Something I’ve learned to love since getting married is attending wedding shows.
I once sent Chris to scout one with a friend, back when I entered wedding contests regularly and won two tickets to one in NYC. I couldn’t attend it as I was in Seattle, but he returned with tales of horror and cake. I was more than fearful, and avoided them for the rest of our wedding planning.
After we married and I settled into grad school and being a food writer, I started sending myself to wedding shows. Voluntarily. Often I was the only writer available, and so I took it with a grain of salt, but then I started enjoying them.
Here’s what I learned: If you’re engaged or with a bridal party, the staff know you’re on a massive deadline and they’re focused on selling that dream, and fast. But if you’re not in a wedding crunch, it’s a completely different experience.
The first one I attended, Weddings on the Waterfront, was a blast, and I’m pretty certain I had the most fun out of any of the people who weren’t vendors.
I hung out with Maureen of Posh Flowers, who gave me one of her bouquets at the show’s end. (I later brought it to my massage therapist, who actually cared for it so I got to see the flowers live much longer.) I photographed and ate cake. Seattle Sweets Co. was there, so I left with a bag of gorgeous vegan caramel which was coveted by the caramel addicts in my house. Walking around with my camera bag and goody bag slung on one side, the pale pink bouquet cascading down the other, I was practically beaming.
I even got a ride home from a lip reader, who was a blast to talk to. I still owe a few vendors a drunken crafting night.
This year, I went to the Seattle Wedding Show. It was more crowded and thus harder to talk to people, but I still ate cake and hung out with this really awesome guy who gave me a couple pounds of ridiculously aromatic garlic. It was fun.
I’m not saying this is for everyone – and it’s not always a great deal if you’re just out to try cake. (Weddings on the Waterfront was $30 per person.) Here’s how I look at it: hunting down new places to try cake and food from is a lot of work, and wedding events and similar shows do a lot of the legwork for you. Yes, they’re for weddings, but barbecue can apply to a birthday just as well as it can to a wedding. Just expect weird looks when you say you’re not the bride or groom.
I’d actually love to see more of these events for general amusement – I mean, could we have a birthday show with cards and cake and pie? What about barbecue party festivals?
If you have to go to one because you’re engaged or with the bridal party, or even if you’re curious, just try to remember that it’s not a competition. (Unless you make it one – cake bingo, maybe?) The vendors are there to help you, there’s cake, and you don’t have to agree to anything. Even if I was engaged, a lot of these are two day events, and I’d spend a day just wandering, exploring, and thinking, then spend the next coordinating.
Still, it’s so the last kind of place I expected to be excited to go to. Maybe I’ll see you there when the next wedding event hits my docket.