An estimated 1,000 people crowded into Marietta College's Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center during the 2013 Bridal Extravaganza -"From the Engagement to the Honeymoon" Sunday afternoon.
The annual event gives brides- and grooms-to-be a chance to pick up some ideas and learn about the host of wedding-related services available locally.
"This is by far our biggest show-we have somewhere between 300 and 350 brides attending today," said Marcia Stewart, event coordinator, wedding planner, and owner of Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations in Marietta.
Kiah Haynes, left, and Chelsea Gore model dresses for bridesmaids and brides during the 2013 Bridal Extravaganza at Marietta College Sunday afternoon.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
"We're trying to showcase local vendors," she added. "I tell all of my brides that a wedding can be a lot less expensive by using local businesses."
She said several brides are already planning for 2014 weddings.
Andrea Workman, 30, and Mike Way, 32, both of Parkersburg, are among those early planners. Their wedding date is July, 2014.
Couples that live in or travel to Washington County on average spend between $16,484 and $27,474 for their weddings.
The average wedding cost is based on the number of guests-estimated between 131 and 151 people.
A single guest can add $140 to $171 to the wedding expense, so controlling the number of guests is the best way to save money on a wedding.
By the numbers
The number of marriages per year dropped in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010:
In 2000 the U.S. population was 281.4 million and there were 2.3 million marriages.
The population in 2005 was 295.5 million and there were 2.2 million marriages.
By 2010 the U.S. population was 308.7 million and there were 2.09 million marriages.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"We're seeing all kinds of things here that you might not necessarily think about when planning a wedding," Way said.
Workman said she and Way have five children between them, but they hope to have a big wedding.
"Events like this help gain some ideas about what we might want to include for our wedding day," she said. "And we can share ideas with other couples, too."
Andy Fenton with Vogue-Swift Cleaners in Marietta noted dry cleaning and alterations are among the services people may not thing about when planning for weddings.
"We also rent tuxedos and provide preservation services for bridal dresses," he said.
Brother and business partner Adam Fenton said many women want to keep their dresses after the wedding, but the clothing must be properly stored.
"To do it right the dress has to be cleaned and pressed, then stored in an acid-neutral box," Adam said. "We also restore older wedding dresses. We've done some that were more than 100 years old."
Devola residents Cassie Shankland and her mother, Renee, had set up a display of jewelry and beads for their business, dubbed "Creations by Cassie."
"We started this business about three years ago and work out of our home," Cassie said. "But we've developed a very large customer base locally and through the Internet."
Their display of multi-colored beads, necklaces, bracelets and other items seemed to be among the most popular exhibits at the wedding extravaganza.
"Women can put together jewelry and choose beads that match the colors of their wedding," Cassie said. "It's our first year attending this bridal event, but we've had a really good turnout today."
Another first-time business at Sunday's bridal extravaganza was White Knight Limousine Services LLC.
Limousine driver Brian Brightbill said the stretch limo service should be ready to go within the next two weeks.
"We offer an eight-passenger vehicle for all occasions, including weddings," he said. "And the next-closest limo service is in Akron."
White Knight received approval to begin operations from Marietta City Council last month.
Whitney Rich, 22, of Sarahsville, was among the hundreds of brides-to-be who attended Sunday's event.
"I'm getting married in mid-July, so this is kind of a kickoff for planning my wedding," she said. "My fiance just proposed about a month ago, so I'm looking for some decorations and ideas, and just wanted to see what this event is all about."
Her mom, Tacy Rich, said Whitney is thinking ahead.
"She started buying stuff the day after he proposed, and has been shopping every day since," Tacy joked. "But there is a lot to think about, and we wanted to look for some good ideas here today."
Justin Guthrie, 23, of Parkersburg, and Deborah Loughrie, 21, of Rowlesburg, W.Va., said their wedding date is set on Sept. 21 of this year.
"This is our first bridal event-we just wanted to see what options are available," Loughrie explained. "We've been engaged since 2011, but just started our planning."
She expects the wedding will be a moderate event, with about 100 guests.
"Still it seems like this is going to take a some time," Guthrie added. "It's a lot more planning than you'd think."
There were at least 75 local vendors who participated in Sunday's bridal event, which included three live bridal fashion shows throughout the afternoon.
Drawings were also held for more than 64 vendor-donated prizes, including a grand prize of $500 "extravaganza bucks" to be used at any of the event's vendors.