PORTLAND, Maine — There are a bazillion wedding blogs out there to help brides-to-be get inspired and plan their big day. But what if you could could crash a wedding, or three, for ideas in real time?
As the season of “I do” comes into view, a Camden wedding planner has created a solution to the arduous process called Beswoon.
On March 8th at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, guests will encounter three nuptial motifs — rustic elegance, modern coastal romance and Gatsby glamour.
“This is something that has not been done in Maine,” said Adrienne Horty, who tasked 32 vendors to create popular wedding themes for the pending 2014 season in three rooms. “More than a trade show, we are going to make our visitors feel like guests.”
Her targeted audience is those who view Maine as a destination for their wedding. People from across New England are snapping up tickets.
Unlike generic sales-focused wedding expos, Beswoon lets guests taste, touch and experience an actual reception, nibbling bites from caterers, sniffing flowers and meeting those behind the scenes along the way.
In this age of mass customization, individuality rules. Few people just rent a hall, hire a band, tap a florist and call it a wedding. And with the average couple expected to spend $26,000 to tie the knot in Maine according to Horty, weddings are big business.
“Each couple is so unique. It’s supposed to be a reflection of their love, and location is very important,” said Horty, who runs an event planning company called The Refinery. “What people want is to create something that reflects them as individuals. They want a wedding that attaches to their personalities.”
To do that, Horty has tapped wedding locales like Hardy Farm in Fryeburg, dessert depot East End Cupcakes in Portland and wedding bands like Wavelength to recreate a total immersion for 325 people.
Like most great weddings, Beswoon starts with a cocktail hour that gives way to a fashion show. As festive beverages are consumed, the latest wedding looks are trotted out by Andrea’s Bridal and Joseph’s of Portland in the Westin Ballroom (available for your wedding). Next, guests filter into the balcony and other rooms to test drive a reception.
To track it all, attendees can upload a smartphone app, designed by Portland’s Tide Creative, that acts as a resource directory to keep track and favorite vendors.
“We are trying to merge the traditional show, which is more business-like, into something social,” said Horty, who is taking “the concept of experiential marketing and applying it to a wedding.”
For wedding planner Annie Watson of A. Watson Design in Whitefield, Beswoon is an opportunity to get her services out there and network in person. That’s important for those in the nuptial trade in Maine, who typically work from home and rely on referrals and the web.
“The collaboration is huge,” said Watson, who worked with Springer’s Jewelry and Minott’s Flowers, among others, to create a Gatsby Glam party complete with fascinators and layers of 20s elegance.
The rustic room will please veggie-loving-back-to-the-landers, or those who crave farmer chic.
The ambiance is “vintage botanical meets farmers market,” said Horty. “The food matches the local farmers market vibe. It’s a way to see in person what you can create.”
And you don’t need a barn to pull this off, as Beswoon will illustrate.
“I may be getting married in a the Westin, but how do I make the Westin look like a barn?”
Prices vary, and those attending Beswoon can order a la carte. All budgets are welcome.
“The aim is to inspire through the experience. It’s the perfect storm,” said Horty, who has long thought “if weddings are supposed to be special and fun, why are wedding shows not special and fun?”
Tickets are $30 and can be ordered at www.beswoon.com.