“An upscale social event made for modern brides,” was the slogan for the Bridal Expo that was held by Ocala Style Magazine in the Klein Center at CF on September 25, 2014.
At 4:30 p.m., the line began to form and I began to leap into action: snooping, looking, snapping photos and asking questions would be on my agenda for at least the next hour.
You may be asking yourself, “What does a Bridal Expo have to do with CF?” and the answer is more relatable than you think.
According to the annual CF fact booklet, the average age of a college student is 28 years old. The average age of a bride? Pretty close.
“I get all ages, but on average I’d say the most common age is the late 20’s,” said professional photographer and title sponsor of the event, Jesse Clements.
Perusing around the event, with camera dangling from wrist and pen and notebook clutched in my hand, I began to realize that a LOT goes into pulling off a successful wedding.
There is more to a wedding than the dress, even though that is one of the very first things people generally think of when images of a wedding come to mind.
“It’s usually dress, venue, and honeymoon,” said Laura Hughes, a vendor at the event that advocated Brides on a Budget. “And then food, and that’s usually something the groom brings up.”
And boy, was there food.
One of the first people I talked to at the event was Beth Smith, an employee and partner-in-crime with Chef Kulow Catering. Her table was overflowing with an attractive variation of different colors, textures and shapes.
“The food should be the fun part!” Kulow said. “The way we see food is that you should not have to stop what you’re doing, sit down and pause the fun. You should be able to be free and move around, and with hors d’oeuvres you can.”
Making my way past the massive offerings of decadent desserts, frilly cake pops and various other food samples, I noticed there were vendors at this event literally from all walks of life: fitness gurus, sun-tanning goddesses, organic “vegan” makeup artists, travel agents for honeymoons and anniversaries, horse-drawn carriages (which were outside, of course!) and even musicians.
I stopped for a moment to savor the melodious tunes of the talented live musicians, Gosia and Ali, while I gathered my notes and countless brochures, cards and pamphlets.
There was a happy young woman next to me and I couldn’t help but ask, “Are you a bride-to-be?” She looked quite young, and as it turned out, not only was she 22 years old, but she was indeed going to be a bride come November 2015!
“I just graduated Jacksonville University, but I live around here,” said Carsen Boliek, the bride-to-be. “I wanted to see the local vendors and since everything I need is all in one place here, I thought I’d be a good idea to come and check it out.”
So, why hold this particular event at CF?
“This is a centrally located area,” said Kathy Johnson, Publisher of Ocala Style. “The age demographic suits our target area and the CF staff is always so welcoming and easy to work with.”
Whether you are a groom or a bride-to-be, a friend, a vendor or simply someone who takes an interest in weddings, the Bridal Expo was the place to be to learn about the multiple aspects of this life-changing occasion. From food to music to photography to getting in shape in less than 30 days, this event catered to all walks of life and addressed any and every concern imaginable for a bride-to-be.
Story by Raina Barnett