserts to guests a piece of cake.
Louise, who is a SAIT Baking and Pastry Arts graduate, said the downturn in the economy has a silver lining for smaller business owners.
“I’m not the highest price in wedding cakes,” Louise explained.
“I’ve seen a higher volume in clients because couples are looking for more affordable prices.”
She offers the same quality and care as a high-end cake shop at a fraction of the cost, she said.
She pointed out that compared to last year’s fair, she had more face time with prospective clients because this year there was more inquiry on price range.
“Last year there was a lot of looking without worry of price point,” she said.
Princess Francisco, a Calgary bride-to-be, said she and her fiancé don’t plan on breaking the bank for their summer wedding in Toronto.
“Our wedding hasn’t changed despite the economic downturn,” Francisco said.
The couple agreed on a budget and is firm about sticking to it because they are solely responsible for all the costs.
“We’ve maintained a conscious and frugal mindset during the entire wedding planning process,” she explained, adding that they are watching their money because they are planning on buying a home.
There are wedding planners who are readily available to accommodate all ranges of budgets and price points.
Olivia Kennedy, founder and CEO of Love Crush Weddings, is an expert wedding planner who wholeheartedly brings bride’s dream weddings to life. With a background in producing music and wellness festivals, she specializes in event planning.
When she applied her expertise to the bridal industry, Love Crush Weddings was born.
As an independent consultant, Kennedy has also experienced a higher volume of interest in this year’s fair.
“To be honest, this year was busier than last year for me,” she said.
I’ve seen a higher volume in clients because couples are looking for more affordable prices – Beth Louise
Typically people who are getting married had put some money away for the wedding prior to the economic downtown this past year. But for those who don’t have the necessary means set aside, Kennedy said the fair is a great way to shop for deals.
“Right now I’m giving 10 per cent off wedding packages,” she said, noting that the discount is available when booking a free consultation before Feb. 15.