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PLANNING a wedding? Bridal shows are a good place to start, and one is coming up this Sunday in Fredericksburg.
And, even better, Virginia brides who attend will have a chance to win an "ultimate wedding giveaway," compliments of 20 of the local vendors taking part.
The Inn at the Olde Silk Mill, 1707 Princess Anne St., is hosting "Save the Date: The Downtown Fredericksburg Local Bridal Show" from 1 to 5 p.m. It will feature about 70 area vendors, a runway show, door prizes and the giveaway. The latter includes everything from a wedding planner to a night in the inn's honeymoon suite to a "Trash the Dress" post-wedding photo shoot.
"Over 250 brides have registered so far," said Anna Sanborn, manager/wedding event coordinator.
Sunday's event is the second bridal show that the inn has organized this year. The first was held in February and drew about 350 people. The inn also was involved in a progressive bridal show last year that was organized by Historic Inns of Fredericksburg, and has held several smaller shows.
The point of all these events is to show off what Fredericksburg--and the inn--has to offer brides, Sanborn said.
With its grand staircase and Victorian parlor, The Inn at the Olde Silk Mill is a popular spot for small weddings, as is its new courtyard. Brides often rent all
Owner Ed Whelan III, who previously owned Stafford Construction, recently renovated 7,000 square feet of the mill into an intimate bar and lounge area and a wide-open space that can accommodate 100 to 300 people for weddings, receptions and other special events. Landscaping is expected to be completed in October.
"It's starting to get popular," said Sanborn, who has booked the old mill for weddings, Brooke Point High School's prom and Home Depot's Christmas party.
Working with such customers has helped her develop contacts with other businesses, such as FOODE, which she's recommended as a caterer, and Kenmore Inn, which she's suggested as a place to hold rehearsal dinners and book rooms for parents.
Sanborn has used those contacts to line up vendors for the bridal show and the giveaway. Many are repeats from the show the inn held in February because it helped their businesses, she said. For example, photographers Sarah and Drew Kittredge, who own Kitt Creative at 810 Caroline St., booked nine weddings as a result of the show.
"I don't think that was the norm, but [Sarah] had a really great display," Sanborn said.
Vendors who take part in the show have to pay for booths, but those who donate to the giveaway get that fee cut in half and are mentioned on the inn's site, innattheoldesilkmill.com. They'll also be introduced before the winner is announced.
Besides FOODE and Kenmore Inn, those taking part in the giveaway include Darian and Dechele Events, a Fredericksburg wedding event planning business; Cakes by Z; The Finishing Touch Florist; and several photographers and a videographer.
A number of the vendors, including the inn, are members of a new networking group called Fredericksburg Wedding Pros. It meets monthly at different wedding venues, such as Potomac Point Winery and Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast, both of which are in Stafford County.
"We would like Fredericksburg to be a wedding destination," Sanford said. "That's our goal.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407