The Spokane Convention Center was buzzing Sunday as five brides donned hard hats and attacked a white wedding cake in search of a hidden diamond.
Paige Alloway emerged victorious and threw her hand up in the air to show off the giant fake diamond.
The real prize came moments later, after the remnants of the cake had been cleared away: Alloway won a $2,500 ring from Clark’s Diamond Jewelers.
“Diving for Diamonds” was just one of many giveaways at the Bridal Festival, hosted by Tammy Schneider Events, on Saturday and Sunday.
Schneider has been putting on the Bridal Festival for more than 30 years. It started in Coeur d’Alene, but has been at the Spokane Convention Center for many years.
While Alloway has an engagement ring from her golf course proposal in October, she was thrilled to win the extra bling.
“It kind of was just fate, I guess,” she said.
Alloway called her fiancé, Trevor Smith, ahead of the cake dive, and he was excited for her.
“He’s going to be very shocked when I call him and tell him I won,” she said. “I never win anything.”
Winning was a common theme at the festival, with giveaways throughout the weekend, something founder Schneider and her daughter, Tiffany Teal, worked hard to pull off.
The pair puts on two bridal festivals a year, one in September and this larger event in January.
“It’s really because most of the engagements happen over Christmas and the holidays,” Schneider said.
Teal teaches third grade full-time in Spokane, but works on the festival in the summer and on weekends, bringing the lengthy list of vendors together.
“I’m planning all year, pretty much,” she said.
The festival drew about 1,500 people on Saturday and was busy Sunday.
While Teal coordinates all the vendors, Schneider coordinates the three fashion shows throughout the weekend.
“It is over the top,” she said. “The opening scene, it’s just – you’ll just be shocked.”
The fashion show, set to upbeat music, featured dresses, tuxedos and gowns from local retailers. Chris Anderson choreographed the show and danced down the catwalk.
After decades of putting on the festival, Schneider still loves to put together the fashion show each year.
Many of the vendors look forward to putting their booths together as well.
Bob Adolfson, owner of Red Rock Catering, has been a vendor at the past 32 shows.
Red Rock Catering does all of the events at well-known Spokane venues, including the Glover Mansion, Chateau Rive, and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
The company has been in business since 2004 and never missed a Tammy Schneider show, Adolfson said.
“It’s the only bridal show in town,” he said. “There’s really nowhere else to be.”
Adolfson said most people book a venue 10 months to a year in advance, but Red Rock is unique because it will take bookings as far in advance as someone wants.
With five venues to provide with meals, Adolfson employs four event planners to help coordinate weddings.
“We enjoy it. About one in 10 weddings can be a little problematic for one reason or another,” he said. “But seriously, say nine of out 10, everybody works together. It’s not like on TV.”
For Brooke Haws, a 21-year-old barista, the festival was a chance to get a feel for what she likes from vendors.
“It’s really overwhelming, but it’s exciting at the same time,” Haws said.
Haws got engaged last year after seven years with her high school sweetheart.
Haws attended the event with her mother, Michelle Demoss, who saved her wedding dress in hopes that her daughter might wear it one day.
The pair was able to discuss the idea with multiple bridal shops to see what options they had with the family heirloom.
“All the people here are very helpful and open to answering questions,” Demoss said.
The event made both women “more excited” to officially start planning Haws’ special day.
The bridal festival wasn’t just for brides, but grooms-to-be as well.
Enya Smith went to the festival Saturday but returned Sunday with her fiancé, Zachary Cohen.
The pair is planning a Gothic October wedding to celebrate not only their love for each other but also their love for Halloween.
After getting engaged last October, the couple recently began the planning process and are excited to do it together.
“It’s not just her day,” Cohen said.
“It’s about what we like as a couple,” Smith added.
Smith is considering a black-and-white lace dress to fit their Gothic theme.
Another couple, Kenia Stokes and Corey Weyant, got engaged just a few weeks ago on Christmas.
Weyant managed to keep the engagement a surprise and left Stokes in shock.
“I cried a lot. It was bad,” Stokes said. “I was a blubbering mess.”
While they won’t officially start wedding planning for a few months, attending the festival was a chance to get a head start.
Stokes was excited to see what venues Spokane has to offer and take a peek at local bridal boutiques. Weyant had his eye on the food.
“She said free samples,” he joked. “They’ve been excellent.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.