I headed inside with my ticket (bypassing the $7 parking lot. Hello! Free Sunday metered parking.) and walked a gauntlet of models dressed in bridesmaid apparel. (Rule #1: Don't have models wearing the gowns; get real people. Model people piss real people bridesmaids off. What are the odds you'll look like that in a floor-length backless silk gown? Not likely.)
The models-turned-"real people" actors slapped me with a pink heart-shaped "BRIDE" sticker and off I went into the magical land of white-curtained booths, thumping DJ remixes, and shot glasses of cake.
The crowd was mobbing the front booths, so I headed to the back corner to work my way forward. A lot of the booths were helpful; I was able to check out St. Lucia hotels, get info on registering at certain stores, and snag a few demos of local videographers. But the real fun was the people watching and I am so so SO beyond sad that photography was "NOT ALLOWED," as stipulated by the massive signs outside by the bridesmodels, because there were some real classic catches.
My favorite? The herds, literal herds, of people that came in wearing matching shirts: I'm the Bride. I'm the Bride's Maid (yes, spelled like that). I'm the Mother of the Bride. I'm the Soon-to-Be Mother-In-Law. And two, yes two, I'm the Maid of Honor shirts sporting the same lilac floral design. I resisted the urge to point out that their shirts should say "I'm One Of The Maids Of Honor," or suggest that they look into their unique spelling of "bridesmaids." Ah, another day.
Instead, I went booth to booth sampling catering fare, tiny cake bites, and admiring the tux selection as modeled by the crew from JCPenny's 1998 formals catalogue. All-in-all I got my $9 worth in people watching and chocolate dipped strawberries alone, so really any "inspiration" I got (my actual intention of going) was pure bonus material.
I'll leave you with one parting factoid and a few rules, so you'll know what to do the next time you stumble into a Bridal Expo. The rep for David's Bridal told me now was a "good time" to get looking for my dress as they'd already had "387 of their 2010 brides purchase gowns so far this year," and wouldn't I like a $50 off coupon for my gown? Bridal peer pressure! Who knew?
Rules for Visiting (and Surviving!) a Bridal Expo:
1) Leave future husband at home, or at least let him chill by the catering booth. I promise, he doesn't care to be there and won't enjoy the booths as much as you will. Unless you tell him you're going for free lunch and people watching, then you'll both be super happy.
2) Don't actually try to get any work done there. Does future husband really want to get his measurements taken on the Civic Center's main floor? Doubtful.
3) Resist the urge to compare, unless you can win. Girls are wandering around showing off rings, comparing bridal party sizes, and talking about honeymoon budgets. Who wins here? Certainly not the guys (responsible for two of the three above topics), who have to listen to their own sizing-up, again, on the Civic Center's main floor.
4) Don't accept the offer to sit in the backseat of the rental vintage cars. Really, what good can come of that?
5) Know when to leave the party. When the sugar rush settles in between your eyes and the pamphlets you're carrying in your big plastic bags start to cut into your arm, grab a few to-go samples of cake and head for the hills. You're done here anyway.
6) Don't look at options for things you've already inked contracts for. Really? Recipe for disaster.
And enjoy it. After all, it's "your day."