Ever since ruffled dress shirts and bridesmaid veils were all the rage, Milwaukee-area couples have counted on the Wonderful World of Weddings—Wisconsin’s oldest wedding event—for inspiration. The 2013 event is right around the corner, on Sat., Jan. 5, and Sun., Jan. 6, at Wisconsin State Fair Park, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“From a balloon arch in 1968, it’s come a long way,” says Jay Partington, manager of the show, which is commemorating its 45th year.
Though a new batch of brides attends each year, many exhibitors make the Wonderful World of Weddings an annual event. One such wedding pro is Muzic in Motion, who has been exhibiting for 20 years—one year longer than Partington has been running the show! “The Wonderful World of Weddings is the one show that is a constant throughout the years,” says Ed Buchner, the New Berlin entertainment company’s wedding sales manager. “They are the rock when it comes to shows…every year there is something new.”
Many exhibitors we talked to, including Beth Stone, president of Eva’s Bridal Center in Oak Creek, look forward to meeting new people. “We are able to connect with brides from all over the state and meet with them right as they are starting to plan their big day!” she says. “The show also helps us connect with other industry vendors who we can network with for future events, photo shoots, etc. It’s a great way to meet people all around!”
Before inviting local wedding experts to take part in the show, Partington and his staff check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure they’re the “best of the best.” This year, visitors will find decked-out booths of more than 175 companies, including 18 who are new to the show. “There’s quantity, there’s quality and there’s variety,” Partington says, adding that the large venue allows attendees plenty of space to browse.
“The variety of vendors makes this one-stop shopping for the bride and groom,” says Gayle Zielke, honeymoon and destination wedding specialist at First Choice Travel and Cruise in Waukesha, a 10-year exhibitor. “The couple can accomplish everything in one day.”
The wide spectrum of exhibitors isn’t the only feature that draws brides, grooms and their VIPs—there are a ton of giveaways. “Almost everybody gives away samples,” Partington says, “and the prizes are getting better and better!” Perhaps the most sought-after one is the grand prize giveaway, a five-day, four-night honeymoon (plus airfare) in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, sponsored by First Choice Travel and Cruise.
If you can be at the Expo Center at 12:30 or 3 p.m. on either day, the fashion show is a must-see. This professionally choreographed and produced event showcases the year’s hottest looks in attire, accessories and floral design. Catch a bouquet and you could get a discount or gift certificate from an exhibitor, so get there early, Partington advises.
“[Brides] love previewing what we have in the fashion show or on display and starting to formulate ideas of their dream gown before visiting the salon,” says Stone, whose bridal shop has been involved with the Wonderful World of Weddings since the mid-’90s. “There will be an array of new bridal fashions to view and several new ideas for decorations and wedding entertainment!”
“Even the grooms like this show!” Zielke says. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is!
**Contest alert!** [this contest is now closed]
Want to win a pair of tickets to the Wonderful World of Weddings, good on either January 5 or 6? Scroll down to the comments and tell us why you’re looking forward to the show by noon on Mon., Dec. 31. We’ll select five (5) winners. Purchase tickets at one of these locations, or at the door, if you just can’t wait!
Photography courtesy of Wonderful World of Weddings; some styles may no longer be available.