EFFINGHAM — Brides-to-be flocked to Thelma Keller Convention Center Sunday for the 30th annual Bridal Expo.
Sarah Thoele traveled to the expo from Shelbyville with husband-to-be Daniel Vogel of Strasburg. Thoele and Vogel are planning a November wedding in Teutopolis.
“We are looking for music and a photographer,” Thoele said. “There are a lot of options here.”
“Getting a lot of information is nice,” Thoele said.
Her future husband also had his own opinion about the event.
“I like the food samples,” Vogel said. “Those are nice.”
Thelma Keller Convention Center Director Patty Greene said the Bridal Expo and Home Show are two of the largest expos hosted by the convention center.
“Today we have over 75 booths,” Greene said. “We have several vendors from DJs, photographers, florists, wedding venues, caterers to bridal shops.”
“The first year we did this we only had 25 booths,” Greene said. “We are now at 75 and sold out.”
Greene, who has been associated with the convention center for 32 years, started the Bridal Expo show because she was getting married in her hometown of Springfield.
“I thought I could do this for sure here in Effingham,” Greene said. “We usually get 1,500 people coming through during this event and 400 actual brides coming in looking for ideas.”
Greene said brides preregistered this year came from Champaign, Springfield, Mt. Vernon, Mattoon and Bloomington.
“It’s not just pinpointed to the brides,” Greene said. “Anyone wanting to put on any type of event like a family reunion, class reunion, wedding rehearsals or needs a promotional item for work can find it right here.”
“There is something for everyone here,” Greene added. “The one part I like to brag about the most is it is a one-stop shop under one roof for just about anything you would want.”
Greene said outdoor destination weddings seem to be popular this year. She said she also sees a changing dynamic in waiting periods before marriage.
“We are noticing people are getting married quicker with shorter engagements,” Greene said. “They are getting married within six, seven or eight months, where it used to be two years.”
Greene has noticed another change.
“It seems like the summer weddings aren’t as popular as the fall weddings,” Greene said. “Couples want to be married in the fall weather.”
Bryant Furry and his bride-to-be, Micah Seibert, came to the expo from Charleston. They plan to get married on Sept. 19. Sunday was their first visit to the expo.
“This gets us into the excitement of wedding planning and makes us eager for that big day,” Seibert said.
“This really puts everything into perspective of how much there is to do,” Furry said.
Furry and Seibert are planning an indoor wedding.
“Today we are looking for food and transportation,” Furry said.
“This event helps us see what loose ends we need to tie up,” Seibert said. “When you go into planning the wedding, you think you know what you are doing and then you see all of this and think oh my goodness what am I doing.”
“There’s so much more we need to do,” Seibert added.
Colin Frank and his bride-to-be, Jayna Youngman, traveled to Effingham from Highland ahead of their wedding date in June.
“We are looking for catering and a possible photo booth,” Youngman said. “A photo booth would be fun.”
“There are some things here you don’t think of that would make a great addition to your wedding,” Youngman said.
Ashley Wendt and Tanner Veach, both of Dieterich, are planning a May wedding this year.
“I am amazed by how many vendors are here,” Wendt said.
“There is a lot of information here,” Veach said.
Wendt and Veach were specific about what they were looking for Sunday.
“The honeymoon,” Veach said.
“And the food,” Wendt added.