Recap: The Wedding Salon Mini Bootcamp

I remember, once upon a time, when the thought of attending a bridal show seemed about as appealing to me as going to a Star Trek convention. (Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just not for me.) I pictured masses of out-of-control brides-to-be, obsessing over the smallest details, crowding booths offering over-priced goods and services disguised as great deals. I'm sure that the images from Filene's annual Running of the Brides event contributed some to the mental image.

Well, I'm now one of those brides-to-be. While I have been known to obsess over small details that no one else will probably even notice, I don't quite think of myself as out of control. The truth is, I've never been a fan of the wedding-in-a-box. I don't want what so many others seem to have: bubble favors, silver bells, Jordan almonds, and personalized bedazzled tank tops for me and my bridal party. Like the Trekkie conventions, it's just not for me. For this reason, I've chosen the DIY route for most of our options.

There are aspects to the wedding, though, that I just can't do myself (though, believe me, I've given it some thought). After researching sites like Fifty Flowers and Grower's Box, I admitted that with limited help available, arranging my own ceremony and reception flowers (in the heat of summertime in Miami) probably isn't the best idea. And while I've taken two cake decorating courses and have baked several lovely creations over
the years, I'd be taking on way more than I could manage by making my own cake. The same with the photography, as Smarty's brother is a professional photographer but also happens to be the Best Man. So began my search for the florist, the baker, and the photograph taker.

In November, I received an e-mail from The Knot informing me of The Wedding Salon event planned at The Biltmore Hotel. With a little hesitation, I signed up for Smarty, my mom and I to attend. I didn't exactly know what to expect, but based on the venue, I anticipated something well-organized and was hopeful to meet some decent vendors. Little did I know that I would have an AMAZING time and find both my photographer and my florist! Smarty even admits to enjoying himself. Plus, the great gift bags were an unexpected incentive (filled with lots of great goodies!

Well, when I heard that The Wedding Salon was hea
ding back down south for a Mini Bootcamp, I registered immediately. The event was held last night on Miami Beach at Casa Casuarina. The venue's name didn't immediately ring a bell, though, on the drive over I realized that I was heading to the former Versace Mansion. (Fancy!)

The Mini Bootcamp promised the latest tip and trends in wedding planning, as well as access to leading industry experts and top local vendors. This was accomplished through a series of Q&A sessions with representatives from various bridal industry sectors, such as catering, event coordinating, linen rentals, photography, skincare, and travel planning.

After the sessions, brides-to-be were invited to sip champagne and sample hors d'ouevres, meet with the presenters, browse the lovely gowns on display from Chic Parisien, and tour two of the luxurious (yet pricey!) hotel suites avaialable at Casa Casuarina.

I really enjoyed speaking with the agent from the Barbados Board of Tourism, who helped me to realize that an all-inclusive resort is probably not the best bet for our honeymoon (which has yet to be determined). Since Smarty and I would be interested in activities far more adventurous than just lounging poolside, we'd end up having to pay additional for our excursions if staying at a Sandals-like resort. Good to know!

My impression is that The Wedding Salon Mini Bootcamp is a great experience for brides-to-be just beginning the wedding planning process. For those who are quite a ways into their planning already, there may not be too much to learn at the Mini Bootcamp. For brides-to-be in any stage of planning, though, I would really suggest attending The Wedding Salon's regular events. The next one in South Florida is scheduled for Monday, June 15th at The Gansevoort Hotel on Miami Beach.

After the show, my mom treated me to dinner at Loftin's 1116 inside the Casa Casuarina courtyard. What a beautiful place!

What are some opinions regarding wedding planning and the industry that you have changed your mind about since becoming engaged?

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