Brides Flock to Weekend Showcase for Ideas and Giveaways
Florists, cake makers, photographers and more set up booths in a packed coliseum Sunday, as brides-to-be and their entourages searched for ideas at the 24th Annual West Texas Bridal and Quinceneara Showcase.
“This is actually one of the biggest shows I think we’ve ever done,” said show producer and owner of the event James Pettit. ”I think we’ve had about 1,500 plus come through the door, in two hours. Our VIP tickets sold out, all our grab bags are gone, everything we brought for giveaways are gone,” he said, looking out over the jam-packed corridors between approximately 110 vendor booths.
The showcase moved back into the Foster Communications Coliseum this time around for the first time in three years, due to the growth of the event, partly attributable to the addition of Quinceneara couture.
“[We’ve been featuring Qunicenears] for about four years,” Pettit said, “just because of the growing market in San Angelo. Weddings are huge here, but Quincenearas are huge too, and I think incorporating that, it not only brought a lot more crowd—a different crowd—but allowed our vendors to show what other things they can do besides weddings.”
The show is also famous for its generous giveaways, and this year was no different. Several of the vendors put up prizes for drawings that ran throughout the afternoon, an estimated total of $25,000 worth of gifts passed along to anxious brides.
With so much to offer, women flocked to various booths, seeking ideas to complete their planning, while others came looking for something specific. One bride-to-be from Abilene, Lauren Hartwick made the drive down to San Angelo for a special offer Willow Creek, an Abilene chapel was having on services.
“We came here because Willow Creek had a deal,” Hartwick said. “I think we might have found a DJ and a cake place [as well],” she said. Hartwick met her hubby-to-be at Abilene Christian University, where the two run track together. She and Nick Jones will exchange nuptials on July 26. “It’s (the Bridal Showcase) great because it’s like one-stop shopping. Planning a wedding can be stressful, so finding a place where everything is nice,” she said.
Here in San Angelo, two local brides went to the showcase together to shop for ideas. “I got a lot of good ideas,” Holly Halbert, future wife of Ryan Lupton, said. “[I’ve got ideas for] decoration places, and food places and catering.” Shopping alongside her, Lauren Dowling, bride-to-be of Jake Webster, says she’s got most of her planning done. “I’m pretty far,” she said. “I kind of came for invitation ideas. I’ve pretty much got a lot of other stuff planned…I talked to a couple of paper companies [today],” she said.
As brides milled about, the real attention getter took the stage, as models for Jackson’s, Amla’s and Korona’s walked down the runway in different styles of dresses. A round of giveaways followed the fashion show, and the event culminated in the 4th Annual Cake Dive, which featured eight lucky brides in a search for a small, plastic diamond buried in a table-length cake.
Up for grabs this year was a pearl necklace with a topaz pendant for the bride and six pair of pearl earrings for her maids, totaling a couple thousand dollars in jewelry for one bride’s special day.
Taking their places around the table, the eight brides geared up to dig in, crumbling pieces of cake and icing as they searched for the hidden gem. After approximately four minutes, a winner had emerged: Alice Apolinar, engaged to Derek Medina, set to wed in July 2014.
After grasping the diamond in disbelief, Apolinar said, “[I’m] very excited, I’m shaking.” As Apolinar took photos with ecstatic friends and family, the events of the afternoon wrapped up.
As for next year, Pettit says he’s hoping to add more vendors and keep expanding the showcase. “We want to make sure that we get the word out there that this is a great show, and this is good for business,” he said. “No other show, except the rodeo, brings in almost 2,000 people in two to three hours. And it’s not me—this is a show that’s been here for so long, and we’ve grown it, we’ve added a lot to it, so I think it’s a lot of things that [lend] to the success of the show,” he said.