E ven Juneau brides who are envisioning a simple, do-it-yourself wedding in the woods where they can proudly sport their xtratufs under their gowns will want to check out this weekend's bridal fair.
The Fourth Annual Bridal Fair, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, is structured with an eye toward making an often stressful event more relaxing for couples and their guests by giving local brides a chance to peruse their options for virtually every aspect of their wedding day.
"People can basically plan their wedding in a day," said McCormick. "It's a great opportunity for brides to come and see what bridal suppliers are available here locally in Juneau and Southeast Alaska."
Though the do-it-yourself wedding may seem like the easiest approach, McCormick's experience with her own wedding in 1995 led her to a different conclusion.
"My mistake was that I tried to do everything myself, and my family and guests were not able to enjoy the tours and spend time with me because I was so busy planning the wedding," she said. "I was running around, stressed out and not thinking of anything but the wedding."
Another big factor in her motivation to start Creativation Events was that when she got married, weddings and other local events did not allow guests to take full advantage of Juneau's central attraction: the landscape.
"Back then we didn't have tent rentals available. There was no outdoor wedding...unless you planned on getting wet. That's one reason why I went into this business, I wanted brides to be able to get married outside, whether it be under the Northern Lights, on top of a mountain, at the beach, or out at the glacier. I didn't have that option at my wedding so I wanted to give brides the opportunity to have that experience."
Over 20 vendors will be represented at Saturday's fair, including caterers, photographers, DJs, wedding apparel shops, coordinators, and florists. Brides may discover services that they didn't even consdier. For example, in addition to DJ service, K-Magic Production's Rich Fernandez can provide videos to accompany the couple's musical selections during their reception, such as a slide-show compiled from stills of the wedding couple. Chez Sante Massge will also have a booth, in case the stress has set in early, as well as the Plant People and Paradise Beach Tanning, among others.
The event is free, with lunch provided by Abby's Kitchen for $12. Door prizes include DJ services for a wedding reception from K-Magic Productions worth $500, a $300 travel voucher from Cyndi's Cruise & Travel that couples can use toward their honeymoon, a romantic night for two in a suite at the Baranof Hotel, a reception rental at DIPAC, and many more.
But brides are not the only ones who may be interested in attending; there will be a fashion show beginning at 12 p.m. will include formal dresses suitable for proms or other special events. The show is presented by The Wedding Shoppe & Boutique, with music by emcee Fernandez of K-Magic.
Laisne Waldron, owner of The Wedding Shoppe located at 300 Vintage Blvd., will be showing 15 wedding dresses and eight to 10 formal dresses. Recently, Waldron has seen a return to more simple styles in move back to formal elegance.
"A lot of girls coming in now are wanting less frill and not a lot of frou-frou," she said. "They don't want to have a big giant train at the glacier."
Hyun Lundberg, owner of Formals Express, located at 2490 industrial Blvd., agreed that the trend is toward more simple dresses but added that she has seen much more variety in terms of color over the past few years.
"Dresses used to be white and ivory," Lundberg said. "They now come in 65 different colors. Yesterday, one bride picked up an orange dress. Another bride picked up a raspberry dress for a wedding last August. Every year it changes."
Those who choose white or ivory often add color with shoes or a sash, Lundberg said.
"One bride had hot pink shoes. Who would have thought of hot pink shoes? But it looked so beautiful."
Lundberg is also a seamstress, so she can alter an off-the-rack dress to suit the brides wishes. And though she can sew the whole dress from start to finish, during the busy wedding season she usually does not have time.
"One time a bride had ordered a dress (to be made) online, but it wasn't done so they shipped the fabric (to me) overnight and I sewed all night long. the bride came over at 8 a.m., put on the dress and went to the wedding. ... I didn't get nervous, I'm used it to. But they were panicked, they were crying. And when it was done, they cried again because they were so happy."
Lundberg will have 20 dresses in the show, as well as tuxedos and options for ring bearers and flower girls.
Exclusively Yours, a formal apparel shop located in the Nugget Mall, will be the third participant in the fashion show. Owner Angie Woolfolk, who opened the business in December, said she will present four girls' dresses, three wedding dresses, and 10 evening gowns. She will also be showing tuxedos in various styles.
According to the Wedding Report, a Web site that publishes wedding statistics using data collected from surveys, the average bride spent $916 on her dress in 2008. Waldron said she thinks the average a Juneau bride spends for a dress is pretty close, about $700. Lundberg says she has brides spend anywhere from $59 to $1,200.
McCormick, who has been involved event planning in Juneau since 2000, says about 55 percent of her business is devoted to weddings. Most of the weddings she plans are with locals, but she also coordinates about 25 to 30 destination weddings annually with brides who are drawn to Alaska's scenery and the sense of adventure.
"We get all sorts of adventure enthusiasts. We even did a zipline wedding once."
McCormick said that in general Juneau weddings are a bit less formal than those down South, adding that while she keeps an eye on what is going on nationally in terms of wedding trends, she always asks herself if they are right for Juneau before trying them here.
"Wedding trends are headed more toward a high-end, interior design perspective. High-fashion furniture, chair covers, lit centerpieces and bars, with lots of ceiling decor. Brides are not only looking at linen chair covers, but spandex and other materials as well. There are also lots of different centerpiece options being seen in the wedding industry. Not only flowers and plants, but interesting shaped vases with fruit or other items, lights and even feathers are becoming very popular. It is not just the simple rose centerpiece anymore. It is whatever drives your imagination ... and it is out there."
Brides who attend Saturday's fair should keep in mind that the wedding services offered through the Bridal Fair can be purchased ala carte or as a complete package through Creativation.
"You can call us to plan your whole wedding, setup and decorate, or we can come and just do your clean-up."
If a bride is really strapped for cash, McCormick suggests still spending money on the photography.
"That is something you keep for years to come; something your children and grandchildren will appreciate." McCormick said, adding that high-quality catering is also a high priority in her book.
And, in a myth-busting aside, McCormick said nearly all of the Juneau brides she has dealt with opt for footwear other than the ubiquitous xtraTuf.
"As far as xtraTufs go, I don't see them a whole lot," she said, "occasionally, yes."
Contact Arts&Culture editor Amy Fletcher at 523-2283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.