The Bridal Expo Adventure: We Laughed, We Played Bridal Bingo, We Tasted Terrible Cake

Pastry, my mom, and I went to a massive Bridal Expo at the downtown convention center. And, it was gloriously fun for all the wrong reasons.

The first adventure in the bridal convention was purchasing and printing tickets. A venue we have been considering had a link for two-for-one tickets for the reasonable price of $12. So, I decided that would be a great option as Pastry AND my amazingly snarky mom could also attend for the festive people watching and cake tasting. I bought a duo of tickets planning to purchase one at the door and went to print them out. 100 pieces of paper later, I had, well, 100 different bridal expo tickets laying on the floor of my office. They all had different bar codes, so I freaked out in case I had accidently charged my debit account $600 in Bridal Expo tickets. But, nope, only a $12 charge on my card for a mere 100 tickets! Deal of the century!

“Bwhahahahaha…,” said the paper-eating printer, “I shall print Bridal Expo tickets till the END OF TIME.”

On our way there, my mom was sitting in the backseat of my car, imparting wedding advice. The snark runs deep in our family.

My mom on us planning a fairly non-traditional wedding and what would make both families uncomfortable: “You know, I think you should draw the line at animal sacrifice. I mean, if you sacrifice a chicken at the ceremony, you will lose a few people.”

My mom on reception activities: “Have you two considered those giant hamster balls for people? That would be fun!”

My mom on her possible wedding attire: “Maybe a giant quinceanera dress! Those are so great…” (She really does love them.)

Upon arriving at the expo with our 937 printed tickets, the attendant checking people in handed us nametags, your choices being “guest,” “bride,” or “groom,” mixing ours up so I ended up with the groom tag. Previous to our arrival, Pastry and I put together basically a list of Bridal Bingo, things we were expecting to see at the show. Points were awarded for the following categories:

  • Wearing a veil with regular clothing
  • Wearing a tiara with regular clothing
  • Wearing a veil AND a tiara
  • Rhinestone shirt with reference to bride in any way
  • Reference to “her special day”
  • Reference to “fairytale” or “happily ever after”
  • Crying in public
  • Debates over color names, g. white, ecru, cream, champagne, etc.
  • Coordinated bridal party outfits
  • Coordinated bride and groom outfits


The Bridal Expo Bingo card for your enjoyment.

Perhaps my favorite siting of all of the above, was this classy groom along with his fiancé, perusing a floral booth. I stalked him down for this picture, slightly terrified he would figure out what I was doing and go all Sons of Anarchy on me.


You can almost feel the romance waft off of him…

Otherwise, it was a very full convention center full of an exceedingly diverse group of people. The gender split was not as female-heavy as I thought it would be, and the grooms in attendance seemed happily amused participants. We did see one groom in a pure white three-piece suit with a bright blue tie and matching blue shoes. He definitely won most overdressed. There were giant parties of bridesmaids in customized matching shirts and a pair of exceptionally preppy couples wearing matching orange outfits. I fell in love with a crazy expensive bouquet of succulents, pheasant feathers, sunflowers, herbs, and other weird things. Pastry and I kept remarking that a bunch of the couples looked like they were 12.

We went to pretty much every photo booth option possible, and tasted enough cake to henceforth decide NO CAKE at our wedding as we are serious about wedding pie. A drunken DJ who smelled so strongly of rum I thought I would get drunk standing next to him, enthusiastically introduced us to all his vendor friends throughout the fair. Another high point was an outlet mall weirdly promoting themselves with half-naked men in suspenders with a bunch of semi-horrified ladies milling about them. So, Pastry stepped right up, introduced himself, and took an amazing picture with the stripper-esque men to the vast amusement of the entire crowd.

And, then we found my mom some brightly colored quinceanera dresses in the wedding dress section, and it made her day.

We had crossed most of our items off the list by the time we left (after searching for an exit for 20 minutes) except the “crying” item. Lo, on our way back to the car, we happened upon a girl walking down the street crying with her boyfriend. She didn’t have a veil on, but I maintained it counted.


The next morning my mom emailed me a link to a coupon for a discounted human-sized Hamster Ball Experience with the note, “Don’t say I didn’t help with creative wedding ideas.”


The Venue Search: “It’s Perfect…Pity That We Will Have to Sell Our Future Unborn Children for an Open Bar”

Yesterday our parents met for the first time. Nothing quite like coffee, eggs, and growing up semi-wild in the country stories whilst in a gorgeous locale to bring together parental units from as far across a political divide as possible. Whilst eating breakfast enchiladas under an old pecan tree as everyone else regaled with stories of “…and, then the hornet nest broke apart” or “surprise scorpions are the worst,” I was struck by how this improbable hodgepodge of people were my family. And, I was very, very happy. And, how as a group, we would be superior at apparently fending off assorted bugs and arthropods.

I googled “scorpion wearing a tiny hat.” This hat with a not so tiny scorpion is a second best option. Possible rehearsal dinner headwear? Also, unfulfilled niche for tiny scorpion hats out there. Just sayin’.

The parental unit breakfast location was also a possible venue choice being as it is a working organic farm featuring numerous restaurants and outdoor locations perfect for parties. It’s wonderful. And, by wonderful, I mean one of my favorite places to which I have ever been on this whole earth. But, as we live someplace that tends to extreme weather, sudden monsoons, lightning storms, pop-up dust storms which make the sky red, heat so hot you might as well melt and die, those pesky “surprise scorpions”, the gamble on the one day a year or so from now having perfect weather is a gamble we are not willing to take. Plus, there is the opportunity to step in duck poop at said locale, and duck poop is gross.

The only instance of semi-cute duck poop.

Next onward to an expensive locale perched on the side of a mountain! Pastry and I have moved on to sharing one brain so as we were driving downtown I was thinking, “Hey, maybe we should go look at…” as he turned the corner to head up the hill to said venue. We also them remarked at the exact same time about the perfect penis shaped cactus near the welcome sign. Same brain sometimes. (Other times, like when inquiring about why there is a trowel, car polisher disc, decrepit fish tank filter, and a zombie card game all sitting on the same object in our garage, not so much.) This swanky venue mostly just stirred within us massive pool envy and a discussion about the blandness of hotel ballrooms. We took a selfie (alas not with the cactus), planned a theoretical staycation, and left for the next option a bit sweaty and hot from tromping up the hill in a desert summer.

There are some really bizarre stock photos of women and cacti. Should you want to go down this dark hole of the internet, please make sure to turn on Safe Search. Fair warning.

Next venue on the docket was the botanical gardens, the scene of our second date. Circa 16 months ago, Pastry and I met up at the gardens to watch the sunset and tour an artist installation in the dark. He brought a portable chess set which we never played as we spent most of our time sitting next to a fountain in those canvas butterfly chairs which are inevitably difficult from which to extract yourself with much grace. We went out for beers and burritos later after which we had the most awkward first kiss ever.

Great date, great venue. Our first venue stop at the gardens was an open air pavilion with rustic lanterns surrounded by desert wildflowers. As I’m a classical musician and a good portion of wedding guests are also musicians (who may be performing), acoustics of the venue are pretty important. Now, I am not a singer who is anxious to prove I can sing, warbling at any opportunity in a resonant space, so singing in public at the drop of a hat is not quite my thing (this policy really depends on the amount of liquor imbibed though). But, I sang.  Specifically a French piece about watching the sun set over the fields at the end of a very good day. And, it was wonderful and magical as we stood in the center together. And, then a bunch of tropical shirt wearing tourists from Portland rolled up to ask about the singing and grill us about wedding plans as I had apparently attracted a crowd on the other side of the wall of flowers.

Without going into great detail, we looked at several other venue options at the gardens. It is all amazingly beautiful and very us. Essentially, it is a great fit and all of it made my heart race in anticipation.

 And, then we looked at the alcohol pricing.

This look is what our future unborn child will look like when they find out that we had to sell them to the highest bidder in order to pay for the open bar at our wedding.

We could put a downpayment on a (very small) house (okay, maybe more like a fancy shed) with the amount of money it would cost to have an open bar. Ruling out the future profit of selling our unborn child in order to pay for just the bar, here are some other things we could buy instead of paying for an open bar with well drinks (premium liquor prices are not even considering) at the botanic gardens:

Around 8 to 10 years of seeing this cute, giant rodent face or well drinks for 115 people? Tough call.

So, we worked on our Weighted Decision Matrix of Nuptial Planning. The gardens are still in the running, but have taken a significant numerical hit in the “Booze Options” criteria rating. Besides, maybe we really need 294 pounds of crab legs and/or 454 containers of clarified butter instead.