Bride show in Cape attracts few grooms

Monday, January 12, 2004

While hundreds of glowing brides-to-be attended the 12th annual Love and Romance Bridal Show held Sunday at the Plaza Conference Center, only a few men did.

One of the men who braved the event was Johnny Gast of Jackson, who joined his fiancee Jennifer Bridges of Tamms, Ill., in browsing the merchants' booths at the show for ideas for their upcoming September wedding.

"When I first got here, I think I was the only guy," Gast said. "It really felt weird. But there are a couple more here now. It's not too hard being a guy in this atmosphere now."

Gast patiently made his way around the conference center, staying close to Bridges as they visited every booth, hovering for long moments over tables with brochures and samples of wedding necessities.

For Gast, who drove from Memphis, Tenn., to Tamms to meet Bridges for the first time back in May, the event was of great assistance in making wedding day plans.

"Just about everything here has been very helpful," he said after they examined tuxedos and wedding dresses. "We've been here about an hour, and we've gotten some really good ideas."

But other prospective grooms weren't as brave as Gast, choosing to avoid the Love and Romance Show. Tiffany Lefler's fiance, Clay Dulaney of O'Fallon, Ill., was one of them. But he was glad she went when she called him after the show telling him she had won the grand prize drawing for a free honeymoon trip.

"He just said, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" said Lefler, of Chester, Ill. Lefler's mother said the two will now be taking two trips, one the couple had planned to Cancun, Mexico, before the wedding, as well as the honeymoon.

"It really takes the stress off," Lefler said. "We'll get to relax both before the wedding and afterward."

The point of the bridal show is to help relieve some of the stress that people like Tiffany experience when planning a wedding, said Vanita Jones of Precious Memories Bridal and Fashion Boutique and master of ceremonies for the event.

With weddings today costing anywhere from $5,000 to 10,000, Jones said, it can be tough to plan a wedding.

"All I can tell people is not to be afraid to ask for help. It can be a lot easier that way," she said.

Caterers, travel agencies, specialty candle shops, video production services, clothing shops and florists were all featured at the event. Even makeup experts and a tanning salon took part in the bridal bonanza. There was also a fashion show with the latest in wedding wear and prom dresses.

Jones said the show is popular, with people coming from a wide area to research their wedding options.

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