By Casey Nilsson
Earlier this year, I was bagged and dragged (that’s offensively dramatic; I’m sorry) to a wedding expo. Aside from the lovely, lovely ladies at Rhode Island Monthly’s Engaged booth, I wasn’t super enthused. The only elements a simple bride could enjoy were free cupcake samples and scrumptious mimosas (luckily, both were bountiful).
I’m not saying these expos aren’t for you; they really could be! I just didn’t feel like I belonged there. Case in point: the bridal fashion show. As models in heavy, bedazzled, expensive gowns clambered down the runway at the cue of a booming MC, I glanced around for my simple-gal compatriots. I was alone in a sea of oohs and aahs. And so I trotted back to cupcake lane; good thing I bought my dress big.
I went to the expo expecting to get some trendy, affordable ideas; within a week, I tossed nearly all of the informational pamphlets, 20 percent off coupons and business cards. I’d call it a bust, but then I remember the cupcakes.
So imagine my surprise to learn that the wedding market of my dreams is a mere drive down 114. The faces behind three East Bay mainstays — Muse Handcrafted, the Wooden Midshipman and the Greenery — have partnered up to assemble an indie wedding showcase with a party vibe, scheduled for next month at Simply Devine restaurant in Warren. It’s brandy new, it’s called Rhody Wed, and I think you might like it.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about for quite a few years,” says Elizabeth Kiepert, owner of Muse Handcrafted. “There are businesses in Warren that are wedding-related and they’re sort of going under the radar.”
At Muse, Kiepert features American jewelers who create on-trend, elegant wedding and engagement rings as well as other nuptial-ready jewels. (Kiepert also sells cool, affordable prints, but that’s for another day.) The Wooden Midshipman’s Katie Dickson speaks the language of indie decor fluently with funky tableware, decorations and more, while Bridget Tierney of the Greenery boasts full floral services with a local focus and fair-trade gifts.
“These are things that are important to us,” Kiepert says. “That’s really a lot of what Warren is: artists, indie designers, writers; it’s an artist-heavy community.”
Kiepert says about half of the showcase vendors are from Warren and half will come from areas across the state. “We’re doing more of a fun party atmosphere than that horrible word, ‘expo,’ ” she says. “The expo route is a little bit stuffier and more formal than any of us are. We are much more indie-oriented in what we carry and how we present it, but also our personalities are relaxed and conversational. It’s more of an extension of our philosophy.”
What do these women think they’re doing? Don’t they understand that planning a wedding is a scary, isolating thing that turns women into vile monsters in white — and makes their partners run in the opposite direction? They’re interrupting the cycle!
Okay, rant over.
No, wait, I’m not done. Please hold while I rant a little more. I have an incredible man (Hi, Scott!) who wants to be a part of the wedding every step of the way — he’s actually clocked more planning time than his bride-to-be, if we’re telling the truth — but there’s no way he’d go to a wedding expo. And I don’t blame him; it’s kind of a ladies’ thing. But if I uncovered the best-ever wedding idea at an expo and he wasn’t there to see it, well, then we’d be starting off on the wrong foot altogether. He’d already be behind. I’ve heard plenty of women complain that they curated their whole wedding alone, but wouldn’t it be more practical if both partners felt comfortable in the planning environment — and right from the start?
Getting back on track, now: If a lax day of live music (both wedding cover bands and a string quartet, Kiepert says), cocktails, food truck fare and vendors sounds like a nice way to spend an April afternoon with your honey, then this is the wedding non-expo for you. Plus, the first 100 registrants get a free swag bag chockfull of goodies and coupons. Here’s a little of what you can expect on the day:
- All-American jewelry
- Table decor ideas
- Catering ideas
- Food samples
- Hair styling vendors
- A Rhody Wed raffle for advanced ticketholders
- “Wedding feather hats that are totally gorgeous,” says Kiepert
- Local officiants
- Cakes and goodies on display
- Wedding favor ideas
- Reception music
The Details: April 21. Noon–5 p.m. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Simply Devine, 125 Water St., Warren. Visit rhodywed.com for more information or to purchase tickets.
Casey Nilsson is the copy-editing extraordinaire for Rhode Island Monthly magazine. She’d like to marry her dreamboat, throw a personal, romantic reception and avoid angering any immediate family members — in less than eight months and for about $8,000. Follow her thrifty, DIY journey here or on Pinterest @cnilssonRIM.