31st Annual Bridal Extravaganza Show
Jan 10 & 11
George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Each January, the George R. Brown Convention Center becomes a magnet for every bride, groom, and unfortunate third party in all of Houstonia. This weekend, thousands of them will flock downtown to secure the best deals, win prizes, and check as many items as they can off the wedding to-do list. That's right, folks—it's time for the 31st Annual Bridal Extravaganza Show, advertised as the largest such show in the country.
Despite the event's storied history in the Bayou City, its name prompts a question: What about the groom? Sure, just about every ingredient that goes into the modern American wedding will be on full display this weekend. Fancy (read: expensive) wedding dresses displayed by attractive models? Check. Decadent (read: expensive) wedding cakes created by the nation's top culinary minds? You betcha! And what do the grooms get? A few lousy tuxedo outlets.
Sounds like a letdown, doesn't it? That's what I thought when I attended the Bridal Extravaganza in 2006. The words “bride” and “bridal” preceded and followed every other bit of copy in the cavernous convention hall. It was like being around family members who keep referring to the wedding day as “her day.” Nearly a decade later, the show sticks to this gimmick: “Everyone is welcome! Bring your bridal party and the groom!” The groom is clearly an afterthought, tacked on at the end out of politeness.
Yes, we get it. The “her day” model of marriage dictates that the groom should never express interest in the details. Instead, he should simply drag his knuckles, drink a beer or two, and ogle his bride-to-be. As a lanky white kid from Pasadena, I don’t really fit this stereotype. Besides, I actually was interested in the details of what would, after all, also be “my day."
So when I recently saw a billboard advertising this year's show, a question immediately popped into my head. What would a Groom Extravaganza Show look like? If we stick with the standard model, the answers would include (but not be limited to) tuxedo fittings, alcohol, a few gag gifts, and options for the bachelor party.
But wait: we’re talking about a Groom Extravaganza Show, not Bachelor Party Show or Stag Weekend Show. What would such a show, offering an equivalent number of products and services as the Bridal Extravaganza, look like? What would a commercial free-for-all targeting the other half of the marriage equation offer, and how would it encourage the brides to tag along?
Having been a groom myself, I feel qualified to offer some suggestions—a few ideas to help ostracized grooms find a sure footing during the upcoming wedding season. With a bit of luck, next year’s Bridal Extravaganza will be sharing the George R. Brown Convention Center with the First Annual Groom Extravaganza Show
Below, some key points about my ideal groom’s show.
The bride spends a lot of time on her feet on her wedding day, but so does the groom. Whether he paces the halls alone, waits on friends and family members, or follows his bride from stop to stop, he never really gets a chance to sit down. So a good groom's show should offer a wide variety of shoe vendors. Nice dress shoes, boots, sandals – it’s your call. Just make sure you get something comfortable: a good pair that will last the entire day, supporting your excellent posture (feigned) for photo ops while protecting your feet from welts, blisters, and bruises.
The clothing retailers should be located right next to the shoe vendors. Everyone emphasizes fancy, expensive clothing for the big day, but again I stress comfort. Whatever you decide to wear, you’re going to be wearing it for a very long day. So if you don’t want to feel scratched to death by a wool coat, then make sure to get a suit that’s good for the wedding and for you.
Brides and bridesmaids turn hairstyling and makeup into an hours-long affair the morning of the wedding. Grooms and groomsmen, on the other hand, usually don't. So besides shoes and suits, the show should offer space for male-focused stylists and barbers. There can even be pop-up shops complete with barber chairs where you can discuss everything from haircuts to beard wax with the on-site stylists. Go ahead and get a fancy shave—you’re worth it. After all, this is your day.