BANGOR, Maine — Jacolby Leavitt followed close behind while his soon-to-be bride walked the floor of the Spectacular Event Center on Saturday evening for the annual Maine Wedding Association bridal show.
Sometimes the couple stopped at tables and spoke with photographers, caterers or dress shop owners. Other times they quietly gathered information that was on display and continued on to the next vendor. Mostly, they looked overwhelmed.
“It’s all pretty fancy,” said Leavitt, 21, of Washington, who proposed to his fiancee, Alison Abrahamson, 19, of Thorndike, about a month ago. They have a wedding scheduled for July but admitted they haven’t done much planning. “This is a good place to start,” he said.
Abrahamson said she and Leavitt agreed early on that they would do the planning together.
“I’m not going to leave him out of it,” she said.
On the other side of the Spectacular Event Center, Mike Jameson, 24, and Randy Bourgoin, 21, both of Millinocket, stood off to the side, tipping back bottles of Bud Light and making small talk. Their fiancees were somewhere else, out of sight.
“This is my level of involvement,” Jameson said, holding up the beer bottle. “And to periodically say, ‘Whatever you say, honey.’”
“I’m just here to find out how much overtime I need to work to pay for this,” added Bourgoin.
Brides-to-be are notoriously starry-eyed in their pursuit of the perfect wedding, said Joan Montgomery-Dunn, who owns the Maine Wedding Association with her husband, Jim Dunn.
But lately, more and more potential grooms are getting into the action as well.
“We started [the Maine Wedding Association] as a way to bring brides together with vendors,” said Montgomery-Dunn, who lives in Otis and plans four bridal shows every year throughout the state. “But many grooms are more involved now, and we want them to be involved. I don’t think they realize that they actually want a say in decisions until they get here.”
The Maine Wedding Association held its bridal show in Bangor on Saturday evening and Sunday into the afternoon. Montgomery-Dunn said nearly a year’s worth of planning goes into the event, which includes recruiting wedding vendors. Brides and grooms can walk from table to table and see dresses, cake designs, photography samples and much more.
“To be able to bring all these together in one place allows couples to see exactly what they are up against,” Montgomery-Dunn said. “But it also helps to create personal connections with potential vendors that they cannot get by phone or over the Internet.”
To make things easier on grooms, Montgomery-Dunn decided to offer them free admission Saturday. Their fiancees still had to pay $10.
“It’s just a way to entice [grooms] to come out,” she said.
Cheana Herbest, 22, and her fiance, Tony Bavelaar, 25, drove down from Milo to attend the show. They have been engaged for about 18 months and have quite of bit of planning done already.
“We’ve been kind of picking away at it,” Bavelaar said. “The thing you don’t realize fully is that everything costs money. I mean everything.”
Herbest said her groom-to-be has been a great help with the planning process.
“I’ve become a very good listener,” Bavelaar said with a grin.
Even Jameson and Bourgoin, who admittedly were not as involved as some, still showed up.
The interactions between brides and grooms as they plan their special day depend on a number of factors, said Deb Jordan, who coordinates functions at the Bar Harbor Club.
“It all depends on the person,” she said during a lull at Saturday’s bridal show. “I’ve had a groom who was literally doing all the planning, and I’ve had some who just show up. One of the more common things I’ve noticed, though, is that grooms seem to be interested in the budget.”
“I think grooms tend to be the voice of reason,” she said. “They are the ones that say, ‘OK, we can’t spend $40,000 on a wedding.’”
Janice Hobart and Paul Charette, a couple from Brewer, are each in their 40s and planning their second wedding.
“It’s definitely different this time around,” said Hobart, who was first married in 1981. “But that’s good. It’s less stressful. This time, I get to just have fun.”