I'm not even getting married and I'm totally pumped about the "30th Bi-Annual Bridal Extravaganza" taking place this weekend at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Mostly because the word "extravaganza" isn't a word that people throw around lightly, so when its dropped into a sentence—or better yet in the title of a bi-annual event!—whatever is happening is a probably a REALLY big deal and will almost certainly include balloons falling from the ceiling or, like, strobe lights and confetti, maybe even a stretch hummer if you're lucky.
I was so excited about this weekend's event that I took the luxury of combing through all 400 vendors to pick out a few highlights. What I discovered is that if marriage is a life-long journey between you and your spouse, then the Bridal Extravaganza is a weirdly intense day trip ... that you'll go on with 15,000 other people from around the greater Houston metroplex. Romantic, right? Take my hand. I am your bridal sherpa:
1. First up, stop by Rent Some Vintage: This local company specializes in vintage rental furniture, a popular prop in weddings around town, according to Bridal Extravaganza producer, Laurette Veres. "The trend is vintage vignettes," she says. "You can rent old windows and tables and old mason jars to create a drink station or a sign-in area for your guests. Their furniture is beautiful. You can get creative."
2. Next, check out Digital Memories Photobooths: If you've been to a big party in the last few years, you've probably seen those goofy (and in my opinion, annoying) photobooths at parties. Here's how they work: groups of self-conscious people gather around them to try on props and, you know, "get crazy" in that very restrained and half-hearted way that makes everyone hyper-conscious of their impression management skills, leaving an entire cohort of functional adults mildly depressed and wistful about that fleeting period in their youth when they actually could let loose. Well, DMP offers that. But they also offer a new concept that is far better in my opinion, and my opinion was recently influenced by being inside a real-life wedding photobooth as evidenced here. Using either Instagram, or Twitter, guests can take photos with their smartphones and a #Hashtag specific to their event. Using their "Social Media Kiosk," DMP pulls those photos from the Cloud and prints them out on the spot. It's smart, and it doesn't involve forcing your uptight father to don a scarf, a monocle, and some forced enthusiasm to make it seem like you actually enjoying being genetically bound to one another in front of family and friends.
3. While you're here, don't miss the fashion shows: Are bridal fashion shows rare? I'm gonna be honest–I have no idea. I've never heard of one, which means nothing because I'm a 30-year-old bachelor and all wedding dresses look the same to me. Fortunately, there will be 13 formal fashion shows and a number of smaller ones over the weekend, which basically amounts to one fashion show per hour of extravaganza.
4. Don't forget to look for Vintage Brooch Bouquets by Emily Clair: Using vintage jewelry, Clair, a professional florist, creates custom bouquets, often using family heirlooms. Maybe it's your style, maybe not. The work that goes into each one looks painstaking.
5. Most importantly, go see the pole dancers at Revolve Pole Studio: Spice up your bachelorette party, and maybe even your marriage, by signing up for a class at the Pole Dance Academy. Start with beginner classes and move all the way to advanced classes, a.k.a, the "Pole Ph.D." Hire the staff for a private party, rent out the studio or sign up for one-time classes with names like "Booty Wurk" and "Floorotica." How many more reasons could you need?