Clark County Wedding Expo this weekend

Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds hosts vendors, consignment sale, much more

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

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If people take away one idea from this weekend’s Clark County Wedding Expo, event organizers hope it will be that everything needed to plan your I-Dos and other special events can be found on this side of the river.

The Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds is holding a wedding extravaganza Saturday and Sunday, and although the venue has hosted wedding shows before, this is the first time it has promoted one itself.

If you go

• What: Clark County Wedding Expo, featuring new and consigned dresses for sale, various wedding vendors, and live entertainment.

• When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. both days for the dress sale. Consigned dresses are being accepted through 8 p.m. today.

• Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

• Cost: $8. Register online for $2 off admission. Parking is free.

• Information: http://www.clarkc..., 360-397-6180. For more information about consigning a dress, go to http://www.getrid...>

Organizers aim to showcase local vendors while giving brides and grooms everything they need under one roof.

“It’s completely one-stop shopping,” said Heidi Wilson, assistant director for the event center.

Wilson and event administrative assistant Matt Ferris, a catering industry veteran, also tried to offer activities and services that go beyond standard wedding show programming.

“I wanted it to stand out and put it on the map as the event to be at,” Ferris said.

The wedding fashion show format and “man cave” area will help set the event apart, according to Ferris and Wilson.

Fashion show models will circulate the floor after walking the runway to allow people to see and touch the dresses, and ask questions about how they feel.

A men’s lounge with a pool table, video games, air hockey, barbecue samples and beer and wine for sale will give fiancés a place to hang out while their significant others browse, Ferris said.

But the aspect of this event he’s most excited about is Get Rid Of Your Gown, a consignment sale where brides and bridesmaids can snap up new and previously worn dresses at bargain prices. It’s also an opportunity for people to clean out closet space and make some money by consigning their gowns.

Event organizers had already received several hundred consigned dresses a couple weeks before the event, and Wilson said the total could top 500. Ferris will be accepting dresses from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Ridgefield event center.

These gowns will be sold for 20 percent more than the price set by sellers, with the premium going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. People also can donate their dresses, in which case 100 percent of the sale price will go to charity.

Consigned dresses represent a range of sizes and styles, and not all are used. Beautiful Brides for Less in downtown Vancouver will have about 60 new dresses in the consignment sale. Owner Kelle Herring also will staff a booth at the expo filled with almost her entire inventory, including bride and bridesmaid dresses (all new and under $400), jewelry, tiaras and veils.

The expo also will feature new dresses from The Bridal Arts Building in Hazel Dell and national chain David’s Bridal.

With the economic downturn, more people are looking for ways to save on their wedding dresses, whether that means shopping around for the best deals or buying used, Herring said.

And the wedding expo and consignment sale can be a great place to do just that.

“There are some real deals to be had,” Wilson said.

In addition to shopping for dresses, as well as tuxedos and suits from Royal Tuxedos in Fisher’s Landing, brides and grooms can connect with a wide range of wedding and special event vendors. Ferris expected at least 60 vendors — including caterers, cake makers, disc jockeys, personal trainers and photographers — at the event. Most vendors are from Clark County.

Representatives from wedding ceremony and reception venues, including The Hostess House, the Hilton Vancouver Washington, The Academy Chapel and Alderbrook Park Resort, also will be on hand.

Additionally, there will be classic Bentleys on display and, weather permitting, horse-drawn carriage rides.

And the entertainment won’t stop there. In addition to the fashion shows, there will be hula dancers and ballroom dance performances, as well as music by a violin and acoustic guitar duo, and an organist.

“There’s really something going on all the time,” Wilson said.

Mary Ann Albright: maryann.albright@columbian.com, 360-735-4507.