Last Sunday afternoon, I experienced my first bridal showcase featuring a mock wedding at the Kentlands Mansion. As I got closer to the entrance, there was a floral fragrance in the air. Little did I know that flowers are only one of the hundreds of details that go into planning such a momentous event.
The mock wedding was the brainchild of the Mansion’s event planner, Lisa Kim.
“The concept of this bridal show came when I attended one at another venue and realized that while fun, crowds make it overwhelming to get a sense of the vendors—they all start to blend together! I thought there had to be a better way. My supervisor and I brainstormed alternative ways to highlight the vendors while at the same time providing a more streamlined approach to assist newly engaged couples visualize their day,” she explained. Kim’s background for the past 20 years has been in social work and event planning, but this was her first bridal show.
A rental venue itself and a City of Gaithersburg entity, Kentlands Mansion strives to be an asset to the community, Kim said. The Mansion has held a bridal showcase for a number of years, but new for 2019 was a series of mini-events held in the side garden—makeup and skincare tutorials, a mock wedding, a first dance lesson and a wedding etiquette Q&A. Photographers brought photo booths, caterers created place settings and sample menus, florists fashioned beautiful centerpieces and other décor for the set tables, and bakers provided samples of cakes and other festive confections.
As one might imagine, the industry has opportunities for many creative entrepreneurial minds. Andi Kenney of Tart & Craft said she has always had a love for sweets and an eye for design. She had been baking cakes on the side, but this year she decided to quit her job and do it full time.
“As any entrepreneur will tell you, running your own business is incredibly hard work but it is also the most rewarding. I resigned from my job earlier this year and have been running Tart & Craft full time with the goal of opening a storefront,” she said.
Kenney lives near the Mansion and runs her custom baking studio in Silver Spring. “It was a great opportunity to exhibit in an intimate setting and it was perfect for a first-time exhibitor like me,” she said of the showcase. Her cake “takes the cake” in my opinion with its sophisticated yet simple presentation, not to mention its taste—very moist and delicious with unique flavors including some Asian-inspired choices. “I believe in creating sweets that taste as good as they look,” she said.
Cathy Sandler, area director of catering for the Holiday Inns in Gaithersburg and Germantown, said that brides and grooms “usually come to these events to firm up their decisions so they know they are making the right choice for them. They like to see what options are out there.” She discussed the amenities of the local Holiday Inns and noted that they do weddings often.
Victoria Willems, operations manager for the Gaithersburg-based Tres Belle Weddings and Social Events, talked about the gamut of planning and event services her company offers for weddings and other events. They also sponsor free get-acquainted socials and get-togethers such as sip and paint nights, champagne brunches and an upcoming Halloween event.
Nothing was left uncovered at the showcase. There are services available for everything imaginable, including travel agents, entertainers, photographers, dance lessons, video producers, makeup artists, catering and even a group called Premier Wedding Pastors.
The mock wedding was complete with a beautiful bride and wedding party coming down the Mansion’s staircase and proceeding out to the garden. One of the bridesmaids, Tam Castillo, got into the show because she configured the software for the online ticket sales program that the Mansion used for the first time. Castillo works in the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, and Kim asked her if she wanted to be a member of the mock wedding party. She visited the “I Do, I Do” bridal shop and choose a lovely burgundy Grecian-inspired gown that, she said, “I call the Selena gown because it looks like one she wore.”
It does take up to a year to plan a wedding, so anyone considering it has plenty of time to start now in preparation for the 2020 bridal showcase.
Visit the Mansion’s Facebook page for a listing of vendors and more details on the show.