Here come the brides — wedding show draws 500

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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In six quick months, Jessie Dabney will marry her sweetheart in a Vancouver backyard ceremony.

Her mission on Sunday: Find leads on services to make it perfect when she says yes to Don Zeise, 40, of Vancouver.

Dabney, 36, was fully engaged at the Marry Me! wedding show at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

Her budget: $4,000.

Stopping at one booth, she offered, “I think the Dum Dums are way cute.” She was talking about little decorated lollipops that are table favors. “We’re going to have gerber daisies and crazy daisies and so the kids will love ‘em.”

The kids include Dabney’s daughter, Shaysie, 13, and son Payton, 9; and Zeise’s son Cody, 19, and daughters Haley, 15, and Whitney, 17.

“I think that the candy theme is really in now,” Dabney said. She noticed the candy arrangement at the Bash Weddings & Events booth. Jessica Church of Bash in Portland said her fee as a wedding consultant ranges from $800 to $4,000. That does not include the venue, food and other services.

Church was one of about 50 vendors -- bakers, cosmetic experts, DJs, florists, even a cosmetic surgery booth -- who offered advice at the four-hour show. More than 500 persons paid $5 (Internet) or $10 (at the door) to attend, said Misty Damico of Luxe Event Productions.

“We’re known for producing high-end wedding events,” Damico said. She and her husband, Greg Damico, are full-service wedding coordinators.

She said her shows are “breaking the mold of traditional wedding shows” because the shows are smaller and the vendors are handpicked.

“We’re trying to create an experience,” Greg Damico said of the show. He estimated the average wedding in Clark County costs about $23,000.

Tips and prices

So how about two good tips for future brides?

• “Keep your guest list intimate,” Misty Damico said.”That’s where the cost can get out of control.”

• “Consult with a professional coordinator,” she added. That coordinator can “save the bride as much money (as the fee), if not more.”

Misty Damico, who lives in Vancouver, said her fee ranges from $999 to $5,500. She said she has planned weddings that ranged from $10,000 to $105,000.

Bride-to-be Dabney, accompanied by friend Marion Lansdon, 38, of Vancouver, stopped by the Cakes by Denise booth, tasted a minicupcake and said, “I love the consistency of the chocolate cake pop. It’s moist but not too wet.

“We’re going to do little cupcakes or cake pops (cupcakes on sticks),” she added.

But a bit later in the show, Dabney decided that Bella Cupcake of Gresham, Ore., would get her business.

For cupcakes and a small topper cake for her 120 guests, the charge would be about $275, said Debbie Phillips of Bella.

Some of Dabney’s work is done. The second-time bride found a brand-new wedding dress at a charity event for $50. She has friends who will take care of the photography, videography, DJ work and catering. “We might even roast a pig,” she said. She’s thinking of renting a photo booth with two snapshots of those little four-shot strips going to guests and two to the bride and groom.

Thinking her biggest expense would be tables and chairs, she stopped at Abacus Event Rental of Ridgefield.

Pauline Mulcahy said chairs and tables would be about $250 for 120 guests. Her business also supplies linens, chair decorations, china, glassware and flatware. “We do everything minus the food,” Mulcahy said.

Dabney was impressed with Mulcahy. “She’s not pushy,” Dabney said of Mulcahy. “I like someone who is willing to talk to me and be a little more versatile.”

As they worked the ballroom, Lansdon, who has been married 17 years, offered, “We’re having a great time.”

Most vendors seemed happy at the show. Sunny Rickards of puddlejumpincards.com of Portland said she gave out samples of her wedding invitations to more than 100 brides-to-be.

Show coordinator Misty Damico also beamed, saying, “We saw 150 brides in the first two hours.”