Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Bridal Fair as a Bride-to-Be + Wedding Dress Found!

On Saturday, April 16th, I was headed to the bridal fair at The Ranch at Little Hills in San Ramon with two girlfriends. My Maid and Matron of Honor didn't come but I already assured them that I wouldn't need much from them. They are both pregnant and due around the same time so they're going to have their hands full. Some brides expect their bridal party to be with them for every event. I don't need that. I was to meet up with my friends, Julia and Brittany. I usually go to events like these to meet vendors and to network for my Event Planning services. It's a good place to gather information, see how they interact with possible clients, their portfolio without having to schedule a meeting or waste too much of their time when I'm doing research... and the complimentary food, wine and champagne is always nice. My friend, Jenny, usually accompanies me. That day, she couldn't because she was singing the National Anthem for the San Jose Giants. I'm glad to hear that it went well.

After traveling on a part of Bollinger Canyon Road that I never have before, I spotted white flags, ranch like fences and a gravel lot to my left. This must be the place. I parked and noticed that I had absolutely no cell phone coverage. It actually was going in and out a bit but majority of the time, I couldn't connect with Brittany, who was lost and she didn't end up making it to the fair. Julia did and she also did not get service. I'm glad she found it. But note to brides with AT&T coverage, you won't have service.

I thought the grounds were nice but I imagined it to much larger. From the parking lot, you have a walkway across a little creek, then slightly up hill to a reception desk where we were handed information in a blue report folder, four vendors up to the right, and immediately to the left is the ceremony space with a deck and chairs on some lawn. Further up and to the left is the reception area partially covered by a white tent. There, in the sun, we picked up two complimentary glasses of wine. Very nice. We tried the cake samples from a vendor I did not get a card from and a list of vendors that were present was not provided in the folder. The vendor was so kind to point out which flavor was which. Julia enjoyed the red velvet cake but I thought it was way too cream cheesy for my taste. You just can't go wrong with chocolate.

We also chatted with Party Booths for a bit. These photo booths and staging areas like it's prom are really popular nowadays. This one had props (which most of them should have without an extra add-on fee, IMO) and Julia threw on a green boa and I had the Minnie Mouse bridal veil on. We should have lined up different props for each photo but we weren't thinking.

The rep stated they've been in the industry for longer than others and suggests to "not go with a company that just started." They start at $645 for 2 hrs and can go up to $1,345 depending on options you've selected. I think it would be fun to have one at my wedding but that's not going to happen as we're most likely not moving in the direction of a full on reception or a big wedding party. But the photos of friends and family from weddings with these booths are a hit on Facebook.

We didn't stay too long at this fair. It was one of the smaller ones I have been to and not too many vendors. We were hoping to catch Brittany before she headed back home to the peninsula. We also decided to go look for wedding dresses just for fun. We waited to meet up with Brittany and were searching on our phones (thank god we have service!) for local boutiques. When we did, it pulled up a photo of the exact dress in an ad I pulled out of a magazine a year or two ago. I remember that I was sitting on the couch with DB in our condo and said "OOoooohhhh." I showed it to him and he said he liked it. I then tore the ad from the magazine and had it sitting on my nightstand for quite some time. Probably up to the time we started packing to move to Brentwood. We eventually connected with Brittany and I drove us to a shop in Danville, CA. Low and behold, Julia pulled a dress she thought was pretty. OMG! It's my dress!!! I got really excited that I was actually laying my eyes on it and I couldn't wait to try it on. We pulled other ones to try on but I couldn't wait to try THAT one on!

I did, Julia laced me up perfectly with her Renaissance Faire skills and I stepped out of the dressing room, onto the raised platform and couldn't stop smiling. I found my dress!! It was the one I've wanted, the first one to try on and the one they had in store fit absolutely perfectly. AND it wasn't going to cost me an arm and a leg...well, not both of them, at least. I definitely felt like I was going to be Monica from Friends and wanting to clean my house in it. Julia handed me a bouquet and a veil and I finally felt like a bride! I really didn't want to take it off.

I tried on three more dresses to be open minded, since I was there and for the experience. The second was a bit more simple but I wanted a bit of a WOW factor. The third came in second place but not a super close second place. It was definitely princess-y and I loved the bodice. If was I was getting married at the Kohl Mansion, I would opt for something like that. Fourth was a frilly dress that I didn't even bother Julia with lacing me up for. I'm in love with #1.

Thanks to Julia and Brittany for sharing this experience with me. It was so much fun and I can't wait to wear it in a year, minus one day.

What do you like and dislike about bridal fairs?
How many dresses did you try on before falling in love with your gown?

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