March 30, 2010

For wedding industry entrepreneurs Sasha Sue Peach and Anelia Shimansky, the chance to meet potential clients without  paying for booth space was a rare opportunity.  Both said the Simply Beautiful, Simply Bridal Show could offer a real boost to their budding businesses. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service sponsored the recent event along with the Kentucky Perfect Wedding Guide at Providence Christian Church in Nicholasville.

“I’ve only been in business for a short time and this opportunity has already given me several contacts,” said Shimansky, whose company offers a variety of wedding gowns to rent in sizes 2 to 30. “New businesses usually can’t afford to participate in bridal shows, but this one allows us to meet clients and also meet others in the industry; we can help each other out.”

Peach’s event planning business focuses on creating “all of the magic with none of the markups.” She was emotional trying to describe what the free opportunity meant to her.

“Especially in this economy, young, smaller businesses can’t afford large vendor fees at some of the shows,” she said. “This event really is promoting newer businesses and makes us more accessible to clients and also gives us a chance to build new relationships with other new businesses.”

Peach and Shimansky said they will work together in the future to provide bridal clients with a full range of services.

The same way that vendors were able to set up free at the event, brides and other participants did not pay an entrance fee. Event organizer and UK Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Jessamine County, Marisa FitzGerald-Aull said she wanted the event to really help brides who wanted to spend money on the things that matter most and yet still have a beautiful wedding.

“In this economy we wanted to help out brides and vendors and really promote smaller, home-based businesses,” she said. “We plan to send the registrants’ contact information to the vendors so they can send them special offers and follow up with them after the event. We’ll also send the information to extension agents in the participants’ home counties as well, and they can possibly get them involved in a local Extension Homemakers’ club.”

With approximately 25 vendors showing everything from gowns and jewelry to cakes and photography, attendees got a well-rounded idea of what they need to plan their perfect day.

Ronald Werner-Wilson, chair of the UK Family Studies Department offered a session about couple’s communication called “He Said – She Said.” Participants learned basic differences in how men and women communicate and a few strategies for communicating with a spouse.

Shimansky’s business offered a fashion show that showcased gowns for flower girls, bridesmaids and brides.

Attorneys Doug and Karen Howard led a session called MatriMONEY aimed at helping couples combine assets and manage family finances.

The last session of the day focused on wedding photography. Professional Photographers Loretta and Ike Adams talked to brides about how they could get the most out of their wedding photography and how to choose the photographer that’s right for them.

“We really had a lot of information to offer and tons of door prizes,” Aull said. “We’ll definitely evaluate the show and if we see a need to make it a recurring event, we’ll see what we can do.”

Shannon Christie, representing the Kentucky Perfect Wedding Guide, said it was a great opportunity for them to get their publication in bride’s hands and also show potential vendors what advertising in the publication could do for their business.

“We really thought the free aspect for the vendors was unique for a show like this,” Christie said. “We also think it’s great when some of the smaller areas outside the larger cities get involved in these type events.”