Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Like A Bridal Extravagaaaaaanza

You won’t blame for wanting to get away, right?  I mean, on Tuesday, January 7, The Weather Channel said Ann Arbor was -3 degrees with a wind chill of -26.  This isn’t what I signed up for in moving here.  Oh wait, I guess it was.  So let me try to take advantage of my surroundings: Never having been outside when it feels like -26 (that I can remember), I went out in the morning and did some science experiments. First I slowly poured a cup of water out to see if it would freeze before it hit the ground.  It didn’t.  Then I threw the rest of the cup into the air to see if it would turn to snow before hitting the ground.  It didn’t.  I may have seen a few white wisps come off the water pellets.  But it also could have been my eyes seeing what my mind really wanted to see.  So there you go!

Oh, you wanted to hear about the other ways I took advantage of the sub-zero weather?  There aren’t any.  Not that I was lazy and decided to avoid the arctic tundra (although I wouldn’t blame you for making that assumption).  There just literally are no other advantages to this temperature besides doing sixth grade science experiments.  So if anyone has any other “earth science” tests I can run with minimal equipment, I’m ALL EARS.

Instead we went to Texas!  Yay!  It was like summer there.  Not really, but by comparison.

We were in for a low-key weekend of  hanging out with my sister and going to dinner with some work friends.

But also….

The Houston Bridal Extravaganza Show!!  Woo woo!!

A bridal expo is not normally a place I would ever consider going, and I may have even laughed at other people (probably behind their backs) who would think about attending such a debacle.  So when my sister asked if I wanted to go, of course I had to say YES!

What better place to go to a bridal extravaganza than in Texas, right?  Preconceived notions:  1) It’s going to be a cattle herd  2) It’s going to be tacky  3) I will get lots of free samples  4) There will be a lot of cheesy bridal tiaras worn  5) It will be AMAZING people watching.  Sounds like an excellent way to spend the day.

We signed up for the more expensive ticket ($20 vs. $12.13 – yes: 12 dollars and 13 cents – tax included I guess) so that we could see Darcy Miller, Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Weddings, speak.

Our tickets said to arrive by 10:30am for the 11:30am talk, so I’m thinking, Whoa, this place is going to be packed and this woman must be presenting to an auditorium or something.

Nope.  We got there around 10:45 and breezed right in.  Literally, we were the only people entering the special “VIP” area for those who had bought the more expensive tickets, and thus we were bombarded with “helpful” volunteers wielding clipboards asking us to fill out detailed information about ourselves and our wedding plans (sorry for the ensuing junk mail, Mark).

We were then led up to a kiosk where we could have what looked to be envelope return labels printed.  They were like, “You get 30 labels for free, and then you can buy more for $5.”  My sister and I were like, “What are you talking about?  Why would I need address return labels, and why would I ever consider buying these?”  It was as if we were bridal show experts and should know ALL about labels.  Um.

It was explained to us that they printed these labels so when we were going to various vendor booths, we wouldn’t have to write out our information over and over again, we could just affix an address label to the sign up sheet, and voila, we’d be added to whatever mailing lists we wanted!  I used a total of 3 labels.  My sister used 1.

We were then hustled into buying a $2 synthetic tote bag to schlep around all the “giveaways” we would be receiving.  And by “giveaways” they meant sales brochures and tins of mints.  Look at this huge bag, I must be getting lots of stuff!! What’s in it?  A tiny tin of mints.  Fail.

Luckily, by getting there so early, the rows of booths were fairly empty and we didn’t have to contend with any crowds.  Unluckily, by being some of the only people there, we were the sole targets of every vendor’s hawking cry.  We mostly got away unscathed because we weren’t looking to book any local farms or country clubs for our affair.  Nor were we in need of photographers, lighters, or cake decorators.

We did get sucked into David’s Bridal, where in exchange for a $25 gift certificate, you physically had to make an appointment at your local shop, including an actual date and time that you would be there to try stuff on.  You sidle up to the counter and say, I want my $25 gift card, and they then point to calendar and say, what day can you come in?  I was like, “Uh, I’m not actually going to come in for like, a prescheduled appointment.”  The girl looked at my slyly and quietly said, “It doesn’t matter, just pick any day so I can write it down.”  So I picked January 30th at 11:30am.  “Which store do you live closest to?”  “Uh, the one in Michigan?”  “Oh.”  Pulling out her binder, she located the David’s Bridal in Ann Arbor and booked the appointment.  Damn.  I thought I had thrown her for a loop.  Well, maybe I will go in and see what sort of accessories they have.  But I refuse to go at my scheduled date and time.

Next, I kinda really wanted this white tote bag from Men’s Wearhouse (fyi, I JUST realized this store is spelled Wearhouse and not Warehouse…clever) with a heart on it that was made up of various words like “Fun” and “Love”.  But how do I get said tote bag?  Obviously by giving out all of Mark’s personal information including social security number and eye color.  Sorry babe, I really wanted that bag!

Two large and empty tote bags in hand (well, we did have the $25 David’s Bridal gift card in one), we made our way over to the Darcy Miller area, which was boxed off with some white pipe and drape and contained maybe 50 chairs.  Much smaller than anticipated.  The space doubled as the “couture” runway area for the high-end fashion shows to come, for some who’s-ever-heard-of-these-designers designers, as opposed to the “regular” runway area, where the David’s Bridal fashion show would take place.

Darcy Miller was a cute little woman who seemed a little bit anxious and dove right in to the topic at hand – how to make your wedding personal with these ideas-that-now-everyone-in-this-room-is-going-to-use-and-will-no-longer-be-personal – without much of an introduction or background.  She had some good practical ideas too, such as putting out cellophane bags so that guests can take home some of the centerpiece flowers.  We didn’t take notes like some people (I know, that’s so unlike me), but that was fine because most of the ideas were either currently or previously featured in the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, a current copy of which we were each given, which was the most exciting giveaway of the day because those wedding mags are expensive!  We just got half our money back!  Score.

I did like seeing the photos of her own wedding: a Jewish ceremony at the Four Seasons in Manhattan (a venue that both my sister and I immediately recognized without being told, due to its featured prominence on various Bravo reality TV shows).  Black tie, 300 people, obviously so out of anyone’s normal price range, but beautiful nonetheless.  She HAS been the Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Weddings for 20 years so she clearly knows what she’s doing.

After she answered some benign audience questions, everyone evacuated the area as if it were on fire to get to the pending David’s Bridal runway show across the convention center.  Alternatively, some people jumped up to stand in line to meet Darcy and buy her wedding planning/scrapbooking book.  I think I can figure out how to glue pictures of wedding dresses into a binder without having to be told that this is the page for wedding dress pictures, thank you very much.

Which reminds me that there were women in the room with serious color-tabbed binders.  My sister pointed to a girl wearing a Maid of Honor sticker who was involved with writing in her oversized organizer and questioned whether or not I was disappointed that she too didn’t have a MOH wedding planner.  I think I’ll live.  Of course, we were not wearing our free designee stickers (Bride To Be, Maid of Honor, Mother of the Bride), since my sister has a serious sticker phobia and cannot even be near them.  Also, it’s embarrassing and we are obviously too cool for cheesy stickers.

After the presentation, we wandered down a few uncharted aisles, and then called it a day. It was starting to crowd up a bit, and we had pretty much seen what we’d come for.  We didn’t stay for any of the fashion shows, but we did find one craftswoman who makes beautiful paper flowers.  I may just order some from her to have at home rather than incorporating them into the wedding somehow.

image_8 These are paper flowers on this cake!

We wished there had been more crafty things or cool design elements, rather than mostly vendors from whom you could rent lighting, linens, Rolls Royces, or venues, or those selling flowers or cakes.  There were, however, some truly amazing cakes: towering ones, ones shaped like a animals, football helmets, Starbucks frappucinos, and more.

image_7 Huge!

image_4 These cakes would be good for a Superbowl party.

image_1 Fish cake with Frappucino cake behind it.  And then that lame little white cake that looks so sad next to them.

image This deer head with the shotgun shells was my absolute favorite cake.  I feel bad for the deer.  So morbid.

There also weren’t as many silly people as I had expected there to be.  Yes, there were a few veils (one involving Mickey Mouse ears), and some matching t-shirts; one white stretch limo with a bride decked out in a white mini dress, complete with satin pageant sash, but for the most part, people were disappointingly normal looking.

image_3 image_9

It was a fun experience overall, and I’m glad we went, just to have done it once in my life.  If my sister wants to go back one day when she’s planning her wedding, I suppose I could be convinced 🙂

Some other fun photos:

image_6A seriously glittery tablecloth, neon flowers and black and white striped chair covers:  Circus wedding?  Bat Mitzvah?  (Actually there was a fair amount of propaganda targeted at the Quinceanera crowd, so I suppose this would appeal to 15 year old sensibilities.)

image_5 This shiny-suited slickster was a “magician” meaning he did one card trick to get you in the seats and then proceeded to sell you a “magical” lighting, DJ, flower package deal.  His barker tried to rope us in.  I just wanted a photo, Lady!

image_2 One of the “runway” models.

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