Big band sound serenaded guests as they congregated at the Craddock Terry Gallery in the Riverviews Artspace for wedding ideas and excitement. Friends, mothers and brides-to-be filled the downtown venue for “Bliss: a Fine Wedding Fair,” hosted by the Lynchburg’s bridal blog, Hill City Bride, Saturday Feb. 26.
“Bliss is a live version of the blog,” creator of Hill City Bride Jennifer Prince said as the guests took their seats and waited for the festivities to begin. “You will have plenty of time yet to mingle with vendors.”
Along with access to Lynchburg bridal businesses, guests were given a chance to mingle, drink punch, eat cake samples and gain information from experts in the industry.
For Liberty University junior Lindsay MacInnis, who became engaged on Feb. 14, this event was a great way to survey her options.
“I haven’t started planning yet,” MacInnis said. “This is giving me a really good first look at what is available.”
The Artspace is located just up the street from another location dear to MacInnis and her fiancé.
“On the day we got engaged, we went to where we had dinner on our first date,” MacInnis said. “We went to the Depot Grill, a train themed restaurant by the water.”
MacInnis said her and her fiancé love trains, so it was a place they enjoyed going together.
Unlike other bridal fairs, Prince designed Bliss to be a more personal, sophisticated affair than what she said is usually expected at larger venues.
“I’m happy to provide brides with an event that’s affordable, but at the same time upscale and educational,” Prince said.
Much of the day, which ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., was spent in the large open gallery, where broad arched windows cascaded light on the flowers and candelabras, as well as the framed portraits and baked goods that decorated the display tables.
“I hope it feels upscale,” Bliss vendor and bridal photographer Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz Photography said. “It reminds me more of a bridal shower than a show.”
Before and after lunch, the brides were given insider tips on how to get the most out of their wedding through sessions with bridal professionals, including photographer Sabrina Deal of S. Carter Studios and entertaining experts Linda Hall and Mary Love of Love Is In The Air Decor, Cakes and Catering.
“It’s a great fit because I’m not a ‘show’ person,” Deal said.
Deal, who also teaches Visual Communication Arts (VCAR) at Liberty, said she enjoyed interacting and providing information to the brides through the seminars.
“I wish I had this information when I was getting married,” Deal said.
The seminars were led by local business owners, and were about helping brides understand how and where they should invest to maximize their day and make it theirs.
“After our session, brides seemed much more interested (in our work),” Cook said. “The sessions allowed them to see us as people, not just photographers.”
After the first session closed, the brides enjoyed a decorative catered lunch by Sodexo’s Flavours by Design, while chatting and listening to the music of harpist Sarah Enochs.
“We’ll have different genres of music throughout the day to give you all a taste of each,” Prince said to the group.
Of the 40 total guests at this first Bliss event, 23 brides were present. For brides like Shelby Luton, this event was primarily about coming together with other brides for the sheer enjoyment of it.
“I came today to be together with other brides and enjoy the engagement process,” Luton said.
Luton had seen Bliss advertised upon visiting the Hill City Bride website.
“I love Jennifer Prince’s blog,” Luton said.
At the close of the event, door prizes were drawn and given to a few guests. The gift prizes included the chance to win a gift basket from Spa 4109, decorative guest book designed by Church Street Bridal and the grand prize a five-night trip to Aruba, courtesy of Travel Bug Travel Agency.
“The event exceeded my expectations,” Prince said as the day came to a close. “I’ve had a lot of feedback already.”
Photographers Deal, Cook and Cheatham are all looking forward to what they hope will become an annual event.
“I’m already gathering ideas for next year,” Prince said.
For more information on the Lynchburg businesses featured at Bliss, visit hillcitybride.com or contact Prince at firstname.lastname@example.org.