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Bridal festival offers tips for the budget-conscious

Models show off bridal gowns at the Premier Bridal Festival in Spokane on Saturday at the Spokane Convention Center. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Models show off bridal gowns at the Premier Bridal Festival in Spokane on Saturday at the Spokane Convention Center. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Since he popped the question Christmas Eve, reality has probably started to set in.

Many brides dream of the perfect wedding, but they may have to be creative when it comes to paying for it.

At the Northwest’s Premier Bridal Festival this weekend at the Spokane Convention Center, many vendors offer ideas for chopping down what can be a hefty price tag.

Tammy Schneider, who has been presenting the festival for more than 25 years, said she’s noticed vendors scaling back their prices in recent years to make weddings more affordable in challenging economic times.

“Brides are still getting married,” she said, and they still want what they want. Business owners in the wedding market understand that.

“Everyone wants a little piece of the cake in the wedding market,” Schneider said.

According to weddingstats.org, which gathers statistics from across the nation, the average wedding in the United States can run between $26,000 and $27,000. That factors in places like Manhattan, which has an average wedding price tag of $70,000.

Spokane County weddings, according to theweddingreport.com, average about $26,080.

A few of the essentials found at the bridal festival:

Venue: At Gretna Green in north Spokane, owners Roger and Bridget Costello offer wedding packages with food, a DJ and photography, along with the chapel and reception hall. Packages run from $3,695 down to $495 for just the ceremony.

“We’ll do anything for people,” Roger Costello said.

Photos: Bill Adams, photographer and owner of Northwest Images, has been in business for more than 30 years and recently reduced his prices. He said it’s manageable for him with the advent of digital photography – his equipment can be more expensive, but he doesn’t have to maintain a darkroom to develop his photographs.

“I think that brides have always been frugal,” Adams said.

Cake: Stephanie Lentz, of Marsell’s Cakes and Desserts bakery near downtown Spokane, said many brides are choosing smaller cakes for the couple and the wedding party, with less-expensive sheet cakes for their guests.

“You can’t really have a wedding without one,” Lentz said.

Angela DeVleming, a cake decorator at Albertsons, said many brides are choosing cupcakes because they are trendy and more affordable. Cupcakes help avoid fees to serve the cake, sometimes up to $2 a plate.

GOWN: The perfect bridal gown can be a large chunk of the wedding budget. Weddingstats.com says the average bride spends around $1,000.

Earlene Clifton, owner of Celestial Selections in Spokane Valley, said parents of brides often don’t want them to sacrifice when it comes to this item.

“They only get to do this once,” Clifton said.

Clifton’s bridal consultant, Leah Shore, said shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” have helped their business, since the dress prices on shows like that are so much higher than the gowns in their store. They also have an outlet store which sells sample dresses in good condition for only $99.

Show attendee Celestina Leos, 25, is busy planning her wedding and hopes to keep the costs low.

“I’m doing it in my backyard,” she said. Her aunt is making her cake, and Leos is buying flowers in bulk that her friend will arrange. Another friend of hers is also getting married, so they are sharing decorations.

But the primary strategy Leos has for not putting herself and her fiancé, Josh Demers, in debt after their wedding is a long engagement.

Her wedding isn’t until August 2014, so she can spread out the payments.



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