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Preparing for the big day

Sun., Jan. 7, 2007

Nicole Balzer spent Saturday afternoon considering variations on the garden wedding.

When she is married in July, she doesn’t want it to be a “typical, hokey garden wedding,” she said. She and her mother, Nancy, spent some time at the Bridal Festival on Saturday looking for ways to avoid the hokey.

“You could spend millions of dollars,” Nancy Balzer said. “That’s the bottom line.”

And that’s probably only a slight overstatement. The 28th annual Bridal Festival, which continues today until 4 at the Spokane Convention Center, included scores of vendors offering everything from tuxes and gowns to stretch Humvees and “The Traveling Luxury Loo.”

“Brides really can find anything and everything they need,” said Tammy Schneider, the event’s producer.

More than 170 vendors were part of the festival, and models walked a runway, showing off the latest in fashions for brides, grooms and members of the wedding party. Five couples are competing in a two-day “Nearly-To-Be-Wed Game” based on “The Newlywed Game,” with the winners receiving a $20,000 wedding package.

Some couples found the day daunting – considering everything to be decided and paid for between now and the big day. A lot of that pressure was, stereotypically, falling more heavily on brides than grooms.

“I’m not overwhelmed,” said Justin Copeland, of Spokane, who was looking at the vendors’ booths with his bride-to-be, Alisha Frelich. “I’m sure she is.”

Frelich concurred. “I’m a stress freak,” she said.

The two are looking ahead to an August wedding in the Seattle area, and they just began planning discussions over the Christmas holiday.

Frelich said she’s trying to decide which elements of the wedding are the most important to her so they can keep the affair under budget.

“The cost is very scary,” she said. “The idea is you do it once – at least most people do – but can you really spend 40 grand for one day?

“The most important thing is that he’s standing at the altar.”


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