I went to an alt-wedding expo, and lived to tell the tale

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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 the Lovesick Expo, I was left wishing it existed at the time of my wedding. In fact, I was like, “Wait, this alternative wedding expo has 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. 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.

 

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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.

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Soon after I arrived (I'm chronically late, what can I say?), the stage events started.

First up, was an awesome dance demo. 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! That's definitely not something you see at a mainstream bridal fair!

 

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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!

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!

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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 couples just like y'all!

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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?

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!

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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.


UPDATE: Offbeat Bride is now co-presenting the Lovesick Expo!

So, yeah: basically, we got so sick of hearing about how much fun everyone was having at the Lovesick Expo, so we decided to co-produce the events to help bring them across the United States! We'll see you this winter at the Lovesick Expo… we're hitting eight cities nationwide.

Comments on I went to an alt-wedding expo, and lived to tell the tale

  1. Hmm. Would you recommend going to one of these if it’s not in the town you’re getting married in and you already have photographer and officiant? I know there’s one coming up in Chicago, but I’m getting married in my small hometown . . .

    • Hey,
      Actually one of the attendants I talked to was doing just that! She had a photog and some others so she was looking for a few vendors, but mostly ideas.

      I think it depends on what you’re looking for. If you are looking for clothing, stationary, non-floral bouquets, or an engagment session photog then I think it’s definitely worth it. If you’re just looking for ideas or because it’s fun, then it all depends on whether you want to spend the admission. Lovesick was $10 at the door I think?

      Hope that helps!

      – Becca

  2. This is a great idea! We could really use one of these in Fresno, CA. With nearly half a million people I think there would be lots of interest!

  3. Fun event! Interesting comment about the officiant standing next to the couple so she wouldn’t appear in all the photos. It makes sense. I always step aside during portions of the ceremony, the couple is center stage. It’s all about them! For those of you reading who plan on having a friend officiate, pass on the perspective..

  4. The whole thing sounds fantastic, and great fun even for someone who’s not actively planning but one thing did jump out at me:

    “Like most of the vendors I talked to Renee said they hadn’t done any normal bridal expos”

    None of my buisness how other people run their companies but I have to wonder why not? I’d be willing to bet there are more than a few couples who would love the kinds of ideas shown at this event who will just never know it was an option (how often do we hear that story on OBB?).

    Maybe if more offbeat vendors were at regular bridal shows it would encorage more people to try something a bit different.

    • I can’t answer for vendors, but I will say that most standard bridal shows charge a significant fee to have a table. If you’re a vendor who offers nontraditional services, I’m not sure it makes sense to spend money to try reach a market that’s uninterested in your work.

      • This is the impression I got too. Bridal expos are expensive and most of the vendors don’t really want to do traditional weddings so it didn’t make sense for them.

        • Ah ok, that makes sense.

          I suppose I shouldn’t be suprised something wedding related costs a fortune!

      • I used to manage Go Festive! (the photobooth co. mentioned in this article). It’s true, traditional bridal shows can be suuuuper expensive. The company is small and privately owned and some shows wanted $400-$500 just to set up a photobooth, plus they often require that you donate a door prize. When taking into account materials cost for printing photo strips, plus paying 1 or 2 attendants to work the booth and schmooze with customers it often was plain not worth it. The great thing about smaller or alt bridal events (aside from meeting brides and grooms who are really cool) is that they’re often willing to take an in-kind donation (the company provides a free-of-charge photobooth and the expo waives the vendor fee). All vendors need to weigh the cost of attending a bridal expo with how much they stand to make in bookings directly related to that event.

  5. YAYYY! Thank you for featuring this event! I attended Lovesick Expo as well and thought what they offered there were definitely unique and different, unlike your average copy-and-paste pastel bridal vendor. The DJs from Hi-Society are going to be doing my wedding also — I can’t wait! VNV Nation at your wedding? Uhhh… BADASS!!!

  6. If anyone went with a guy, how was he received? I went with my husband to a traditional bridal expo and he was basically ignored most of the time. That is what I hated the most!

    • Most of the guys I saw were talking to vendors and generally engaged in the whole thing.
      – Becca

    • My hubby went with me and he seemed pretty receptive of everything that was going on. Especially with the burlesque show, haha.

    • My fiance Todd and I went to LoveSick and he actually had a pretty good time (he’s not a huge fan of crowds, so he was kinda uncomfortable, but not because anyone treated him badly). He also won us an engagement photo session with Maria Mack, which was AWESOME. And we both enjoyed the burlesque and the cash bar, plus going into Go Festive’s photobooth (I used to manage that company and so we’re both kinda addicted to photobooth pictures). The great thing about LoveSick was that it was at the World Cafe Live, which is an awesome venue (and would make a great venue for a rock ‘n roll wedding) so we grabbed some cushy couch seats in the mezzanine and sipped beers while waiting for the drawing and watching burlesque. Plenty of room for a guy to relax and not feel out of place.

      A week later we went to a trad bridal expo at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge (we went because it had one thing LoveSick lacked: free cake) and it was waaaay different. The few guys that were there kind of shuffled around behind their brides looking like zombies with wedgies. Trad expos definitely aren’t guy-friendly. There was a drawing for doorprizes, and they had seven giveaways that were specifically for men at the very very end. Problem was, you had to be there to win, and most of them menfolk had booked it for the hills long before. Predictably, Todd was one of the winners (I was surprised there were seven dudes left in the room!) but they made all seven guys stand in front of the assembled brides and line up to get their prizes, which made Todd exceedingly cranky. His mom (who attended with us) asked, “What did he just win?” and my reply was “A lifetime of embarrassing memories.” Still, a gift certificate to Mens Wearhouse is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I should really take that guy to Vegas…

  7. Have you considered sharing links to other alternative wedding shows across the country? They can be difficult to find when searching online because you often have to wade through so many mainstream shows to find them.

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