When I was planning my wedding, the idea of going to a bridal expo and being surrounded by all that white, floufy-ness, and monograms gave me hives. When I read about our sponsor, Philadelphia's Lovesick Expo, I was left wishing it existed at the time of my wedding. In fact, I was like, "Burlesque, booze, and hand-crafted stuff? Sign me up!" So when a few commenters asked for a report, I jumped at the chance. (I believe my email to Ariel included the words "Me! Me!") And it was awesome!
I walked into Lovesick and was greeted with a make-shift photo booth with backdrop and brightly color curtains from Wren and Field Photography and Love Me Do Photography. After checking our coats (for free! Is it just New York where coat check is always outrageously priced?), we headed into the main area and immediately hit up the bar.
The vibe was relaxed and friendly and it reminded me of some of the best craft fairs I've been to. Unlike stories I've heard of other bridal expos, the vendors mostly hung out by their booths — no one was chased down by an annoying chicken-dance loving MC or cheesy photographer. A few of the more outgoing vendors would ask "Are you looking for a photographer?" or "Are you getting married?" if they caught your eye, but that was the extent of it. (I have to wonder if anyone who isn't getting married goes to "normal" bridal expos …)
Everyone I saw was perusing the booths, chatting with a vendor, or just hanging out at the bar or in the upstairs mezzanine. There were a good number of couples together as well as ladies hanging solo or with their girls. DJs were up on stage playing an eclectic mix of not-annoying, not-super-poppy music.
Soon after I arrived (I'm chronically late, what can I say?), the stage events started.
First up, was an awesome dance demo from Society Hill Dance. They started with couples in formal wear doing the standards — fox trot, rhumba, and tango. Then they showed their offbeat colors and had two women do a swing dance to some rockabilly. The director, Shana, said they work with a lot of same-sex couples.
After the dance demo, came burlesque and when I say burlesque, I mean full on stripping down to pasties. It was fantastic! Peek-A-Boo Revue has a university and does bachelorette parties — Philly brides: If you are looking for Offbeat bachelorette party ideas, I'd definitely check into that!
After the stage events, came one of the most generous raffles I have ever seen. Sometimes you go to things like this and only a few vendors offer something or the offerings are kind of "eh." But not so at Lovesick! We're talking full on engagement and boudoir shoots, bridal bouquets, save the dates, event planning, handmade bow ties for your dudes or awesome butch brides/wedding party members and more!
One of my favorite raffle prizes was a flower workshop from Love 'n Fresh Flowers, which seems like a perfect option for someone looking to DIY their flowers. I, personally, was way too intimidated to try to do my own flowers. Love 'n Fresh Flowers offers organic and local flowers and just started a flower CSA (which is the awesomest thing ever!). Even awesomer, all the profits from the raffle went to Children Can Shape the Future, a charity that provides support for community education in Philadelphia. They raised almost $800!
Not surprisingly, there were a lot of photography vendors at Lovesick. Beyond that, though, there was an eclectic mix of vendors, including event planning, cosmetics, dress design, stationary, flowers, jewelry, DJs and musicians, and two photobooth vendors (the other was a traditional photobooth from Go Festive Fotobooth)! There was even a laser center (um, huh?), a mortgage/real estate broker, and author of a sexy, date night cookbook. (I, of course, bought the book!). You can check out the full list of fab-o vendors here.
Renee of Pineapple Farm Designs told me that she heard about Lovesick and thought, "That's our audience!" Her and her husband do all custom work and don't like it when people come to them and say "I want it to look like that." She pointed out a really cool, sparkly autumn-toned invite with a mountain bike, explaining that the couple had a mountain bike themed wedding and couldn't find anything with mountain (not vintage, not racer, but mountain!) bikes on them. Like most of the vendors I talked to Renee said they hadn't done any normal bridal expos — they're looking for brides just like y'all!
Kristen of Mountain Paper is planning her own wedding and had herself in mind when she recently launched her super affordable, eco-friendly stationary line. A package of invite, envelope, and reply card are just $2.25 each and all made with recycled paper using wind-power. My favorite part is her reply cards, which say things like "Just try and stop me!/Occupied having much less fun" and include a picture of a carrot, chicken, or fish for the menu options. We've seen it before: offbeat brides make the bestest offbeat vendors!
One of the most interesting vendors was Agran Events, a group of touring musicians in successful hardcore bands who are venturing into the wedding band business. They told me that they are struggling musicians who thought "Hey, I can play covers and I can play good covers, like the Smashing Pumpkins or The Strokes." They do play the pop songs they "can stomach" and a lot of The Beatles. Mostly, they just want to work with cool couples to make them happy. You'd get a group of awesome, working musicians who'll play the kind of music YOU like. If they existed at the time of my wedding, we'd have booked them in a heart beat!The only officiant vendor was the non-profit, Journeys of the Heart, to whom the producers were generous enough to give a discount. They never turn anyone a way because of money. Diane, one of the officiants, pointed out a picture where she was standing next to the couple, not behind them. The couple was elevated so she's not in all the photos. How cool and thoughtful is that? Of course, our favorite Offbeat Philadelphia vendors were there as well, including Love Me Do Photography and Allebach Photography. Mike from Allebach told me that they had a great turn-out — a few same-sex couples and a lot of brides interested in the tattooed bride discount stopped by the booth.
Tom, one of the Lovesick organizers, told me that they had double the turn out they expected — almost 400 people showed up and everyone, vendors and guests alike, seemed super happy. They sure did!
Basically, what I'm saying is that this was awesome! I mean, come on, there was booze, burlesque, and two free photo booths! You don't need to be engaged to enjoy THAT. If you missed it this year, add it to your calendar for next year! Seriously. Add it now.
This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to offbeat brides:
We're teaming up with Lovesick to hit six cities across the US…
…are we coming to YOUR town?
You guys, we are so freaking excited about these shows. We'll have at least one Offbeat Empire staffer in attendance at every show, probably get over-excited and clapping and squealing over meeting all y'all.