SPARTA, NJ - More than 100 brides, and their families and friends, gathered at the Lake Mohawk Country Club on Sunday, for the Spring Ultimate Bridal Expo, brought to the brides by Clear Channel, and presented by Anthony Ziccardi Studios, and Chrissy O Designs.
Brides donned specially-made headpieces for the event as they walked around, and met with each vendor. Once the brides-to-be met with the featured vendors, vendors signed off on a special card, which could later be dropped into registration boxes, to be eligible for the event's grand prize drawing. The grand prize included a diamond ring, $500 in prizes, and a two-night getaway at Crystal Springs Resort.
Brides could meet vendors representing all facets of the process of preparing for a wedding, from caterers to travel agents, to formal wear and bridal stores. Photographers, DJ's, videographers, musicians, venues, beauty experts, jewelers, and florists rounded out the event, to help brides choose the components to make their special day possible.
"I'm able to see local vendors, which I like, talk to people, and know what's out there," said Ayla Salter, a bride from Hampton Township, N.J., who sampled the complimentary upper body spray tans offered by Salon 360 that day.
Salter remarked how natural she felt the tan looked. She was also wowed by the food from the Lake Mohawk Country Club, describing it as "spectacular."
Although Salter said she would have loved to have shopped local for all aspects of her wedding, she has already booked her venue in the Poconos, for a destination wedding for 2014, she learned more about the vendors from the Sussex County area.
"We do hair, we do makeup, we're a full-service salon," said Shannon McConachy from Salon 360.
She remarked how brides in attendance, like Salter, also reacted as favorably about the spray tans, amazed that their complexion was neither orange, nor streaky, as they had experienced in the past with other methods of tanning.
"It's one if our busier ones we've had," said John Pytleski of D'Andrea's Jewelers, of this expo, versus the others the store had participated in in the past. "It's been non-stop all day."
"It's a great event, a great showing, a lot of people are looking for venues," said Stacey Frey, who represented The Lafayette House. "It's definitely the engagement season."
As Frey said that, another bride-to-be stopped by to inquire what The Lafayette House could offer them for their wedding. The Lafayette House can cater lavish events at their restaurant and banquet facility, for both small and large groups, with buffet and sit-down dining options available.
Maryse Denzer of Bridal Beauty by Maryse, was there, demonstrating hairstyles, and makeup, including some done by airbrush, on models.
"The trials we do in the salon," said Denzer, of the process to prepare to help a bride look the very best on her special day. "The day of the wedding, we go on location."
Denzer is an international hair designer, who has had a myriad of experience in the industry, having created beautiful and classic styles for women over the years, and around the globe.
Sew 'N Sew Bridal and Tuxedo was present as well, with displays of gowns and tuxes for the big day. Both owner Debbie Anderson, and manager Danielle Strack have backgrounds as seamstresses, with Strack having had experience as a designer.
"We can customize any job," said Anderson.
The store carries dresses by the most current designers, as well as tuxedo sales and rentals.
Brides and grooms can sample what their wedding meal may be like before their big day, by enjoying dinner at the St. Moritz Grill & Bar in Sparta. Keith Holmes, the restaurant's owner, said he was at the expo to offer two things to brides-to-be. In addition to a decadent taste of what they could expect meal-wise, with the establishment's chef preparing a shrimp dish for attendees to carry away, Holmes said St. Moritz Grill & Bar could be an option for rehearsal dinners. The restaurant itself has been a mainstay in the Lake Mohawk Plaza for many decades, although it has changed hands and names a few times over the last 20 years, shifting from the original classic St. Moritz that had first opened. Holmes, who is re-branding the restaurant, is in the process of bringing it back to those classic days, in terms of the well-loved cuisine it had initially been known for, and, has given the restaurant itself a new look. The dining room has been revamped, so it is more open, has new decor, and an overall fresh feel. Not to mention, the reputation it is quickly gaining in the area for its fine cuisine, under Holmes' staff (Holmes told The Alternative Press he has been in the catering industry since 1984).
The second opportunity Holmes was there to present to brides, was the option of catering, with his other venue in Chester, Redwoods.
"In our catering division, we are doing a lot of parties this year," Holmes said.
Grammy's Chocolate and Fudge Parlor was there as well, and its owner Pat Halligan Kistle, has described her establishment before to The Alternative Press (click here for the article) as "Sussex County's best known secret." Grammy's is known for its homemade fudge, truffles, candies, and other decadent delights.
Halligan Kistle is in the process of expanding her business, to make it a "one-stop wedding shop."
"We have a referral system," she said.
That day, she had Flowers By Karen sharing her table, one of the vendors she partners with. Halligan Kistle said she could refer brides-to-be to other merchants in the area, for example, Sew 'N Sew Bridal and Tuxedo, which is along the same stretch of Route 206 in Augusta as she is, less than a quarter of a mile away.
For brides herself, she can provide them with an array of wedding invitations they can order through her, beautiful balloons for the finishing touches on their day, and chocolate wedding favors, some starting as low as $1 each.
"Some brides are opting to make donations to a charity instead of purchasing favors," Halligan Kistle told The Alternative Press.
In that case, some of them, she said, are buying the reasonably-priced chocolate spoons she creates, if they would like to tell their guests, "in lieu of a favor, we are making a donation."
"It's still something small they can give their guests to carry away from the event," said Halligan Kistle.
And naturally, the Lake Mohawk Country Club had a table, showing how they can make a bride's day her dream come true. The Lake Mohawk Country Club has a graceful old-world elegance in its historic building, situated on the Lake Mohawk Boardwalk. The boardwalk and lake, offer an ambiance and setting with which brides can celebrate their nuptials in grand style. The club offers a range of catering packages, with sit-down and buffet meal options, and rooms throughout the establishment to suit events of all sizes, including their well-known ballroom. The ballroom offers a picturesque view of the lake, and the surroundings themselves with the boardwalk, lake, beach, and sunken garden, affords the brides the opportunity to choose from a range of places for photographs to capture every moment of the special day.
Will Blochinger of Will Blochinger Photography was on location himself that day at the Lake Mohawk Country Club, surrounded by the stunning images of many of the brides and their guests he had photographed of their engagements, and at their wedding locations, during his career. Blochinger, who began and continues his career as a celebrity photographer, added brides to his repertoire several years ago. He shoots elegant and creative photos of brides and grooms on their special day, capturing them with the same level of intensity, style, and attractiveness, as the stars who have found their way into his lens. Blochinger has received rave reviews for his artistic eye, garnering awards from 2011 through 2013 from The Knot, for "Best of Weddings," and from WeddingWire's 2013 Bride's Choice Award, earning Blochinger five stars for his photography.
"This is one of the biggest shows of the year," Blochinger said. "There are really energetic brides looking for vendors for the day. They have one-stop shopping here for the best Sussex County has to offer."
The vendors that participated in the Ultimate Bridal Expo included: AAA Mid Atlantic, A Bridal, Acupuncture Center of NJ, Al Louis Music, Ann Marie Sciascia Photography, Anthony Ziccardi Studios, Bridal Beauty by Maryse, Cannon Gate Catering, Choice DJ's, Chrissy O Designs, Courtyard Marriott, Crystal Springs Resort, D. Becker Photo, Dessert & Design, Enelda's Happy Brides, Global Productions, Grammy's Chocolate and Fudge Parlor (with Flowers by Karen), Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, It Works!, The Lafayette House, Lake Mohawk Country Club, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Party King Entertainment, Petals Florist, Salon 360, Savvi Formalwear by Sarno & Son, Scully Travel, Sew 'N Sew Bridal and Tuxedo, St. Moritz Grill and Bar, Sussex County Florist (with D'Andrea's Jewelers), Valli Photographers, Wildflowers with Tami, and Will Blochinger Photography.
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