About 1,000 people and 350 active brides are expected to attend the Hitched Wedding & Events Affair at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courteney today. The event runs until 4 p.m. Photo, Mike Chouinard.

VIDEO: Hitched wedding event on now at Courtenay’s Filberg Centre

Organizers expect 1,000 visitors and 350 active brides

Sunday was the day to get “Hitched.” Black Press Media again held its annual wedding and event fair for central and north Vancouver Island.

The event, held at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay, started at 11 a.m. and runs through the afternoon. About 45 vendors were showing what they have to offer couples planning to tie the knot.

“Last year was our inaugural event and we had 1,000,” says Chrissie Bowker, Director of Development for Black Press Media.

Organizers were again expecting about 1,000 people at the event, with about 350 active brides among them.

There were vendors on both floors of the Filberg Centre to cover everyone’s wedding needs: photography, wine and cocktails, jewelry, cosmetics, entertainment, flowers, accommodations and just about everything you need for the big day. Many of the vendors were there to help people plan corporate events as well.

With some vendors filling their booking calendars up early, Bowker emphasizes the importance of getting the jump on planning for weddings.

“People are planning their weddings sometimes two years in advance,” she says.

Often, couples really want to have their wedding at a specific time, which again underscores the need to plan ahead.

“Most people have a date in their minds,” Bowker says. “It means something special to them.”

Visitors to Hitched also had a chance to win a pre-honeymoon getaway. They had to visit all the exhibitors at the event and answer questions for a “passport” to have a chance to win.

There was live music on both floors and plenty to keep people busy well into the afternoon.

Multiple vendors to help new couples with choices

Getting married means many decisions, beyond the big day, which is why Hitched provides a range of vendors. One of the major sponsors of Hitched, Comox Valley Real Estate, was on hand at the event to greet visitors and let them know how they can help new couples.

“We came on last year as sponsor,” says Nicole Minions, realtor with Comox Valley Real Estate Group. “We serve a lot of different families.”

She emphasizes the importance for new couples to think about where they are going to live once they are married.

“Real estate is one service that comes into play when getting married,” Minions says.

The team of Carla Arnold, Andrena Koch-Schulte and Minions can take a more hands-on approach when working with new couples to help them negotiate all of the steps for that first home. Their work covers specifics such as down payments, credit or anything else that can arise when making a purchase.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we’re kind of a consulting service,” Minion says.

A passport to ‘pre-honeymoon’

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort and Conference Centre is also a major sponsor and offered a two-night spa retreat for the “passport” contest winners where the winning couple can come, relax and enjoy the 22 acres of Tigh-Na-Mara.

“Guests have the option to tailor their stay,” says Rozlan Thompson, Wedding and Event Manager.

Visitors to Hitched qualified for the getaway by filling in answers to questions by visiting each of the participating vendors. The questions were all designed around what goods or services the vendors offer to couples planning a wedding.

Thompson stresses Tigh-Na-Mara can accommodate a range of wedding events, from small, intimate ceremonies to ones with 250 of a couple’s closest friends.

“We can be really flexible with what we offer,” she says.

A wedding-themed wedding show

Chrissie Bowker of Black Press Media worked with Wedding & Event Design by Christina Leaman to put together the look of the event inside the Filberg Centre. The idea was to give Hitched the feel of a wedding through decor, lighting and other design elements.

“I love picking out decor,” says Leaman.

She combined the wedding motifs with a little nod here and there to business events, which she also plans – for example, the martini glass centrepieces on the tables inside the hall.

Leaman says she tries to personalize the events she organizes, which in the case of weddings means trying to capture the couple’s personalities by tailor-making the ceremony and celebration. The key, she adds, is for people to think about what they want from the experience.

“You’ve just got to focus, and I’m here to help,” she says. “My real goal is to know the client.”

Vendor and client

Kelly Coish works at Flight Centre as Assistant Manager and helps arrange destination weddings. She’s also a recent bride and says she made contacts with businesses at Hitched last year that she used for her wedding ceremony in August. It made extra sense because she was already at the event.

“I thought it was a good opportunity since I was here,” she says.

Coish says she had a relatively intimate wedding but used the contacts from Hitched for aspects of her wedding such as the flowers and reception. She says they had looked at other wedding events but liked the scale of Hitched. She also appreciated how well-run it was, not only as a bride-to-be but as a vendor, as she was able to get information such as the floor plan in advance.

“It’s very professional done,” she says.

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