With Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other big band musicians crooning in the background, hundreds of brides-to-be explored Wedding Wonderland on Sunday with their family and friends.
The 31st annual bridal show, organized by Cumulus Media and held at the York Expo Center, featured more than 100 vendors and a fashion show.
The stage and lighting were upgraded this year to enhance the fashion show, said Bob Adams, vice president and manager of marketing for Cumulus Media. The show included tuxedos and menswear from Formal Affairs, and bridal attire from Renaissance Bridals.
Instead of offering pre-selected door prizes, new this year was the chance to win $6,000 to use at any of the show's participating vendors, said Adams.
"That way brides can use it any way they want to," said Adams. "I think that was one of the biggest draws this year."
More than 500 brides pre-registered for the show, but walk-ins were welcome, and Adams estimated more than 700 people attended.
Planning ahead: Ashley Wagaman, 20, of West Manchester Township, attended the show with her mother, Roxann Berger.
Ideas and food samples were the highlight for both mother and daughter.
Wagaman said she got ideas for cake flavors and other aspects of her wedding, which will not be until 2015.
Time management and not being rushed is one way brides can save money, said Wagaman.
Berger said she isn't
nervous about costs because her daughter is planning so far in advance.
"I need to stay relaxed; otherwise I'll stress her out," said Berger.
The television show "Say Yes to the Dress" has given Wagaman inspiration for her gown.
The reality TV factor: Reality television shows have also been a godsend for those in the wedding industry.
"Reality TV has made our lives a lot easier," said Tina Rudisill, owner of Event Works, one of the vendors at Wedding Wonderland.
Thanks to reality wedding shows and celebrity weddings, people in southcentral Pennsylvania have developed a better understanding of what a wedding can be, said Rudisill.
Event Works is a wedding event production company that plans and coordinates weddings from start to finish.
"It's like creating a Hollywood production," Rudisill said. "You don't have to work with 17 different vendors, you can just work with one production company."
Rudisill had a stand at the show with Jamie Berger of C&J Catering, showcasing the season's hottest wedding trends.
Food can be simple but served in an upscale way to add to whatever feel a bride wants her wedding to have, said Berger.
"We make it seamless," said Berger. "We involve (brides) in the fun parts and take care of the stress."
Comparison shopping: Holly Harsanyi and Valerie Smith, friends from York Township who are both planning weddings this year, went to the show for ideas.
"It's nice that we have all the vendors here in one place so we could comparison shop," said Smith, 28, who is planning a destination wedding.
Harsanyi is planning to have her wedding in York at Heritage Hills.
She advised brides to physically tour the venues they are considering, and not just base their decision off pictures online.
To save money, do as much as you can by yourself, said Harsanyi, who plans to create her own flower bouquets.
Amanda Urey, 26, of Red Lion, chose vendors for her wedding who are friends of friends, to cut back on costs.
"A lot of my vendors are not technically professional, but they do just as good of a job," Urey said.
Urey said areas to avoid going cheap are the DJ and photographer.
Her friend Kara Warner of York Township said she plans to save when she purchases her gown.
"I can't stand when girls pay thousands of dollars for a dress you wear for one day," said Warner.
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org