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If you go
What: 2014 Bridal Extravaganza
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday Where: Grand Wayne Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Admission: $10 in advance through www.fortwayne.com; at Fort Wayne Newspapers, 600 W. Main St., through Friday during business hours; or $12 at the door
Information: 461-8484 or www.fortwayne.com
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Kate Miller, owner of The Bride to Be, adjusts the shoulders of a wedding dress in a champagne shade, a new trend in bridal gowns.

Wedding vendors prep for expo

When it came to weddings in the good old days, “blush” referred to what the bride did as she approached the altar. “Champagne” was what was toasted at the reception, and “nude” was probably not uttered in polite matrimonially related company.

These days, those words might describe the colors the bride, her attendants and even her mother and mother-in-law-to-be might be wearing to the ceremony.

Dresses with a pastel pinkish or golden cast, seen on bridal designer runways for the past two or three years, are now becoming accepted as mainstream bridal attire – at least among brides who want a look that is both trendily up to date and elegantly timeless.

So says Kate Miller, co-owner of The Bride to Be in Fort Wayne, who is bringing gowns in such shades among the ones she will show during the 2014 Bridal Extravaganza Sunday at Grand Wayne Center. Her shop is one of two local bridal salons staging wedding fashion shows at the event at 1 and 3 p.m.

Miller says “the sunset palette” is going strong this year as an alternative to what used to be an exclusive realm of white or ivory bridal gowns.

“It’s also strongly trending in maids’ (attendants’) dresses and into moms’ as well,” she says. “We have a number of designers who sampled in those colors this year, a rose or blush kind of thing, due to demand from brides.”

Brides may have gotten the idea after seeing gowns in those shades featured on wedding fashion TV shows such as “Say Yes to the Dress” and “I Found the Gown,” Miller says. Designers’ websites and Pinterest boards also have been featuring them, and more brides are consulting those sites before going shopping, Miller says.

Another influence may be trends in accessories, she says, as more brides are wearing heirloom jewelry in yellow and rose gold, and they harmonize well with the trendy dress shades.

As for the extravaganza itself, it’s trending up in the number of exhibitors, says Henry Phillips, advertising director for Fort Wayne Newspapers, show sponsor and publisher of The Journal Gazette and News-Sentinel newspapers, Fort Wayne Monthly magazine and Fort Wayne Monthly’s Weddings.

Filling the exhibition hall will be about 150 vendors, up from 130 last year, he says.

Brides will find not only sellers of bridal fashion, but also those offering ceremony and reception venues, flowers, décor, catering, rehearsal dinners, post-wedding brunches, photography, limousine service, tuxedos, jewelry, music, dance lessons and honeymoon packages.

“You could come here with absolutely nothing booked, nothing planned, and you would have choices three to five deep in each of those areas,” Phillips says.

In its seventh year, the extravaganza expects 500 to 600 brides and 1,200 to 1,400 total attendees, including wedding parties, parents, other relatives and bridegrooms-to-be, he says.

All brides will receive a free wedding planning book, and brides arriving early also will get a free tote bag.

Attendees will have the chance to win prizes, including a $1,000 engagement ring, $1,000 in wedding photography, four tuxedo rentals worth $540, a $500 wedding cake, a $500 rehearsal dinner, $500 in flowers, $500 in disc jockey service and $500 toward a bachelor/bachelorette party.

Décor will feature entrances from three vintage eras and there will be dance demonstrations in the lobby as doors open and onstage between fashion shows.

Autumn Parton, owner of One Fine Day in Fort Wayne, also a bridal fashion show vendor, says she’s had several area brides buy dresses in blush shades.

But she’s offering a nod to another gown trend.

“We’ll be showing fewer strapless versions,” she says, noting that brides and designers aren’t as sweet on sweetheart necklines as in years past.

“We’re looking at much more modest silhouettes,” she says, adding that more dresses are featuring sheer fabric covering at least part of the shoulders in what’s called an illusion neckline. Sleeveless styles and Queen Anne or keyhole necklines and cap sleeves in lace are making a comeback.

“We’re also seeing a trend back to … softer dresses with ballgown styles and (skirts of) organza and tulle,” Parton says, adding that brides seem to like the lightness of the dresses and the way they move.

She plans to have an example, an Amsale design named Erie, walk the runway at the show. The dress has a ballgown shape with a sweetheart neckline topped by sheer fabric in an illusion treatment. The gown’s full skirt is tulle and covered with subtle sparkles.

That’s another trend, the two shop owners say – the outrageous bling of a few seasons ago is not so much in evidence. Miller says more delicate embellishment is partly a result of restrained styles in PBS’s “Downton Abbey” being translated into bridal fashion.

Whatever the influence, Parton says she’s thrilled to see a return to soft, pretty, romantic dresses like Erie.

“She’s insanely gorgeous,” she says of the dress. “It’s my favorite dress in the store right now. I can’t wait to show her.”

rsalter@jg.net

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